Air-car vacation packages to Italy

Buying your airfare along with a rental car at the same time in the form of a fly-drive vacation package often saves you money over purchasing each separately

If you do plan to rent a car, it's usually far cheaper to buy one of these vacation packages than it would be to get plane tickets, then go about arranging a vehicle separately.

This is largely because the outfits that package these vacations are consolidators of at least the airfare portion (sometimes the cars as well), meaning they can sell the tickets at a discount because they buy them in bulk from the airlines way below market value.

The practical upshot is not only can you get to Italy pretty cheaply, but once you're there you have your own set of wheels so you can properly explore the continent's nooks and crannies.

The best places to get air-car packages

PartnerAuto Europe ( - Since they moved from doing just cars to covering cars and airfare (and more), AE has become one of the most consistent and reliable sources for both inexpensive airfares and barrel-bottom car rentals. It goes without saying that they can pair the two cheaply as well. Rates to Italy start as low as $679 in winter, $837 in spring, and $1,287 in summer. (That's per person for two traveling together and includes fuel surcharges; taxes, airport, and security fees can add up to $190.) ( - The price champ on air-hotel packages also offers cheap fly-drive deals in most countries of Western European. Rates to Italy start around $799 in winter, $999 in spring, $1,249 in summer, and $909 in fall.

Sceptre Tours ( Does an excellent air-car-B&B package to Italy (modeled on its successful version in Ireland, which I have done and is excellent).

PartnerThe Big Three (Orbitz.comPartner, Expedia.comPartner, Travelocity.comPartner) - Since the three major travel search engines all offer competitive prices on airfares, hotels, car rentals, and the rest, they can easily put together vacation spackages as well. OrbitzPartner, ExpediaPartner, and TravelocityPartner now all prominently offer "packages" or "vacations" as a main menu option at the top of the page. The prices can be phenomenal—and the offerings often a bit more flexible than at the competition (number of nights, multiple destinations, a freer mix of lodging, transportation, and sightseeing options)—so it's well worth looking into.

Untours ( - Sort of like the Platinum Edition of a vacation package, taking care of all the major costs, details, and logistics but leaving you to plan your daily sightseeing and travels. For one price, you get airfare over there, some form of transport (rental car or train or bus pass), lodgings (usually an apartment or rental villa), and a local contact who will help you get settled in, show you the ropes, then be on-call to help with questions. You also usually have one activity during the course of the week when all other "untour" participants in your area are invited to get together. While you can link together a few different week-long stays (say you do the Tuscany package, but also add a week in Rome), it is really designed for a home-base style of touring, not hotel-to-hotel trips that meander farther across the map. » more

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