Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Traveling in Europe: Transportation

One of the questions I get asked about a lot is transportation around Europe. I know everyone has their preferred way to travel, but I wanted to give my opinion on the three major ways to travel around Europe.

1. Train- Before I moved to Europe I thought I'd be taking the train a lot. Not so. Train travel has it's advantages, you don't have to show up hours before in order to check in, you can take large bags on the train without having to worry about weight restrictions or liquids. However, I find train travel incredibly expensive, unless I'm going a short distance. I take the train to Venice a lot, because it's a mere 4.00 Euro from my nearest stop, but taking it to Rome or even Florence can be quite pricey. Not to mention if you're taking it country to country, I just couldn't justify the price of most train rides to make it my regular mode of travel.

In case you didn't know, use this website for train travel in Italy: www.trenitalia.com



2. Plane- Probably my favorite way to travel around Europe. For our upcoming trip we spend around $500 for a total of seven flights for 2 people. That's ridiculously cheap in my opinion. I normally use EasyJet or RyanAir to travel, but I will say that EasyJet is my favorite of the two. On our trip we are also going to be using Vueling, so I'll have to give my opinions on that airline after the trip. If you book far enough ahead of time for one of the cheaper airlines like EasyJet you can score some amazing deals. The longer you wait the more expensive it is and can also sell out. I'm not a fan of the restrictions on bags on the cheap airlines though. On EasyJet you are limited to one item only. That means no carry-on and a purse. It's strictly one item.

3. Car- I love exploring Europe by car. I recommend avoiding the large cities if you are driving by car though. It's way too crazy for this girl to drive in European large cities (minus Munich, I found it quite easy). For the countryside and smaller towns, driving is perfect. You get to see a bit of the land, haul as many bags as you want and in our case, take Boomer. Another plus is if you drive in Italy you have the delicious AutoGrills to stop at. Seriously, I wish AutoGrills existed in the States, they are soooo much better than truck stops. The downsides to driving are of course the ridiculous gas prices and the tolls. Italy has expensive tolls. Austria has the toll vignette you must buy, plus tolls. Slovenia has a vignette, but it's probably the best bargain of all. I've been told that some countries look for you to have an International Driver's license, but I've yet to see one required.

If you have any questions about anything I mentioned in this post, feel free to e-mail me!

9 comments:

Sara said...

Have you tried sleeper trains? When I was in Poland we took a sleeper to Hungary, mainly for the experience, but it was also much cheaper than the day fare.

I can imagine that in Western Europe things would be much more expensive though. Can't wait to hear how you feel about Vueling!

Uncork and Unwined said...

I agree about the trains here. They are way too expensive unless traveling somewhere close. We havent even taken one yet because we love the freedom and flexibility of driving.

The Rest is Still Unwritten said...

Great tips! We were thinking of taking the sleeper train from Paris to Venice. Should we do a plane? We are going in April and haven't booked anything but our flight to Paris and our flight home from Rome...

ALW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ALW said...

I also agree about the trains! We were looking at taking one to Rome, but it was a 1/4 of the price to fly there! RyanAir also only allows ONE carry on. I take my little wristlet purse, and they never say anything to me.

Mom in High Heels said...

I agree about the trains. They are crazy expensive. I love to ride the train and love the convenience, but the cost is ridiculous.

Hannah Noel said...

I agree with you about cars in big cities. Only taxis and buses are stupid enough (and skilled enough) to do that!

Paula said...

Your assessment is right on. I moved here thinking I'd take the train all the time, and it's just too expensive. Sometimes I take it to the airport in Frankfurt from our home b/c it's so incredibly convenient and easier than driving (and airport parking is expensive), but we don't take it as much as we thought we would. There is a good deal for groups in Bavaria called the Bavarian ticket that we sometimes take locally, but it only utilizes regional trains and isn't efficient for long trips.

We have driven all over Europe, and driving gives us more flexibility than we'd ever have with the car. When we go to a big city like Prague, we usually find a hotel on the outskirts with safe parking and take the tram to the inner city.

I do want to do a sleeper train for the experience though.

AngieDMac said...

When we visited early last Spring, having a car made a great difference. But traffic was nuts, especially in Paris! I would love to hop around via plane. Thanks for the awesome info!!