I had the best radio interview experience ever today with Melissa Ross (NPR). Thanks for making me so comfortable. ( I had about a dozen in my former business as a matchmaker plus some TV appearances). Very well researched; she had even read the last few blogs.
I'd like to continue my evaluation with the swapping of a car. That's an option that saves you a big chunk from your pocket book. A rental car can cost up to $1000 a week. Both parties need car insurance but no special permission from the insurance companies, as far as I know. We simply left our insurance details in the glove compartment of our car and so did our exchange partners. In the agreement, the drivers that are allowed to drive the car are listed.
If you know anything about cars in Europe, particularly in cities, you know that Europeans tend to buy smaller cars. One reason is that they have to pay much more for gas than we here in the USA in spite of the recent spike here (1 liter equals about Eur 1,50.) The other is because parking space is very precious.Most people living in cities --like in NY-- use public transport for commuting to work or even for going on vacation. There is a very efficient network of fast trains in many European countries, particularly in Germany (Thalys) and also in France (TGV).
So the cars we had at our disposal were not SUVs but useful for what we needed them.A bit small for me as I'm tall. Funnily enough, in Germany we were given the wrong keys by mistake. So we had the pleasure of cruising in their bigger car until we found out.
Pity that the French car's AC was broken. During the first few minutes of my first ride, the red symbol Service light came up. Worried, I called the French owner. "Don't worry", his standard phrase btw, "it's been like that for some years." Now that's reassuring. Conscientious as I am, I had taken mine for a full service shortly before the exchange. In France, I caused a hub cap to fall off and couldn't put it back on. We left them a note admitting it and asked them to send us a bill.
As part of the exchange agreement, the car exchange agreement, indemnifies you against damage that is caused. In case of an accident, we would have had the relevant numbers and insurance details handy to alert whatever car insurance was involved.It is a risk, but one that we took willingly considering the immense expenses otherwise. Thank God, we only deplore the loss of a beach towel and a saucepan and gained lots of sand from the beaches in and around the car in the garage. (First thing my husband did coming home was actually sweep the garage, imagine!) Thrashing the car would have bee really bad.
Advice #4: Make sure about the car that you are getting, how old it is, whether it's working properly, what type of gas it takes and that proper insurance is provided.