Europe: Train or Plane?

if you are visiting multiple countries in Europe, you have a few options as far as mode of travel is concerned, however we will focus on the 2 most common ways to travel; by train, or by airplane.

Let’s say you are visiting France, and Spain and you want to

Plane

You have the option of flying between the two countries.  Just like the USA, Europe has discount airliners that make short trips and offer little to no frills.  EasyJet and Vueling Airlines are a couple of choices from Paris to most cities in Spain.  The cost of flying these airlines is similar to what you would pay on Southwest Airlines here in the USA and the cost is slightly higher than taking the train to Spain and the flight is only a couple of hours.

Advantages:

  • shorter travel time
  • get to experience very good airline customer service (yes, like it used to be in the USA) from friendly stewards and stewardesses

Disadvantages:

  • costs more than taking the train
  • You will miss out seeing the French and Spanish countrysides, which is a huge missed opportunity
  • You have to show up at the airport 2 hours before your flight and go through TSA-like security before getting on the airplane
  • You have to pay to check your luggage on most discount airliners
  • You have to wait until the seatbelt sign is off before you get up from your seat

Train

You also have the option of taking the train between the two countries.  Most of the trains now are bullet trains that travel between 140 to 200 miles per hour.  Renfe-SNCF is a common train company that provides high-speed rail transportation in France and Spain.  The prices are slightly less than an airplane ticket on a discount airliner a the duration of the trainride is 5 to 8 hours depending on which cities you are traveling between.

Advantages:

  • Cheaper than flying
  • You get to see ride through multiple cities and the countryside of France and Spain, and believe me, it’s worth it
  • You only need to show up about 45 minutes before your trip, security is minimal (at least it is in France and Spain)
  • No need to check luggage, there’s a luggage storage section or two on each car of the train
  • You can get up from your seat at anytime

Disadvantages:

  • You will get tired of being on a train for multiple hours and may be sore
  • Train staff are not very friendly all the time

As you can see, the train is the more advantageous way to travel across Europe.  Really, it’s an experience you can’t beat.  Traveling through the countryside of each country and seeing their cities, towns, fields, hills, and coastline, is totally worth it!  But, if you don’t care about any of this and want to get to your destination as quickly as possible or if you just love airplanes, then you should fly.  I prefer taking the train, seeing sights out the window that I may never see again is something time or money cannot buy in my opinion.

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