Honeymoon Series: Europe Transportation Using Budget Airlines and Trains
Getting around Europe is extremely easy. Budget airlines and trains make traveling between countries not only cheap, but efficient. In our previous post, we discussed how we got to Europe. In part 3 of our Honeymoon Series, we explore how to get around once we arrived.
While trains are still one of the best methods to move around Europe, planes have usurped the crown of being both more cost-effective and quicker. Budget airlines have become more prominent and in our opinion, should be the first option to look at if you intend to travel intra-Europe.
During our 3 week honeymoon trip, we took four one-way trips using budget airlines: 2 Transavia flights, British Midland Regional, and EasyJet. Most of you probably have never heard of two of the three airlines but you should not shy away from these flight operators. All of the flights with the exception of one were less than $300 for two tickets. That is the price of a regular round-trip price for one person in the U.S.
How to Find Intra-Europe Flights
Although you can find some budget airline flights on Kayak and Google Flights, the better sites to use are Momondo and SkyScanner. Both of these sites have more comprehensive searches and will show you better prices.
I would recommend that you search on both Momondo and SkyScanner as sometimes the prices might vary. We booked all 4 of our intra-Europe flights through SkyScanner after comparing between the two search engines. In all cases, the prices were very close with a few dollars separating the two sites.
One thing to note about these budget airlines is that you may have to fly into smaller airports in the major cities. For example, in Paris most of the budget airlines fly out of Orly Airport rather than Charles de Gaulle. In most cities, the smaller airports are typically more out of the way and you must plan your transportation accordingly.
Although plane transportation can get you to the major cities, train transportation will be your best bet for getting to the smaller cities and towns. In Switzerland, most of the mountain towns are only accessible by train. We traveled on trains as much as we did on planes.
Purchasing tickets for trains is easy and simple. You can walk up to any train station and purchase tickets on the spot but we would recommend using the internet to book ahead. Some countries offer discounted fares or “Supersaver” fares for booking through their websites. We learned this the hard way in Switzerland when we bought our tickets from Zurich to Mürren and paid almost €100 more than if we purchased online.
Most countries have their own dedicated websites and it is best place to purchase tickets as well as find schedules. Here are the sites we used for Switzerland and Germany.
Pro tip: Download the train mobile apps
Most of the train companies in Europe offer a mobile app for your phone. We highly recommend downloading and using it if you plan using the trains a lot. The apps will allow you to look at schedules as well as purchase tickets. With a mobile app handy, you can easily buy discounted fares instead of paying much more at the train stations. The apps also have a mobile ticket similar to the plane tickets on your phone. Save yourself lots of time and download the apps!
Planes and trains (and automobiles) are the most useful ways to get around Europe. In order of preference, I would choose plane travel to the major cities and trains to the smaller towns. With plane travel, you’ll save the most time and money but miss out on some of the scenic European countryside. If your itinerary consists of mostly smaller towns, train travel may be the way to go.