GPS navigation systems in European rental cars are fine but we think you should also carry good maps.

Don't harbor the notion that your European rental car's GPS will work in any country other than the one in which it was rented. And don't expect there to be an instruction book in English. A GPS does not replace, but supplements, good 1:200,000 or 1:150,000 scale maps. Even the best GPS devices sometimes create puzzling routes. So be sure that among the items you load into your European rental car are maps of the regions you plan to travel and you'll quickly know when the GPS is sending you the long way 'round. As old-fashioned as they may be, maps provide an overall perspective of the region and are useful in quickly locating interesting towns and sights. While the GPS is great in the countryside between towns and villages, it's positively indispensable in large cities. Without our portable Garmin Nuvi 660 I seriously question whether, in heavy rain and traffic, over poorly marked roads on a dark Sunday night, we'd have ever reached our hotel in Poznan, Poland, without it.

By the way, a New York Times article says good portable GPS devices are superior to any automobile factory-installed GPS. My own experience with the Nuvi bears that out...and, unlike a European rental car's GPS, it worked throughout Europe. The 660 not only directs you to your destination but provides other information and services. There are basic things such as the distance to your next turn, distance already covered, distance remaining, estimated time of arrival, and current speed. It also records the highest speed attained (our ICE train between Brussels and Frankfurt clocked out at 170mph). The user zooms in and out of the two-dimensional or three-dimensional maps by simply touching the screen. It also comes with a points-of-interest (POIs) database with hotels, restaurants, fuel, ATMs and more. Extra features include an MP3 player, Bluetooth hands-free technology and an integrated FM receiver that picks up TMC traffic reports. Small, light, and easy to deal with on the trip, it was almost flawless in Belgium, Germany and Poland. Of course you must purchase additional software to get Europe coverage. Extra software for European POIs is also sold. The 660 lists for $750 but you can buy it online, as I did, for about $200 less. It's a great device but most functional in a European rental car when supplemented with good maps.

Book your rental car in Europe with Gemütlichkeit's travel department and get the best rates, personalized, knowledgeable service and our unique at-the-rental-counter safety net that ensures our customers get what they are promised. We book with all the major companies in more than 35 countries. If you have questions about rentals in Europe, or simply prefer to deal in-person, phone us at 800-521-6722.