The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare and a seven-day car rental with unlimited mileage, from $629 per person—plus taxes and fuel surcharges of $289.
When: Depart by Mar. 24, 2008.
Gateways: New York City; add $50 for Boston; $130 for Atlanta; $200 for Philadelphia; $370 for San Francisco.
The fine print: Airport taxes and fuel surcharges are an additional $289 per person. Third-party insurance and value added taxes are included, as is a road map of Switzerland. A $35-$50 surcharge per person each way may apply for travel Thursday through Monday. Packages are nonrefundable and unchangeable. Packages must be purchased at least seven days prior to departure; purchases made within 21 days of departure will incur additional shipping and handling fees. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $140. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: Feb. 11, 2008.
Contact: EuropeASAP, 415/750-5449, europeasap.com.
Why it's a deal: The EuropeASAP package price is lower than that of comparable seven-day fly/drive packages from companies like Go Today (from $769) or Gate 1 Travel ($899). However, it may be worth doing some comparison pricing, as airfares to Europe in January and February can be a steal. For instance, a Kayak search yielded a round-trip fare between New York City and Zürich of $482 (American) in mid-February and an economy-class rental car starting at $37 per day, or $130 per person for seven days (Mini Europe). That DIY total comes to $619, or $10 less than the starting rate for this package, which also includes a road map.
Trip details: The Switzerland Fly & Drive package includes round-trip airfare to Zürich on a major airline and a seven-day economy-class car rental with unlimited mileage. Note that the car has a manual transmission, which remains more common in Europe than in the U.S. You can upgrade to an automatic transmission for an additional $70 per person.
This package gives you the flexibility to set out from Zürich—on the northern shore of Lake Zurich in central Switzerland—in whichever direction you choose. You could head west to explore Basel and Bern (each within a 90-minute drive), or head about two hours south to the Alpine villages of Gimmelwald, Mürren, and Wengen, or cross the border to Strasbourg, France (about two and a half hours).
Keep in mind that the weather will be chilly, with average temperatures in the low 30s Fahrenheit in Zürich. It's snowy, too, and there are plenty of places where you could spend a few days skiing (from Mürren to Zermatt to ritzier St.-Moritz).
For tips on how to plan your trip, check the official tourism Web site of Switzerland.