Airlines love to lure customers by offering cheap fares. 7 euros here, 20 euros there. I never fall for it. There are so many hidden costs with airlines that I almost always prefer to travel by train when I have the option! With a seemingly endless network of routes, Europe is a fantastic continent to experience via train. I’ve taken many a train ride before, and I hope this post will convince you to do the same! Here are the best advantages of train travel and eight reasons why I think train travel is the way to go.
1. Trains Arrive in the City Center
Getting to an airport from a city is rarely as simple as taking the metro. Most major airports have a separate public transportation line that you have to pay extra for ($7.50 for the AirTran between New York and JFK, $11 for the RER between Paris and CDG, $20 for the Flytoget between Oslo and the airport), and is generally pretty inconvenient. If you prefer to take a cab, you can easily double the price you paid for a “cheap” flight.
With trains, most of the time you are dropped in the center of the city or at least somewhere that you can easily access a metro line!
2. Stopovers are Easy
With train travel, you can stop over in a city and get a “preview” before booking a long-term stay there. This is exactly what I did on my way to Biarritz, with a stopover in Tours. I booked an apartment within 10 minutes of walking distance from the train, so I didn’t have to worry about taking a cab or metro.
3. No Need to Weigh or Measure Your Luggage
One of the best advantages of train travel is not needing to weigh your luggage! I absolutely hate having to rearrange my luggage at the airport to satisfy an airline’s weight requirements, or worse, pay an extra fee. In fact, American Airlines charges $25 for each check-in baggage, up to 50 pounds. No, thanks!
4. Seats are Comfortable
Seats on trains are generally way larger and more comfortable than they are in airplanes. You don’t need to wear a seatbelt, and you can get up and move around as you like.
5. You Get What You Pay For
There are so many service levels of airlines, that you have to research each airline to see exactly what is included in the price of your fare. Will you have a blanket? Should you buy water at the airport? Some flights have these extras and some don’t. Train lines aren’t out to get you the way airlines are, and service is pretty standard unless you book a luxury train ride.
6. Liquid, Food and Water Can Be Brought On Board
There is no need to worry about “security staff” taking your food or water, and then being forced to overpay for a bottle of water inside the airport. One of the advantages of train travel is that you can bring whatever liquids you like on board a train!
7. Departures are Prompt
We’ve all been on delayed flights. It’s a pain to get the refund you’re supposedly entitled to. The vast majority of trains I have taken have departed promptly and arrive within 5 minutes of the schedule. There will be exceptions of course (looking at you Italy!), but the timeliness is a huge advantage of trains over plane travel.
8. You can Show Up Last Minute
Another fantastic advantage of train travel is you can show up 10 minutes before the train departs, as long as the station isn’t too large and you’re not crossing the Schengen Zone border. Unless the train station is large, you can easily show up right before the train takes off! You find the platform and board the train directly. No check-in, no security, no baggage check, etc.
9. It really doesn’t take that much more time
Even if your flight is only an hour or so long, you have to show up two hours early. Chances are it will take you an hour to get to the airport itself. So that’s an extra three hours you’ve spent preparing to take the hour-long flight. Then add another hour at the end of the trip to arrive at your next destination. In total, around 4 additional hours are added. Depending on where you are going, it may make a lot more sense to take the train, which brings me to my next reason:
10. You can sit for the majority of your travel time
When you fly, you are only sitting for the duration of your flight. The rest of the time you are in transit between the airport, the check-in desk, the security line, border control, etc. There’s a lot of standing up, running, and walking involved in flight travel. If the total transit time is equal between a flight and a train, at least you can be comfortably sitting down when taking the train! This isn’t so much that I prefer to be lazy, but rather, maybe I want to read a book, or get some work done, etc. The time is mine to spend as I like.
11. It Feels Good
Literally. I love the feeling you get when you go through a tunnel, or really fast, and your ears start to pop. I know this feeling isn’t for everyone but I just find train travel so relaxing!
12. You Still Have Cellular Service
While most trains don’t have wifi, a lot of them are slowly starting to add the service to their routes. What’s better is they don’t charge $25 for 30 minutes of service! Even if your train doesn’t have wifi, as long as you have local service, your cell phone will work so you can stay connected while traveling. This is one of the big advantages of train travel when meeting up with someone elsewhere or coordinating with colleagues.
So what about you? Do you prefer trains over planes? Neither? What is your favorite mode of transportation and why?