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Eurail or Fly?

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AngieP

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Family group are travelling in Europe in July and August 2008. Group consists of two seniors, one adult, two students and 1 child. Travel will be something like this: fly Oz to London, fly London to Geneva then sorties from Geneva home base (6 weeks) to Paris, Venice, ending up in Rome for flight home to Oz. Question is would it be more economical to fly Geneva-Paris, and Geneva-Venice or would some type of Eurail suit better? All suggestions welcome !
 

Rae

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I'm not sure about the economic side of things, but considering that Western Europe is relatively small, train might be the better option. A lot of the cheaper airlines depart/arrive at airports miles from the city and and least with the train you have the option of looking at the scenery - and you get a fun experience.

All the cities you mention are quite major and you'll probably find there are direct routes between them.

FWIW on a trip I routed last year:
fly LHR-BER
train Berlin - Munich - Venice - Rome (all direct non-stop trains)
 

munitalP

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Use rail! If you are on holiday, rail is the best mind you, it's slower and if you are not careful, more expensive. Euro 5 country pass purchased in Europe on the internet (a European credit card is needed though) will cost between 150 and 300 Euro depending on when purchased - thats first class in the I.C.E - I don't know economy fares tho.
 

NM

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One major advantage of the train is that it gets you right into the centre of the cities you are visiting. So no transfer costs and time. And note that many of the European LCCs use regional airports that may be a LONG way from the advertised destination city.

For travel around continental Europe, the trains a great. And the Eurail passes are very economical. Remember that for slight more money you can reserve specific seats on the trains and not just take whatever is available. At peak times it can he hard to get seats if you just turn up and board the train, especially with a group travelling together.

Eurail passes get you unlimited first class train travel in the countries specified on the ticket (various options available) for the duration of the pass. It must be purchased by non-European residents (passport may be required as proof of non-European residency) and must be purchased prior to arriving in Europe.
 

clifford

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NM said:
One major advantage of the train is that it gets you right into the centre of the cities you are visiting. So no transfer costs and time. And note that many of the European LCCs use regional airports that may be a LONG way from the advertised destination city.

For travel around continental Europe, the trains a great. And the Eurail passes are very economical. Remember that for slight more money you can reserve specific seats on the trains and not just take whatever is available. At peak times it can he hard to get seats if you just turn up and board the train, especially with a group travelling together.

Eurail passes get you unlimited first class train travel in the countries specified on the ticket (various options available) for the duration of the pass. It must be purchased by non-European residents (passport may be required as proof of non-European residency) and must be purchased prior to arriving in Europe.
Must admit I personally wouldn't use the train (unless money was no object and I was a train afficionado).

If you're staying in Geneva, it might be worth noting that this is an easyJet hub, so good connections to lots of places at low cost. The other option (and the one I would choose if I had the travelling companions the OP mentions) is car rental. For less than $100 a day, you can hire a tarago-type vehicle which will happily transport you and your fellow travellers to all the places you want to go.

As a previous poster has said, Western Europe is a pretty small place (and the roads are very good).
 

NM

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clifford said:
The other option (and the one I would choose if I had the travelling companions the OP mentions) is car rental. For less than $100 a day, you can hire a tarago-type vehicle which will happily transport you and your fellow travellers to all the places you want to go.

As a previous poster has said, Western Europe is a pretty small place (and the roads are very good).
If taking this option, then a GPS navigation system will be very handy. If you can't get one with the rental car, then consider getting a portable unit or PocketPC with suitable software and GPS receiver. European maps are very common and all of Europe (where you are likely to drive) well mapped.

But make sure you also include the cost of tolls and parking in the cost comparison. These can be significant in some locations.
 

Keith009

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Rail might not be the easiest option if you have lots of luggage. Luggage cannot be checked in like flying. My family and I struggled with our luggage and shopping when we were in Europe, and we'd now rather be hit with exhorbitant air fares and excess baggage charges than dragging so many suitcases around railway stations and up and down trains. Finding space for them in the train is also a major pain in the behind.
 

NM

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QF009 said:
Rail might not be the easiest option if you have lots of luggage. Luggage cannot be checked in like flying. My family and I struggled with our luggage and shopping when we were in Europe, and we'd now rather be hit with exhorbitant air fares and excess baggage charges than dragging so many suitcases around railway stations and up and down trains. Finding space for them in the train is also a major pain in the behind.
We had no issued with luggage with 7 people travelling together and used trains for most of continental Europe, visiting Paris, Nice, Pisa, Rome, Venice, Luzern, Zurich, Saltzburg, Munich, and Berlin. Each person has one rolling suitcase and one backpack (including the kids). There are luggage storage racks near the train doors and we had a good system working where the adults passed the bags on/off the trains and then everyone claimed and looked after their own.

The only problem times were the steps over or under the train lines between platforms at some stations where the kids needed some assistance to get the cases up/down. So at a few places I made a few trips up and down the steps. But many stations in Europe are very well setup for access with no steps to be traverses. Stations such as Rome, Venice, Luzern, Zurich, and Munich are all designed in a manner that the trains enter and leave from one end and all the platforms are joined at the other end for easy access and transfer without needing to use any stairs.

I would use the trains again. We appreciated the variety of travel experience and the opportunity to meet some people along the way that just doesn't seem to happen with air travel. But I do accept that flying and driving are most certainly viable options and for some people will be preferred to trains.
 

Kiwi Flyer

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Quite a lot of stations in europe have special ramps built into the stairs for suitcases and prams.
 

NM

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Kiwi Flyer said:
Quite a lot of stations in europe have special ramps built into the stairs for suitcases and prams.
and skate boards :D :D :cool:
 

Keith009

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Umm - it was only mum, dad, grandma and myself. And uhh...multiply that by x number of suitcases (and huge boxes of wine from Nicolas in Paris :shock:) and divide by 2 (number of ppl moving the luggage - dad and moi). I nearly fell down a number of times from train doors and escalators. :oops:

Hmm if only I'd known about the ramps...
 

Tiki

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I agree with everyone who said trains-gets you right to the city centre, see the scenery, cheaper, more fun! Plus trains go EVERYWHERE, not just the major cities, you need to see the smaller European towns too!
 

BlacKnox

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AngieP said:
Group consists of two seniors, one adult, two students and 1 child.
I've travelled by air/ train/ car around Europe on various trips. Given your group, I'd agree with clifford that car could be the best option, considering possible mobility restrictions of the seniors/ child.

On one trip, some friends and I hired a brand new citroen from Paris at very economical rates. Although we got lost sometimes finding specific hotels, travelling by car allowed us to stop for picnics in the countryside etc, of course not possible with the train/ air options.
 

dajop

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I'm one for the trains as well, but always have been. No need to worry about getting to/from airports that are sometimes along way from town, and no need to worry about parking (if renting car)/getting lost etc, but car may also be worth considering for certain trips.

Look at Paris - Geneva, train is 3.5 hrs. Flying 1:05, much quicker? Add on the time to get to/from airport, luggage cutoff times, luggage collection, margins for error and end result? Marginal time difference, and air travel can also be much more stressful.
 

Tiki

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A friend of mine who was in Austria and Germany told me that petrol was over $5.50 USD a gallon and in the States it is currently ranging from $2.75-3.40 USD a gallon. So if you are thinking about a car, check the price of petrol too.
 

NM

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Tiki said:
A friend of mine who was in Austria and Germany told me that petrol was over $5.50 USD a gallon and in the States it is currently ranging from $2.75-3.40 USD a gallon. So if you are thinking about a car, check the price of petrol too.
Remember that US gallons are smaller than imperial gallons used in Europe (well as far as I know they use litres in Germany and Austria). So make sure they are comparing the same thing.
 

Tiki

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My friend is an Austrian citizen living in the USA so she had converted litres to US gallons for the benefit of Americans.
 

PaulL

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NM said:
If taking this option, then a GPS navigation system will be very handy. If you can't get one with the rental car, then consider getting a portable unit or PocketPC with suitable software and GPS receiver. European maps are very common and all of Europe (where you are likely to drive) well mapped.

During June/July we will be traveling around Europe for about 8 weeks in a leased Peugeot 307. I am currently shopping around for a GPS navigator and maps to take with us. In an earlier thread someone mentioned the TomTom GO 910. Since this is a rapidly changing technology I would be interested to hear from other FFs of their experiences and recommendations for a GPS.
I am looking for one with a vehicle mount but still light enough to carry when on foot.

Has anyone purchased European maps for a GPS via EBay?

I am not sure if this is the right thread for this topic but I noticed a reference to GPS in it.
 

NM

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PaulL said:
I would be interested to hear from other FFs of their experiences and recommendations for a GPS.
I have Destinator 6 for my Dell Axim Pocket PC and a Bluetooth GPS receiver. I have maps for Australia, Europe, USA and Canada. It works well, but needs a little more tender loving care than a dedicated GPS device (like any Windows Mobile device does).
PaulL said:
I am looking for one with a vehicle mount but still light enough to carry when on foot.
If you buy a bluetooth GPS and/or software from BuyGPSNow.com, they will usually include a free universal vent mount suitable for most PocketPC devices.
PaulL said:
Has anyone purchased European maps for a GPS via EBay?
I bought my Bluetoth GPS receiver from a company that also sells them on eBay, though I bought mine directly from their web site for the same price as they sell on eBay.
 
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