A friend is coming to visit me here in Berlin over Xmas -- we are interested
in traveling around germany and eastern europe, and I wonder if it would be
cheaper to travel by car (approx. US$125/week + gas) or by train. I have a
BahnCard, which gives me 50% discount on train travel within Germany, and I
know that train tickets in E.Europe are relatively inexpensive. My friend
will receive no discount (as she doesn't have a BahnCard). Another con-
sideration is the cost of gas in europe, especially if we are doing a lot
of driving -- oh, and also the time lost driving instead of riding the train.
I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has experienced both of these forms
of travel, or just from anyone who has an opinion. :) Thanks!
It really depends on a number of factors (your itinerary in
particular); as a rule of thumb, it's cheaper for two people to travel
by car in Western Europe. It's the opposite in Eastern Europe, where
trains are cheap and rental cars much more expensive.
BTW, car rental companies normally prohibit their rental vehicles from
going to Eastern Europe; some do have a beat-up fleet to meet this
increasing demand, but they charge a significant premium for the
"priviledge" of driving in the East. The main reasons are: bad roads
that shake the living "bolts" out of their cars and vandalism/high
>sideration is the cost of gas in europe, especially if we are doing a lot
>of driving -- oh, and also the time lost driving instead of riding the train.
There are other considerations, too. It really is not the season for
"fahrvergnugen" in the country or roadside picnics. You should expect
bad roads, bad weather, and not much daylight. In a car, you'll be mostly
getting point-to-point and working hard at it.
On a train, you can read, relax, meet people, and if you plan your
trip right, there are many beautiful mountain passes you can't see
from the road.
Whichever way you choose, have fun!
I hate to fly over or pass by anything that I haven't seen or visited.
So it's always my preference to drive regardless of cost. Of course, I
have used public transportation but I've often been frustrated by
being able to only glimpse something that I'd've much preferred to
* Origin: The Airtight Garage, San Francisco, Cal. 415-641-0348 (8:914/219)
Train travel in E. Europe is practically free compared to Germany.
Also, the trains tend not to be nearly as crowded. You can usually
get one of those long triple seats in a 2nd class cabin to yourself on
an overnight train, and these are reasonably comfortable to sleep on
so you don't need to pay for a couchette. I went by train from
Czestochowa (southern Poland) to Gdansk (at the northern tip) for
something like $15. But the trains in Poland are pretty slow, and the
posted schedules are not always correct. In Hungary things were
similar but a little more expensive. I don't know about other
countries but most (Romania etc.) have to be cheaper still.
If your friend is not an EC national, she can get a Eurail pass
(similar to Interail) for use in west Europe which if used efficiently
is quite a bit cheaper than travelling with a Bahncard. If she is
under 26, a 5 day flexipass costs around $200. This allows travel
during any 5 (not necessarily consecutive) days in a 2 month period,
which translates into 5 one-way tickets between anywhere and almost
anywhere for $40 each. I think a one-way DB ticket from Berlin to
Amsterdam cost something like $150 so even at 50% off the pass is
cheaper. The Eurail pass works in all W. European countries except
England, and also works in Hungary (but it's cheaper to just buy
tickets there). It doesn't work in other parts of E. Europe
but there are other, cheaper passes that work there.
I think the best technique is to use a flexipass for expensive
trips and buy individual tickets for cheaper trips.
car rental approx. $170/week + gas ( $4/Gal ??) <-- Germany
train 5 day pass $310 CAR
Train Time TRAIN Km miles Gallons Gas$
4:50h Frankfurt-Munich $75 440 275 7.8 31.20
5:00h Munich-Vienna $65 440 275 7.8 31.20
9:00h Vienna-Frankfurt $117 720 450 12.8 51.43
Total $257 $283.83
What do you think? considering the convenience of the car
VS. overnight riding of the train (sleeping?&saving hotel)
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