The magic words are "buy-back lease"
So long as you’re at least 18, have a valid driver’s license, and live outside the European Union, you can pay for what’s called a buy-back lease through the Peugeot Open Europe program. This gets you a factory-fresh car to call your own and take anywhere within 42 countries, sans mileage restrictions, for up to 175 days -- equivalent to returning a January 1 rental on June 24.
You prepay in American dollars and choose your car, which will have left-side steering and come with GPS installed. An international driver’s license is handy for any encounters with law enforcement, but it’s not required. If your car develops any problems, you just take it to the nearest Peugeot dealership and they’ll arrange a replacement at no cost. There’s no deposit to freeze a chunk of your savings.
“If you’re young and you’re backpacking, maybe you didn’t plan on having $1,000 locked up on your card like that, even if you’re just leasing for 17 days, 21 days,” Walter Kubeck, an Auto Europe reservations manager, told Thrillist. “If you’re in that specific age demographic, that’s when a buy-back lease is the biggest steal.”
Your lease also includes 24-hour roadside assistance (which on standard rentals incurs an extra a daily charge). If you’re on the road for long enough, you’re bound to need it. In Spain, someone smashed our rear window and took our computer bags while we were out having a nice breakfast. This sucked, obviously, but it would have been worse had the car itself not come fully insured.
“It’s life. Sometimes, cars are going to have problems,” Kubeck said. “But take it to a certified Peugeot shop, and they’ll arrange a new one at no cost. And the roadside network is so good in terms of responsiveness compared to a typical rental that there’s a lot more peace of mind.”
The insurance will only cover you inside the 42 approved countries, but if you don’t mind going commando, there’s not much to stop you from going wherever the road leads.
The excitement of Europe, with a dash of teenage nostalgia
I know this sounds almost unbearably whimsical, but that’s very much the point. Short-term leasing opens you up to stuff you could never do on an itinerary dictated by train routes or at the mercy of hitchhiking. And it makes cars themselves feel almost new again, with that high school-esque mix of autonomy and possibility. You know how at hostels you’d fumble through pamphlets and bus schedules and notice another traveler who seemed somehow to be doing more things, more easily? That was me, futzing not with rail schedules, but twirling my keys on the way to my car.