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How easy is it to travel through Europe? What's best for you? Car, train or hopping around cities by plane?
Did you know that Europe is about the same size as Australia? It is so easy to get from one country to another whether it’s by train, plane or car, you just have to decide what’s best for you depending on your circumstances. Are you traveling as a family with heavy luggage, as a couple or backpacking with college friends? How much time do you have, what’s your budget and what places are you visiting? Once you’ve figured out what’s best for your travel needs your European Vacation will be off to a great start.
Consider the pros and cons of the following situations:
-Packing light is essential
-If only two people, it’s probably cheaper than renting a car
-If three or four people, it’s probably more expensive than renting a car
-As a family with young children, it can be miserable
-Great for touring big cities
-Not so great if you want to get off the beaten path
-Great for going throughout Europe and visiting main hot spots like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, and Rome etc.
The train is a very popular way to travel in Europe by visitors and Europeans. The easy access of getting on and off trains from one city to another while enjoying the gorgeous scenic view is appealing to many. If you are taking a few weeks to travel throughout Europe then the train would be the best way to go, allowing you to visit many destinations at a reasonable price. Purchasing rail passes with Eurail can be tricky as there are different types, some offer travel only in certain countries, then there’s a multi-country pass, or you could opt for the point-to-point tickets if you are only traveling a few days.
In Britain, it is different to mainland Europe; you would use the Britrail pass allowing you to travel all around Britain. For trains between Paris, London and Brussels you would want the high-speed Eurostar, which takes you through the Channel Tunnel. London to Paris is only 2 hours and 15 minutes.
-Packing heavy is doable
-Cheaper for a family
-A lot of driving if you are covering a lot of ground
-Not so fun driving in the cities
-Getting off the beaten path is much easier and flexible
-Freedom to stop and go as you please
-Gas prices are roughly $7 a gallon
Renting a car can be costly when you add in the insurance and gas prices. However, it is perfect for people who want to get to places where the train does not. For example, Highclere Castle, also known as Downton Abbey, has a train station in a nearby village but a taxi would be required after that. The same goes for other stately homes, for instance, the Pride and Prejudice movies, known as Lyme Park and Chatsworth House; it would be easier to drive. The sleepy villages in the Cotswolds have buses that run through the towns but not very often and are unreliable at times. The only train station in the Cotswolds is Morton-in-the-Marsh. The same is for all over Europe, the train is wonderful until you want to see quieter, secluded places. Some travelers enjoy doing both train and renting a car which can be a great idea if you have planned out an itinerary to do so, you get the best of both worlds.
If you want to drive an automatic then make sure you plan ahead with the renting company and ask for an automatic. If you don’t they will assume you want to drive a stick shift like the majority of Europeans. It is also more expensive to rent an automatic. Be sure to read the rules and road signs of the country you are driving in.
How easy is it to hop around countries?
If you are planning on seeing just a couple of countries that are far apart, like Italy and England for example, then flying is the fastest and cheapest way to go. Europe has wonderful budget-friendly airlines making it possible to hop around countries with ease, just make sure you check their baggage allowance first. (This is where packing light comes in handy too). These airlines are small and will probably be non-refundable. You can also get great deals by booking way in advance, which will be helpful to you with planning and booking your whole trip, this way you can allow rail passes, city passes etc. to be mailed to your home.
Some small budget-friendly airlines:
Ryanair - (Home base London- Stansted) Flies to Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden
(We flew this airline all the time – some people don’t like it but we never had a problem, prices were great)
Jet2 – Flights from England and Scotland, plus many European countries (Great airline – speaking from experience)
German Wings – Flights within Germany and many European countries (Great airline – speaking from experience)
City Jet – (Home base London City) England, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Scotland
Easy Jet – (Home base London) flies to most European countries
Flybe – Flights from Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast, Devon and more. Offers flights to 65 European airports.
Air-Berlin – Flies to most European countries and throughout the world
Vueling Airlines – (home base Spain) flies to Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Gambia (Africa) Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, UK