With most of its destinations conveniently located on the same piece of land, Europe is great to travel by train. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should. At least, not without weighing up the pros and cons of train vs. air travel.
Ultimately, one isn’t superior to the other. They are very different means of travel and the right decision for you will come down to a range of factors that matter to you. Work out what priorities you have - whether time, money, or other elements are the most important to you - and then you’ll be able to decide what you should choose to travel around Europe.
10 Airplane: Often Faster Than Trains
It depends on where you’re traveling exactly, but often, traveling by plane is faster than traveling by train. If you are short on time, it’s a good idea to minimize travel time as much as possible. Even if traveling by train is superior to taking the plane in many ways, the shorter trip often makes air travel worth it.
Of course, sometimes the train can be a faster way to travel. If you’re only going a short distance, it’s quicker to take the long train journey and avoid all the time it takes to actually get on the flight at the airport.
9 Train: You Get All The Pretty Sights
Sure, getting the view of the city through the clouds as you take off and land during flying is an amazing experience. But other than that, there’s not much to see when you travel by plane. For the majority of the flight, there’s nothing outside your window but sky.
On a train, on the other hand, you often get some extremely pretty views of the surrounding landscape, be it green countryside or snow-topped mountains. In fact, some travelers purposely travel by train solely to enjoy the views through the window.
8 Airplane: Airports Usually Have More Amenities Than Train Stations
Although it doesn’t typically take as long to board a train as it does a plane, you have to at least spend a little time in the train station. Usually, airports have much more than train stations in the way of amenities. If you have to spend a long time at a train station for whatever reason, there’s typically not as much to see, do, and eat.
Not all airports were created equal and it’s true that sometimes you might get stuck at an airport that doesn’t offer many amenities. In general, though, there are more ways to pass the time at an airport than at a train station.
7 Train: Less Hassle Prior To Boarding
One of the best parts about train travel is that you get to avoid the intense and length security measures that you’ll have to go through when flying. While there still may be some security screening to go through before you board the train, this hardly ever takes as long as it does at an airport.
There are also fewer restrictions regarding what you can and can’t bring onto the train. You won’t have to take all your liquids out and put them in a separate transparent package, for example.
6 Airplane: Cheaper For Long-Distance Travel
When it comes to deciding what’s cheaper between air and train travel, it comes down to the specific journey as well as a list of other factors. In general, though, it is cheaper to fly if you’re traveling a long distance. While short train trips might be cheaper, it will typically cost you more to travel by train if you’re traveling from one side of Europe to the other.
If money is a major deciding factor, it’s a good idea to research both options. Often, a plane will be cheaper for long-distance travel, but it never hurts to weigh up your choices!
5 Train: You Might Not Be Charged For Overweight Luggage
The rules and restrictions when it comes to luggage tend to be much more relaxed on trains than they are on planes. This is especially true of trains in Europe. Although there might be weight restrictions on your luggage, this isn’t always checked rigorously at the train station the way it tends to be at the airport.
A word of warning, though. While you might not get fined for having overweight luggage, it is much harder to lift a heavy suitcase onto a train than it is to roll it onto a plane. Plus, on a train, you have the added pressure of knowing that the doors could close at any time, with or without you and your bags.
4 Airplane: More Designated Space To Leave Your Bags
Although cabin space can be tight on a plane, there is typically more designated space to leave your bags than there would be on a train. It’s generally accepted that you’ve got the space under the seat in front of you as well as the overhead compartment above your seat for your carry-on luggage.
On a train, though, you’ll often have to find storage space for your suitcases as well as your carry-on luggage. Sometimes, you’ll have to leave your suitcase in a totally separate cabin. When traveling with a sea of other people who all have the same black suitcases as you, that can be a little stressful.
3 Train: More Comfortable Than A Plane
Trains have different class cabins, just like planes do. First-class will always be more comfortable than coach, no matter what method of travel you’re taking. Overall, though, train travel is more comfortable than plane travel. The seats tend to be wider and there is more space to move around.
Even in first class on a plane, you might be stuck with some particularly bad turbulence or you might suffer from pain in your ears due to the pressure. Those things won’t happen on a train (although train rides can sometimes be bumpy).
2 Airplane: Flying Is Statistically Safer
Those who have a fear of flying might not believe this, but the experts have spoken and the results are in: Flying is officially safer than any other means of transport. You’re more likely to get into an accident traveling by car, boat, or train than to be involved in a plane crash.
Also, although the security measures at airports are annoying, they ultimately help to make air travel safer. Train travel doesn’t have the same intense screening procedures, so you have to wonder whether, from a security perspective, it’s as safe as flying.
1 Train: No Delays Due To Weather
Anyone who’s familiar with flying knows how annoying delays can be. Planes tend to have more delays than any other mode of transport because of external factors, including weather. If there’s a storm, for example, your flight could be delayed for hours or canceled altogether.
When traveling by train, this is less likely to happen because the conditions of train travel aren’t so temperamental. Trains can definitely still be delayed or canceled due to extreme weather, but you’re more likely to be held up when traveling by plane.