Europe 2014 – Prepare for Liftoff, Part Two

The choice to buy the car was actually two decisions in one as it meant we’d be shipping it to Europe.  Thus began the search for a firm to use for that purpose.  Throughout the planning process I used a book titled Take Your RV To Europe: The Low-Cost Route To Long-Term Touring Paperback by Ron and Adelle Milavsky.  This husband and wife team shipped their Toyota Camper to Europe some years ago and the book, though a bit dated, was full of useful information.

The one great tip I pulled from it was the name of an insurance agency, Thum, in Minnesota that I would use to purchase coverage for the Highlander while we drove it in Europe.  An initial Internet search had turned up only one vendor, a German agent that quoted a price close to $5,000 for the trip, a backbreaking amount of money.  After the exchange of a few emails with Thum the cost came in at $2,449 for the six months of coverage we would need, roughly equivalent to what coverage on a Volvo would have been had we purchased one for European Delivery (Volvo provides 2-3 weeks of free coverage).

The book wasn’t very informative about shipping companies, so I turned to the Internet to search out our options.  There are many firms providing this service and the two I received quotes from were Ship Overseas and Schumacher Cargo Logistics.  I ended up booking with Schumacher as their phone representatives were more personable, and in the end I think the quoted rate was lower.

When shipping a vehicle overseas, you generally have three options:

  1. Roll on Roll Off – Your vehicle is driven onto the boat.  Nothing of value can be stored in the car
  2. Shared Container – You vehicle is loaded into a twenty-foot container along with 2-3 other cars.  You can store belongings with this option.  You have to wait for the container to fill up with other cars before it can ship.
  3. Dedicated Container – You rent out the entire container.  You can store belongings.  Once your car is loaded into the container it can be shipped.

Our choice for shipping would be one of the container options and after giving it some thought, and examining our calendar for the month or so prior to our departure, we concluded that the dedicated container would be best as it would offer greater control over when the car was actually shipped.  As it turned out, the price we secured was lower than I expected and breaks down like this:

Dedicated Container Cost $1,675
Marine Insurance (based on value of car)       615
Sub-Total $2,290
Handling Fees in Belgium (Customs, etc.) 400 Euro      600
Total $2,890


This is still a rough estimate as we don’t know for sure how much they will charge when we get to Antwerp, but the folks at Schumacher advised this is a typical amount.  The return rate should be a bit less as they don’t offer the dedicated container option out of Antwerp and I’m thinking the handling fees in the US will be less.

We loaded up the car for shipping the weekend of March 30th.  Having spent a considerable amount of time prior to this arranging our gear in suitable duffel bags, Rubbermaid 8-gallon Action Packers and other item specific stuff sacks, actually loading the car didn’t take too long as it became more like approaching a complex but fun jig saw puzzle.  The most challenging part was getting both bikes inside in a way that didn’t take up extraordinary amounts of room and cause damage to the bikes, the car, and the items that would be packed around them.  With the front wheel off, Joanna’s bike packs upright, the seat just clearing the roof of the interior.  Not so with mine; to accommodate it we removed the seat, positioned it next to Joanna’s bike, secured them with bungee cords and packed around them with some old towels.  Next in went the Action Packers and a large Specialized Bike Bag that contains all of our bike clothing, tools, and accessories.  Finally we layered the two duffel bags holding our tent and sleeping bags, the inflatable pads we’ll sleep on and spread a miscellaneous amount of chairs, tables and other gear wherever it would fit.


Inventory #1

On Thursday April 3rd, Jim Hoppa and I drove the Highlander and the BMW down to Savannah where we spent the night, dropping off the Highlander at Cargo Group, LLC on Highway 21 just north of town.  We then jumped in the BMW and drove down to Orlando to attend the annual ACUI Conference, where we celebrated the Association’s 100th anniversary and my last conference as a student union professional.


Inventory #2


Inventory #3

As of the day I write this, the car has arrived in Antwerp and we’ve been in contact with the Schumacher agent there.  He’s heading off on holiday this week and will turn over the duties to an associate; we’ll have to assume, much as most travelers do, that this will all work out.  And if it doesn’t always have a Plan B in place to execute should such a need arise.  The Plan B I’ve prepared will no doubt entail consuming and extraordinary about of Belgian beer while we await the arrival of the car.



Take Your RV To Europe:

Thum Insurance:

Ship Overseas:

Schumacher Cargo Logistics:

Rubbermaid Action Packers:



  1. I’m putting all of this wonderful information in my back pocket for that time in the future when I make a similar trip! It looks like everything is ready – all that Europe is missing is you.

  2. Don Rohel · · Reply

    You should do an magazine or newspaper account of your planning for and traveling in Europe. Very enjoyable and informative reading!!

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