We have many wonderful self-drive cooking vacations here at The International Kitchen. And although most of our clients prefer culinary vacations that include all transfers and transportation, a self-drive option is a great way to save money (as transportation costs are a major part of trip cost) and to immerse yourself in the culture of the destination.
In a word: no! We don’t offer many cooking vacations in major cities, and quite frankly would never think to do so. I’ve driven in Rome and Palermo, and it is awful! But driving in the countryside is an altogether different story. True, you might have to wait for a herd of sheep to cross the road, you might have to stop and backtrack if you miss a turn-off, you might even have trouble figuring out how to open the gas tank on the rental car. (Yes, all of these have happened to me!) But even these experiences become part of the adventure.
Most cities have rental car agencies out of the major traffic zones, such as at the airport or train station with clear indications of how to get out of the city. (Do note that sometimes it costs more to pick up a rental car at the airport, however.) The highway system for the most part is easy to use once you get used to it (the signs point always in the direction of the next town down the line, so it’s handy to have a map and someone to read it). And really, what better way to stop and smell the roses than to be able to stop at will to smell the roses!
Here are a few of our of our favorite self-drive itineraries!
Discover Normandy is a wonderful 4- or 6-night option for those wishing to explore this gorgeous part of France. And it is priced at a great price per person! It’s hard to beat that, especially when you add in the charming B&B accommodations and the great cooking lessons.
Or, why not try the Best of Bordeaux in the south of France? This itinerary can be escorted or self-driving, and it is one of the best wine-producing areas in southern France as well.
Finally, our wonderful 3-night Flavors of the Real Italian Countryside has both a version that includes transfers and a self-drive option! You not only get to explore the beauty of accommodations in a 700-year-old castle, you get to taste the amazing cured pork products with the King of Parma Hams himself.
Have you driven in Europe? Did you have any adventures, and would you do it again?
By Peg Kern
Read more about traveling on a budget.
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