Are Trains Better Than Planes?

Kingscross Station London Photo Credit to hjl | The Wandering Wanderluster

Are Trains Better Than Planes? Exploring the pros of rail travel in Europe over budget airlines.

There has been a lot of hype lately about train travel and I have seen a huge rise in backpackers and travellers opting to journey by train in Europe over flying despite seeing some recent drops in air fares. But why are people choosing to take a slower mode of travel over a fast and reliable (most of the time) mode of transport? I take a look at the top five reasons why people like myself are opting to travel in Europe by train than by aeroplane.

It is more convenient

While train travel can never compete with flying for international travel, travelling via train in Europe is becoming the most convenient mode of transport for leisure travellers and business travellers. Why? Because it often takes you directly from city center to city center without the fuss or hassle of travelling to the airport, passing through security and then often travelling further on the other side. Plus you can turn up just a few minutes before you depart so there is no hanging around at airports for two hours prior to your flight!

Also if you are like me, nothing gets you more stressed out before flying then making sure your suitcase is the correct weight, height and width for budget airlines regulations and ensuring your toiletries are all the correct measurements! The benefit of train travel is that most train providers do not carry a restricted luggage policy allowing you to take on any shape or size bag, as heavy as you want and with as many toiletries as you want!

It is comfier

Relaxing on the train from Rome to Venice | Are Trains Better Then Planes | The Wandering Wandelruster

This is me in my super comfortable seat traveling from Rome to Venice.

I have yet to take a train journey where I was as squashed or as uncomfortable as I have been when I fly. Every single train journey I have taken in Europe (and outside) have provided me with plenty of leg space and a wide enough chair that I am not squished next to my fellow passenger (with the exception of commuter trains in London! They suck!) You are also able to freely walk around, up and down the train as much as you please without disturbing anyone. Plus you’ll find less wait for the toilet!

It is cheaper

Czech Train Ticket from Prague to Dresden for the Christmas Markets | The Wandering Wanderluster

My train ticket from Prague to Dresden bought last minute was still only 24 Euros. Buy it weeks in advance and its even cheaper!

While you can still grab a bargain flight with a few budget airlines, most long term travellers find that purchasing a Eurail Card for example, is much cheaper than purchasing multiple flights around the continent. It certainly provides better value for money, although note that purchasing your rail pass months in advance may save you even more cash, since some train companies are now issuing last minute rail passes that are on par to flight prices. But once you add up the costs of luggage many still opt for the flexibility and ease of taking a train for the points above!

It is tons more flexible

There have been a number of occasions when I wished I had purchased a flexi fare on my flights. In almost all occasions, changing my flight date or route would cost almost if not more then the original ticket cost. Eurail passes or similar give you the flexibility that you can travel on any day you want. Decide to stay in a city for longer? Not a problem! As long as you are still travelling inside the validity of the pass you can choose what route you want, what day you travel and the time.

You can stay connected

This is a feature I love about travelling by train. Not only can I often find a seat with a spacious table, but more and more trains are providing power sockets, USB charging points and free wifi, which allows me to work on the go saving money and working hours lost when I fly. I have found airports to charge extortionate rates for wifi in the terminals and it is often very slow, unless of course you pay for lounge access when the wifi is not only better but you can enjoy a leisurely drink of champagne and far comfier seats! I

However I have noticed some airlines are adding on board wifi which is great, but I think the added comfort, space and charging points in the train still far out weighs taking the train over flying. Sorry easyjet!

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  • Reply
    May 21, 2015 at 7:39 PM

    Train travel in Europe when you have a little extra time is definitely the way to go. In a plane you never get to look that relaxed and comfortable as you do in your chair to Venice 🙂

  • Reply
    May 22, 2015 at 4:01 AM

    I totally agree with this. It’s the same here in China. Taking the train is just so much more convenient!

    • Reply
      Samantha Hussey
      May 25, 2015 at 4:34 PM

      How are the trains in China compared to European trains Sophie?

  • Reply
    May 22, 2015 at 2:09 PM

    When I am in central Europe, I always choose trains as a way of traveling. It is very convenient!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2015 at 4:41 PM

    I like taking trains. They are definitely cheaper and more scenic!

  • Reply
    melody pittman
    May 24, 2015 at 12:59 AM

    Awesome hints! I have been thinking about train travel for awhile now and seeing your suggestions and pictures are very helpful. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Revati Victor
    May 24, 2015 at 8:51 AM

    not sure if my previous comment went through! Was just saying how I realised this very thing on our recent spate of train journeys through Tuscany! Such a convenient way to see the country

    • Reply
      Samantha Hussey
      May 25, 2015 at 4:34 PM

      I bet Tuscany is an amazing train journey to take! I passed through it briefly by train once but I slept a lot! So I didn’t see much of the countryside!

  • Reply
    Milosz Zak
    May 24, 2015 at 11:28 PM

    In Europe, the train is a great alternative. In North America – train travel is expensive, and really poorly set up. I have to say this debate is greatly context-based.

    • Reply
      Samantha Hussey
      May 25, 2015 at 4:33 PM

      Yes lots of people have told me we are lucky in Europe to have such a cheap and reliable train service because its so expensive in North America 🙂 Have you taken advantage of the trains in Europe yet Milosz?

  • Reply
    May 26, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    I love travelling by trains – the window views are always so inspiring to me, and I always have this wonderful feeling of ‘getting somewhere’ whenever I’m on the train. But truth be told, trains are getting very expensive nowadays – more expensive than airplanes!
    I mean, Deutsche Bahn ( i live in Berlin now) is just so super overpriced – normal ticket from Berlin to Leipzig, for example, is 45 euros – and its just a one and a half our drive!

    Or, if I want to go by train (or even bus) from Berlin to Munchen, its almost as expensive as going on a plane. So obviously, however I like travelling by train, I’m gonna go for the option that is faster and costs the same.. It’s a pity though!

  • Reply
    Nic from Roaming Renegades
    May 26, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    I love trains and would travel on them much more than planes given the chance. They just feel so much more relaxed and you can also see amazing views from the window. The only problem I have is that they can often be more expensive than taking a flight especially coming from the UK. Once on the continent is it good value though!

    • Reply
      Samantha Hussey
      May 26, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      Anything to do with the UK is expensive! Hence why I moved out 🙂 No in all seriousness I know trains such as the Eurostar to France can be just as expensive as flying and as for the trains in the country…well I wouldn’t blame you flying. I once needed to get to Birmingham for a conference from London and my train ticket was almost £200! My annual travel card here in Prague doesn’t even amount to that 🙂

  • Reply
    May 26, 2015 at 3:57 PM

    I agree!! I love train travel. When you calculate the amount of time you have to get to the airport earlier before a flight, it just takes so much longer! Traveling with kids, we have found that train travel is amazing. Many of the trains in Europe have special family cars, some even with playgrounds for kids! This converted my son quickly!

    • Reply
      Samantha Hussey
      May 27, 2015 at 3:09 PM

      Ah I didn’t know that! Thats fantastic! I remember my first flying experience as a kid. I was 9 years old and I remember how even back then it was quite a frightening experience. The security checks, the hanging around, the taking off and the being stuck in one seat! So I guess trains are perfect for kids too! You can get up and walk around, they are more spacious…and if they have an on board playground then its win win! 🙂

  • Reply
    May 26, 2015 at 4:16 PM

    I love that trains are a more relaxing and scenic way of travel. In a region such as Europe, you really can’t go wrong opting for the train 🙂 🙂

    • Reply
      Samantha Hussey
      May 27, 2015 at 3:07 PM

      Honestly, I’ll take the train over a plane any day of the week!

  • Reply
    May 26, 2015 at 11:19 PM

    I’m such a big fan of overland travel. It does take slightly longer but its worth it. Views are fantastic, you can get Wifi a lot of the time and it is generally cheap. I’m totally with you on this one. Great post

    • Reply
      Samantha Hussey
      May 27, 2015 at 3:06 PM

      Thanks Kate! Yes I agree! Although I have sometimes found it to be quicker then flying if you take into account the time you have to be at the airport before your flight and the travel to the city once you land! But I guess it depends on the location 🙂

  • Reply
    June 1, 2015 at 12:48 PM

    I’ve always loved travelling by train! Unfortunately between Aalborg and Copenhagen in Denmark, the train is always vastly more expensive than planes 🙁 Will try and keep an eye out for sales though!

    • Reply
      Samantha Hussey
      June 1, 2015 at 5:57 PM

      Ah thats a shame! I guess it is mostly mainland Europe that benefits from cheap train fares…the UK is awfully expensive too! 🙁

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