12 Reasons Why I Always Prefer to Travel By Train

Airlines love to lure customers by offering cheap fares. 7 euros here, 20 euros there. I never fall for it. There are so many hidden costs with airlines that I almost always prefer to travel by train when I have the option! With a seemingly endless network of routes, Europe is a fantastic continent to experience via train. I’ve taken many a train ride before, and I hope this post will convince you to do the same!

Traveling by train in Europe

1. You are Dropped in the City Center

Getting to an airport from a city is rarely as simple as taking the metro. Most major airports have a separate public transportation line that you have to pay extra for ($7.50 for the AirTran between New York and JFK, $11 for the RER between Paris and CDG, $20 for the Flytoget between Oslo and the airport), and is generally pretty inconvenient. If you prefer to take a cab, you can easily double the price you paid for a “cheap” flight.

With trains, most of the time you are dropped in the center of the city or at least somewhere that you can easily access a metro line!

2. Stopovers are Easy

With train travel, you can stop over in a city and get a “preview” before booking a long term stay there. This is exactly what I did on my way to Biarritz, with a stopover in Tours. I booked an apartment within 10 minutes walking distance from the train, so I didn’t have to worry about taking a cab or metro.

3. No Need to Weigh or Measure Your Luggage

I absolutely hate having to rearrange my luggage at the airport to satisfy an airline’s weight requirements, or worse, pay an extra fee. In fact, American Airlines charges $25 for each check-in baggage, up to 50 pounds. No, thanks!

4. Seats are Comfortable

Seats on trains are generally way larger and more comfortable than they are in airplanes. You don’t need to wear a seatbelt, and you can get up and move around as you like.

5. You Get What You Pay For

There are so many service levels of airlines, that you have to research each airline to see exactly what is included in the price of your fare. Will you have a blanket? Should you buy water at the airport? Some flights have these extras and some don’t. Train lines aren’t out to get you the way airlines are, and service is pretty standard unless you book a luxury train ride.

6. Liquid, Food and Water Can Be Brought On Board

There is no need to worry about “security” taking your food or water, and then being forced to overpay for a bottle of water inside the airport. You can bring whatever you like on board a train!

7. Departures are Prompt

We’ve all been on delayed flights. Yet the vast majority of trains I have taken have departed promptly and arrive within 5 minutes of the schedule. There will be exceptions of course (looking at you Italy!), but the timeliness is a huge advantage over plane travel.

8. You can Show up 10 minutes Before Departure

Unless the train station is large, you can easily show up right before the train takes off! You find the platform and board the train directly. No check-in, no security, no baggage check, etc.

9. It really doesn’t take that much more time

Even if your flight is only an hour or so long, you have to show up two hours early. Chances are it will take you an hour to get to the airport itself. So that’s an extra three hours you’ve spent preparing to take the hour long flight. Then add another hour at the end of the trip to arrive at your next destination. In total, around 4 additional hours are added. Depending on where you are going, it may make a lot more sense to take the train, which brings me to my next reason:

10. You can sit for the majority of your travel time

When you fly, you are only sitting for the duration of your flight. The rest of the time you are in transit between the airport, the check in desk, the security line, border control, etc. There’s a lot of movement involved in flight travel. If the total transit time is equal between a flight and a train, at least you can be comfortably sitting down when taking the train! This isn’t so much that I prefer to be lazy, but rather, maybe I want to read a book, or get some work done, etc. The time is mind to spend as I like.

11. It Feels Good

Literally. I love the feeling you get when you go through a tunnel, or really fast, and your ears start to pop. I know this feeling isn’t for everyone but I just find it so relaxing!

12. You Still Have Service

While most trains don’t have wifi, a lot of them are slowly starting to add the service to their routes. What’s better is they don’t charge $25 for 30 minutes of service! Even if your train doesn’t have wifi, as long as you have local service, your cell phone will work so you can stay connected while traveling.

It's better to travel by train! Train Travel Benefits
Do you prefer trains over planes? What is your favorite mode of transportation?
June 29, 2017
I’m an American photographer and writer based in Paris after living in New York for 7 years and then and spending a year and a half traveling. My work has been featured by the Paris and Nice Tourism Offices, Art Basel, and Refinery 29. Culture Passport is a place to share my travels and experiences in new places, with a focus on cultural attractions.

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3 Comments Leave Yours!

I agree with ALL these reasons. Trains are always so much easier. Another reason that always makes me choose trains is that they are better for the environment. I’m always looking to reduce my carbon footprint.

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I completely agree with you about train travel!! My friend and I traveled around Europe solely by train and it definitely worked out being cheaper and saved a ton of time. It’s my fave mode of transport :)

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And it was so nice not having to worry about stupid bag size restrictions/food and drink restrictions for 8 weeks of travel!

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