A New Lease on Life

America is a land dominated by cars. Our cities are sprawling while our public transit lacks, at least in comparison to our European counterparts. The vast openness of our continent makes driving more of a necessity, than a luxury. Its no wonder then that the love for speed and horsepower runs thick in our blood. Earning a driver’s license is a right of passage and our teenage years are spent behind the wheel. Children eagerly await their sixteenth birthdays, while older generations tell fond memories of muscle cars and drive-in movies. It is out of this love for driving that the road trip was born. 

The great american road trip is idolized in our films, folklore, and fantasies. Always portrayed to be an epic adventure, road trips are a wonderful time spent with friends, exploring the country and living simple. If you haven’t taken an epic road trip yet, chances are it’s on your bucket list. So it makes sense then then that American travelers would look to take their love for the open road with them when they travel abroad. I’m talking about about a Great European Road Trip. Why? Because EuroRail passes are expensive, buses are uncomfortable and time-consuming, and neither offer much freedom from the beaten path. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to take a 6 month road trip through Ireland, the UK, and Europe.

While traveling by car allows us much greater comfort and freedom, rental car company reviews are a red flag. So what should we do? Buy a vehicle? Maybe, but there are problems with that idea as well. I’ve found nothing but bad news when it comes to registering and insuring the vehicle, with intentions to cross the continent. Even with that problem solved, what will we do with the car when we’re done, sell it? How long will that take? What if we break down? I know I worry too much, but there is a lot of risk involved in this type of travel.

The solution to all of these problems is obvious. We’ll buy a brand new car, use it for a bit, and sell it back to the person who sold it to us. It seems too good to be true, I know, but it’s exactly the idea behind the French Buy Back Lease Program. In the European Union, there is a Value Added Tax (VAT) charged on goods & services. Since France’s VAT on a new vehicle is an exorbitantly high 20%, car companies are better off to sell slightly used cars. What a better way to do this than to sell the car to foreign travelers on vacation, and buy it back when they’re done. The cost is based on the number of days the vehicle is rented, with an option to buy the vehicle outright when you’re done.

Is it legal? Believe it or not, it’s been authorized by the French govt. Since 1954. See, it’s a win-win. The govt. allows it because it stimulates the automobile and tourism industries. Car companies make more sales. French citizens can better afford barely used cars, due to less VAT. And we get an affordable, tax-free vehicle that’s right off the assembly line. Even better, the car is registered in our name, has fantastic insurance, and 24/7 roadside assistance in over 40 countries. The Buy Back program is the perfect solution to long term European travel.

Benefits of the Buy Back Program

  • Zero-deductible insurance valid in 40 countries
  • Brand new car of your choice
  • Unlimited miles, 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Breakdown cover and factory warranty
  • No extra charge for extra drivers
  • Pick up from multiple locations in Europe- no charge for France locations

So what’s the catch? It’s only an option for those who are looking to travel long term, as the minimum requirement is 21 days. If that’s your plan, then then leasing really is a fantastic option.  We chose a Citroen Berlingo. Since the maximum lease for standard tourists is 170 days, we’ve booked two vehicles. Our first lease runs from March thru May, which we’ll spend in Ireland and the UK. The second lease period ends in September. During this time we’ll drive thousands of miles as we circle around Europe. We booked with IdeaMerge, which has proven to be a delight so far.


Finding the option to lease a Berlingo solved more than just our transportation needs. We’re going to live in it! That’s right, our transportation and our home, all in one. Why travel like this? To take advantage of freedom, the financial savings, and an incredible adventure. We’re surely not the first to do it, but we’re the first to do it like this. I’m sure you’re wondering how we’ll ever pull off this crazy plan. Don’t worry, you’ll have a front row seat on the action. Then you can decide for yourself if you’re ready for a new lease on life.





4 thoughts on “A New Lease on Life

  1. fivethings Reply

    This is such a dream of mine! Looking forward to following your journey!

    1. DR Reply

      I hope you’ll one day get to live your dream too! Thank you for your interest.

  2. Cristian Reply

    Hello! Such a great adventure! I wanna do something similar, and getting a van for transportation and living sounds like the best idea for me. My question is how much does it cost on average. I don’t need exact numbers, just an estimation per day or week. Thanks and best of luck!

    1. Danica Reply

      Hello Cristian, thanks for your interest. Sorry for the delayed response…we’re still on the road and I’ve got some catching up to do! Van life is a great option for budget travel but much it costs will depend mostly on how cheap your willing to be, lol. I don’t have the best numbers yet, as I’ve just been saving receipts and haven’t compiled them…but I’ll give you some ideas. For food, we don’t eat out. Ever. Seriously, we’ve eaten at a restaurant less than 10 times the entire 7 months we’ve been traveling. Some may see that as missing out on some of the best parts of travel, but we’ve accepted that in order to travel longer. We grocery shop at discount stores, mostly Aldi or Lidl, and spend about $35-$40 per day total (that’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two people). We cook our meals or eat fresh prepared items. Cars in Europe generally run on diesel, and it is expensive. Average price is about $1.50 per litre (remember, there’s almost 4 per gallon), so consider that when deciding how many miles you’ll want to drive. Luckily, cars are more efficient! Our Citroen Berlingo gets almost 50mpg. We don’t stay in campgrounds, so we save money by parking in rest areas and side streets, but there is an element of danger with that. Although Europe is generally considered safe, things can happen. Your variable costs are attractions and sightseeing, parking, public transportation (I don’t recommend driving into big cities), tolls, car maintenance, and the dreaded traffic violations. While we’ve only ever had a parking ticket, so far, Europe is very authoritarian with their driving laws. You can be fined by camera and not know it until months later, when you receive a ticket in the mail. I’d say if you plan for $50 per person, per day, and are strict with your budget, you’ll be fine. I’m sorry for the long response, please feel free to ask more questions if you’ve got them. I’ll try to get a better idea of what we’ve spent as time allows-stay tuned. Thanks, and good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *