Summer is rolling into action here in Europe, bringing with it the busiest months of travel. I’m already planning out my next excursions and while doing so I haven’t only been looking at my destinations, but also how exactly I’m going to get there.
Modes of transport haven’t always been at the forefront of my mind in travel planning. Normally I’m eager to enjoy my destination, so simply work on finding the quickest way to get there so minimise my transit time. Up until recently, flying has always come to mind first in terms of getting there the fastest (as I’m sure it has for you too!) However a recent study by the folks at GoEuro, a travel search engine that compares flight, train and bus travel, has proved me wrong. When assessing 14 major routes in Europe, they’ve found that catching the train tends to kick flying’s butt and is around 1 hour faster on most routes! But how can this be right, right?
As I’m sure you’re all well aware, the sad events of the recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, and further scares throughout Europe, has raised the level of security in airports significantly. Not only has this turned me off flying a little in terms of safety, it’s also increased the amount of time soaked up in check-ins, security checks, boarding, baggage claims and declaring goods when moving through airports. This is especially true when travelling through Brussels where they’ve now asked you to arrive at least three hours early for any departing flight to accommodate for the additional security checks. Evidence of this can be found in GoEuro’s study where all routes involving Brussels are between 2 – 4 hours faster by train!
To me this all of the heightened security and checks conjures feelings of stress and anxiety. A 2011 study in the UK even found that nearly 25% of Brits find navigating airports more stressful than moving house. This does not sound like a happy way to start a holiday or adventure.
But airport admin isn’t the only thing that makes travel by flying more stressful and take longer than travel by train. You must also take into account the transit time from the city to the airport upon departure and arrival. In some cities, especially the likes of London and Paris this can take between 1 – 2 hours, or longer if they’re experiencing a notoriously common public transport strike.
One of my favourite things about catching the train is the ease in which I can step off the central city streets and right into the main train station. Once seeking out my platform and train there are no security or baggage checks, I simply find my seat (which includes ample comfy leg room!), then I stow away my baggage, sit back and relax into my seat ready to be on the move. Upon arrival I can then step off the train and right back into the central city of my destination. Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin are a few of my favourite central stations for this.
There is one other little perk I must mention about train travel. The glorious vistas! Trains carve their way across the countryside, hug coastlines and move through small towns and cities, offering views and experiences you’ll never enjoy flying thousands of feet above the ground. So my parting tip is this, avoid the airport fuss and travel by the train this summer, but also make sure you nab a window seat and soak up the view on your way.