So what exactly does it take on the expense side to travel for nearly six months in Europe? A big chunk of the cost is getting there and back and providing for transportation, a bit of which I’ve examined an earlier post. What follows in the next two posts is the complete breakdown.
Fares to Europe are pretty consistent from carrier to carrier, most dependent upon time of year. As we were departing in May and returning in November, our fares weren’t the lowest but not the highest. We chose United to take advantage of our premier status that gave us free access to the Economy Plus section of the plane, with more legroom and a bit more comfort. We paid $1,161 per person for our round trip flights. Because she flew in July, Beverly paid around $1,700, a premium collected for going during the busy season.
We debated about the wisdom of purchasing third party medical coverage for our time in Europe. Our coverage here in the States was still in force, but not valid for use while there. That is, if we sought medical treatment we’d pay up front and then submit the bills for reimbursement consideration upon our return to the States. We’d pretty much talked ourselves into getting the coverage when two close friends had emergency brain surgery at the same time. This sealed the argument for us and having shopped around purchased a policy through our local AAA office.
Total cost of the policy was $1,561 and included Lost Baggage, Baggage Delay, Missed Connection, Emergency Medical Transportation, Emergency Medical and Dental Coverage, Trip Cancellation, Travel Delay and Trip Interruption coverage. We wanted to make sure that if something serious were to occur, we’d have the option of being flown back to the States for treatment here.
U.S. auto insurance is not valid in Europe; a separate policy must be purchased to coverage while driving there. After much research on the Internet (the type of policy we were looking for is not easy to find) I contacted Minnesota based Thum Insurance Agency, referenced in a book that I used to gather information “Take Your RV To Europe: The Low-Cost Route To Long-Term Touring” by Ron and Adelle Milavsky. This was fortunate as the only other quote I received from Hamburg based TourInsure was for double what I ended up paying, which was $2,286. This is roughly what I would have paid for similar coverage through Volvo if we’d purchased one there, also a bit more expensive given the value of the Highlander.
This is a murky area at best, one hard to find recommendations for and as we would subsequently find out, confusing and lacking in transparency. Apparently shipping automobiles is a specialty item and processes and rates are not standardized. Information I received did not match up with reality throughout the process, quotes were often off by not insignificant amounts but in the end, the car made if over and back safely pretty much on schedule and I eventually concluded that our experience is just the way it is.
Here is a quote from our shipping agent when I asked why it was so much more expensive to ship back to the States:
“All about supply and demand. Steamship lines set prices accordingly. Why is it only $350 (cost) for a 20′ to Hong Kong? Simple, cream on top of the pie for carriers as these same containers fill up so quick with freight on the return. Everything is made in China so very high demand. Prices from Hong Kong back to LA are about 5 x more expensive than from LA to HK. Why does it cost $750 to fly from LA to NY while I can fly round trip to Europe and back for $950? It’s hard and confusing to understand all the inner workings of price setting by ocean carriers and airlines”
There are three options for shipping a car: 1) Roll on Roll Off – exactly has it sounds. The car is driven onto the boat. It is the least expensive but nothing can be stored in the car. 2) Shared Container – You share a container with up to three other vehicles. A bit more expensive but you get to ship belongings in the car. This is the slowest way to ship, as you have to wait for the container to become full. 3) Individual Container – Your car is the only one in the container and thus it is a faster way to ship.
We had thought the trip over would be in an Individual Container; it turns out it was in a Shared Container so less expensive than my original expectations. For the return trip, our only option was an Individual Container as far fewer cars are shipped to the U.S. than from.
The sum total of our Pre-Trip Expenses, including the return trip for the car, was $14,958 as follows:
|Customs Handling There (825e)||1,130|
|Customs Handling Here||900|
The next post will examine our day-to-day expenses while traveling. Stay tuned for that one!
Schumacher Cargo Logistics: http://www.schumachercargo.com/