Wednesday, August 26, 2009

~ Transportation Pt. 1 (Originally Posted 2/16/08)

One of the things I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about yet is my main method of transportation...TRAINS!

Europe is connected by railway and it’s fast, safe, convenient, and can be a bargain if you’re traveling as a couple or solo!

If you are intent on driving, there are some things you should take care of before you go: First, reserve your rental car while you’re still in the U.S. so you can lock your rate in U.S. dollars. It’s not a necessary evil but it might save you some money in the long run. Next, check in at AAA to get your international driving permit. I’ve read about lots of people that drive in Europe with nothing more than their U.S. license and have had no issue with it but I guess for me, I’d rather be safe than sorry and get my international permit. I’m a little, ahem...let’s just say I’m a little “obsessive” about details so I’d rather have one than not. Third and most important (in my humble opinion), keep an eye on petrol prices. For example, if gas was priced at 1.33 euros per litre, that calculates to $1.89 per litre and don’t forget that a litre is approximately a bit more than a quarter gallon so you’re paying roughly just over $7.00 a gallon for gasoline for your vehicle.

Using that bit of information, if you’re traveling solo, a good chunk of your budget will be eaten up by relying on the convenience of driving.

Be smart, be brave, and most of all, put your fears behind you and go for the adventure!!! After all, isn’t that why you travel??

During my Italy trip, we relied solely on the rail for transportation with only one exception and I’ll talk more about that in a second. There are many websites that supply information on Eurail and how to purchase passes. Try RailEurope and Rick Steve’s website for more detailed information on using Eurail to get around.

If you’re staying in one country, consider single country passes and if you’re intent on driving you can even combine your rail travel with driving by purchasing a Rail n’ Drive pass.

During my trip to Italy, I did a rough calculation to determine how much I thought I might spend on rail travel and decided to wait until I was in the country to purchase my train tickets. For trip to England, I decided instead to purchase a BritRail pass prior to arriving in England because my rough calculations of what I might spend ended up being more if I purchased tickets separately than if I purchased a regional pass.

Overall, each trip will probably be different. Read, research, calculate to decide which method will be most cost effective for you and make the most of it!

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