One unique experience that I’ve found about traveling through Europe is how popular and easy it is to travel by train. Anytime I visit anywhere in the US, I’m driving or I’m flying. Although there are trains, they’re not nearly as efficient or popular as they are in Europe.
Although trains used to be the cheapest way to travel around Europe, in recent years there have been a lot more airlines that offer affordable flights. Airlines like RyanAir or Easyjet offer really cheap flights around the continent that have many people thinking traveling by train may not be worth it, since typically the journeys are longer.
But personally, I LOVE IT. It’s a unique part of the European travel experience to travel by train. Obviously planes are very efficient, but there’s just something about trains. Here are 5 reasons why I love train travel.
1. The boarding process is hassle-free.
No arriving 2 hours early, no going through security, no taking off shoes, and you can bring any liquids you want! No digging for passports, no intimidating TSA officers, no ridiculous layovers. Basically, there’s no need to get to the train station more than 30 minutes early and you can just walk straight to your platform! And, boarding takes only a few minutes!
2. You pass amazing scenery.
During a flight, all you see is the top of clouds basically the whole time. However, on a train, you pass some absolutely amazing views during the journey. I’ve passed tiny rural villages in Spain, abandoned castles in Italy, coastlines in Ireland, and fields of flowers in England. On a train, you have nothing but beautiful scenery for hours upon hours for your viewing pleasure. There’s a certain romanticism to it, watching the beautiful world fly by.
3. Train stations are more convenient.
When I flew out of London through Heathrow, I spent about £50 on transportation to the airport. And that was after splitting the fare. Obviously London is expensive so that’s an extreme circumstance, but generally, airports are veryyyy out of the way. They’re huge, so they have to be, but that means getting to and from the city to the airport can sometimes be expensive, and a hassle. Even though many airports offer shuttles and some even have underground lines running through them, train stations are still much easier to get to and from because they are much more centrally located. There’s something so special about rolling in hot to a city, grabbing your bags (or paying to store them at the station if you’re only passing through for a day), and walking straight to your hotel or where you need to go.
4. Trains are much more comfortable.
The amount of space you get on a train versus a plane is incomparable! I’ve had a normal train seat, a train seat with a table shared with 4 other seats, and even my own compartment on an empty train! Even if a train is packed and you have to stay in your assigned seat, it’s way more comfortable and roomy than a plane. You can get up and stretch your legs. Your bags are where you can see them. And speaking of bags…you aren’t limited by weight! And you can bring as many as you want! As long as there’s room and you can handle your bags, you don’t have to pay extra for bags.
5. Trains are more social.
From my experience, I’ve found that trains are much more social than planes. People aren’t afraid to talk on trains for some reason, whereas planes are a lot more hush-hush. On one train ride I took, I was fascinated listening to a family speaking Italian to each other. I seriously just stared at them in awe for like an hour because it sounded so beautiful. On another ride through Germany, we stopped at a small, rural train station where 2 farmers in traditional lederhosen with staffs got on the playing laughing loudly in German. And on another ride, I met some German teenagers who offered to share their blutwurst with me…(obviously German trains are super interesting). I’ve met and encountered some very interesting people on trains, which has contributed to some great travel memories!
I basically love everything about train travel! The freedom, the comfort, the views, and I try to utilize Europe’s great railway system every time I’m over there (when it’s practical, of course)!
And a little side not…
I just want to point out that I’ve changed my blog name (which I’m sure you’ve noticed). After much internal debate, I have changed my blog name from SARA SAYS to SARA SEES! Although it’s a subtle change, I feel like it slightly better reflects the travel aspect of my blog. Travel photography is one of my biggest passions, so I love to share what I see through the eye of my camera. I want to share photos of things I SEE, as well as tell stories of what I’ve SEEN and done, so I think that small change is perfect for what I love to share on this space. I hope ya’ll like it!
So, what do you prefer? Trains or planes?