Travel SOS: Eurail or flights?

Syd is travelling around Europe and wants to know whether to fly between countries or take the train.


Q. Syd
My partner and I are travelling to Rome in September and hope to visit as many countries in Europe as we can in the two months before we have to return home. We figure two months should give us ample time to take in the sights with no real rush between destinations. We are undecided as to whether we should buy a Eurail pass for our European travel or try our luck on the budget airlines to get around. What do you think?

A. Travelling around Europe used to be an expensive exercise, but the rise of budget airlines has certainly made it a lot cheaper in recent times. While you can get fares from as low as one euro if you keep your eyes peeled, it pays to remember that these companies are not making money off the airfare, but they are making it back in other ways. The main way they make the money back is through fees, and if you happen to make a mistake, expect to cop your right whack. They are very strict about baggage limits or forgetting to print out your boarding pass, so you have to make sure you follow their rules to the letter. If you are travelling with a lot of bags it can often be cheaper to fly with one of the larger airlines.

The European rail system is one of the best and most extensive in the world and catching the train is a lot less stressful than getting in and out of airports. It is also important to remember that a lot of budget airlines don’t fly direct to a city’s major airport, which can often mean you are an hour away from the action. Train stations, on the other hand, usually deliver you directly to the city centre.

Getting a Eurail pass is definitely the way to go if you are planning on visiting multiple countries, as you will save enormous amounts on booking the tickets separately between countries.

However, when you are making the decision between flying or taking the train, it is going to come down to personal preference. As it doesn’t sound like you are in a rush, I would lean towards a rail pass.

Have you travelled to Europe recently? What did you find best for travelling between countries?

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