Planning a trip to Europe? You’ve got options beyond the traditional rail-pass.
Here are some practical, budget-minded tips about where to book planes, trains, boats, buses and automobiles when visiting the Old Continent.
Take to the Skies
You’ve probably heard of them by now; budget friendly flights are all the rage in Europe and offer some of the best deals when it comes to country-hopping.
If you book ahead or hit a sale, some flights can be down-right cheap. Even when paying full-price, most tickets on budget airlines are comparable to a slower seat on a long-distance train.
Taking a plane saves time, as Easyjet will get you from London to Lisbon in two and a half hours for about Ã¢â€šÂ¬100.00.
Vueling Airlines is a hip and innovative newcomer that flies mostly to Mediterranean destinations and to Paris. There are no boring in-flight magazines on Vueling – all passengers get a copy of Rolling Stone.
Ryan Air takes the cake for rock-bottom ticket prices, but their out-of-the-way terminals make flying with them a bit of a hassle.
Got Time? Take A Bus!
While seen as somewhat less prestigious than air or train travel, there are buses motoring to and from all European points of interest.
Slow? Yep. Budget friendly? Very. Comfortable? Well, more or less.
Most buses, like industry leader Eurolines, have large cushy seats and make frequent pit-stops. If it’s a long trip the bus will pull over for lunch and dinner.
One drawback to bus travel is that it’s a very slow ride. At one point on a bus trip I took to Toulouse, I recall looking out the window and watching a bicyclist pass us and ride off, disappearing over the horizon.
When on the bus, take it easy and make sure to pack a couple good books.
Rent Your Own Set of Wheels
In some cases it’s necessary to have an International Driver’s License to rent a car in Europe. You can get an IDL easily enough in your home country before departing.
To rent a car, you must be at least 25 years old and have a credit card. If you can tick all the boxes, then you’re ready to explore the back roads of the European countryside.
For the confident traveler, renting a car can be one of the best ways to see parts of Europe that you’d never get a chance to experience otherwise. Some regional companies such as Pepe Cars (Spain and Italy) only allow travel within the pick-up country, but in turn offer great deals.
Other larger international names such as Avis or Europcar, give you the freedom to pick up in one country and drop off in another for a slightly higher price.
Take To The Sea
If traveling around the Mediterranean is in your travel itinerary, going by boat is an option.
From Barcelona to the infamous islands of Ibiza and Mallorca, board Barcos Balearia for a nine and a half hour boat ride to the Spanish Islands. It’s not quick, but it offers a different sort if scenery and is fairly inexpensive. For jumping the Med. from Spain to Italy, try Girmaldi Ferries .
From Italy to Greece and around, try Minoan Lines.
EuroRail: The Old Standby
Of course, there’s always the train. While there are many options for travel around Europe these days, the train remains a favorite among many travelers and locals.
There’s something luxurious about having a glass of red in the dinner car and watching the world go by at 120 miles per hour. Plus, many parts of Europe have a fast train service that makes any trip quick and easy.
In the end, why not try a bit of everything if your schedule and wallet allow?
Start in London and grab the Eurostar to Paris, then hop on a Vueling flight from Paris to Barcelona. Board a Minoan Line vessel and set sail to Greece and Italy. All this can be done with a bit of planning and a sense of adventure.
With so many options, travel in Europe is easier than ever before.
Regina WB was born with a severe case of wanderlust. She studied English and photography in her native Portland, Oregon and later began her career in Guatemala; which she continues today in Barcelona, Spain as a freelancer for several publications. Visit her website Regwb.com
Do you have any of your own transportation tips? Share in the comments!