You likely have an idealized version of Europe in your head of riding the rails across the continent, backpack slung across your shoulder, meeting other travellers and mingling with locals. However, travelling across the continent by car also has its own advantages and idealized images for many. These images usually include driving to beautiful vineyards and visiting small towns far away from the hectic, tourist-heavy cities.
The best mode of transit for you depends on several factors. The most important one will most likely be how many people will be travelling. Those travelling alone and basing the decision primarily on economic factors will most likely select train travel. However, a large group of people making an economic decision will probably decide to rent a car.
Train travellers do not have to pay rental car fees, tolls and gasoline, and these costs can quickly add up. Also, car rentals can have significant hidden charges in the fine print. The costs of travelling by train are usually pretty straightforward. Those who desire a car with automatic transmission will normally have to pay about 33 percent more. Travellers who want to drop off a car in a different city than where they pick it up will also need to pay a premium.
Train travelling is also preferred if you are focusing your travel on large cities or smaller towns that are served by trains. Another plus is that train stations are usually located in city centres. Being able to simply relax and watch the countries pass by your window is a significant benefit of train travel. Also, driving in large cities should be avoided for most as it can be a very trying experience due to narrow streets and aggressive drivers. Parking can also be near impossible to find and is usually expensive when it is located.
Young people may receive added charges when renting a car or not even be allowed to rent. This tends to be the case for those under 25 years old and especially so for those under 21. However, those under 25 travelling by train in Europe often receive cheaper youth tickets. Travellers above a certain age may also have difficulty renting a car but be able to purchase cheaper train tickets.
However, there are also many significant benefits of renting a car.
A benefit of car travel is simply being able to dramatically increase the number of places you are able to visit as trains can access only a finite number of places. Having a rental car is essential if you are looking to enjoy the countryside or many of the smaller towns or if you simply want to avoid tourist-heavy locations. Also, the less time there is between now and your European holiday, the more expensive train tickets will become. However, this is highly dependent on the time of year your trip will be.
Simply being able to change your travel itinerary at a moment’s notice is something that is also very important to many and which can only be done easily with a rental car. You can also wait until the last minute to get accommodations if you have a car. If the town you drive into has no availability, you can simply drive to the next town and see if it has any openings. Accommodations also tend to be cheaper in “hard-to-reach” locations.
This is a guest post from Matt who writes about travel on behalf of Australia Post. He recommends getting protected with suitable travel insurance cover before you embark on your European holiday.
Like to know more about driving in Europe? Grab a copy of my eBook "The Stress-Free Guide to Driving in Europe". Find out all the details here.
Rail images courtesy www.swiss-image.ch