TRAVEL Q&A

Camping Made Easier

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By Elissa Leibowitz Poma
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, January 1, 2006

Q. Do any car rental agencies or trailer companies rent pop-up campers and a car? I would like to travel out West and be able to leave the camper at the campsite.

Michael Hoelscher, Warrenton

A. One of the drawbacks of renting an RV as your getaway car is that you have to take it everywhere you go, even if it's just to a restaurant or on a day trip. The idea of renting a car and a detachable camper or travel trailer could be more appealing.

However, rental car agencies generally do not allow you to hitch and haul, and we were unable to find any outlets that rent both the vehicle and the camper.

The best alternative to a full-size RV is a small, maneuverable camper van or compact RV. Some have the same fuel efficiency as a sport-utility vehicle and many can be parked in normal parking spots, according to the camper van company Roadtrek (888-762-3873, http://www.roadtrek.com/ ). They're touted for their good road stability and four-wheel drive.

In Arizona, Owner's RV Rental (800-793-7460, http://www.ownersrental.com/ ) has vans as short as 20 feet. The company arranges rentals from private owners, who often pick up and drop off travelers at the airport. Prices start at $99 daily and $599 weekly. Another outlet is California Campers (650-216-0000, http://www.californiacampers.com/ ), with a pair of locations outside San Francisco and Los Angeles. Its Volkswagen Westfalia camper vans get 18 to 21 miles to the gallon. Prices start at $75 daily and $500 weekly.

Cruise America (800-327-7799, http://www.cruiseamerica.com/ ) rents compact RVs as short as 22 feet. Prices vary according to locale.

For additional listings, check out RvNetLinx on the Web ( http://www.rvnetlinx.com/ ) and click on "Rentals."

Naples, Italy, seems notorious for crime. Is it safe?

John Cece, Lanham

While Naples -- the capital of Campania, a region in southern Italy -- is often described as a coarse and frenzied city, it's situated along one of the most stunning coastlines in all of Europe and does have its charm. It has its share of petty crimes, too, including pocket-picking and purse-snatching. But "there is little difference to the criminal element found in Naples versus what one would find in any busy city," says Douglas Feinstein, president of Bravo Italian Tours of Chicago.

The U.S. State Department ( http://travel.state.gov/ ) advises travelers to be cautious in the train and bus stations and on the streets, especially at night -- practical counsel when traveling anywhere. The State Department also reports that tourists in Naples, Rome and Florence have been robbed after assailants laced their beverages with drugs. Be cautious, therefore, when a handsome stranger offers to buy you a cappuccino or glass of wine. Jim Zurer, owner of Zurer Travel -- a Washington agency specializing in trips to Italy -- says the popular Piazza Garibaldi is also a spot in which to stay alert.


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