Whether you are an experienced traveller or a first-timer, one thing that can cause anxiety is getting from the airport (or cruise/ferry port) to your accommodation upon your arrival in a foreign country. Jetlag and language barriers can quickly add to the stress levels, and trying to negotiate the metro system and find the correct train line can cause even the most confident traveller to go into meltdown! Arriving after nightfall adds another element of difficulty to the mix.
On a visit to Paris a number of years ago, we decided to 'wing it' and make our way to our apartment using the metro. The Australian apartment owner had given us detailed instructions on which trains to catch and we were confident of finding our way without too much difficulty.
With a metro line connecting Charles de Gaulle airport with Gare du Nord station, we thought it would be just a matter of jumping on the first train that came along (after buying our tickets, of course!!). What we didn't anticipate was the size of Gare du Nord, one of Paris' major metro stations. Luckily, a very friendly Parisian businessman who spoke reasonable English picked us as tourists immediately (could it have been the map we were poring over that gave us away?) and kindly offered to point out which train we should catch from Gare du Nord to the metro station nearest to our apartment.
We soon realised that with two kids and four wheelie suitcases in tow, cramming onto a packed train (of course it would be peak hour that we arrived!) and then negotiating numerous flights of stairs as we crossed from one platform to another, wasn't that easy when we'd been travelling for over 24 hours.
Finally arriving at our apartment about three hours after landing in Paris, we were totally exhausted.
On our travels since, we have always pre-booked a transfer from the airport or railway station to our accommodation. When we arrive, it's simply a matter of phoning the shuttle company (usually on a free-call number) or meeting at a designated area at the airport or station and hopping aboard the bus or mini-van to our accommodation. We're delivered right to the door of our hotel or apartment building without the stress and usually in under an hour. In fact, on a recent visit to Paris, we arrived at Gare du Lyon station and were met on the platform by our chauffeur holding a sign with our name on it. When I mentioned I should phone our apartment manager to let them know we were on our way, he pulled out his phone and offered to phone her on our behalf. Now that's service!
These days, I always recommend to friends that they pre-purchase at least their arrival transfer, no matter which city they are flying (or sailing) into. Transfers from many of Europe's major railway stations are also able to be pre-purchased. For the sake of $40 or so per person (often cheaper for families or larger groups), it is definitely money well spent.
Disclosure: The above link is an affiliate link. Should you decide to purchase a transfer via the affiliate website, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.