Let me start this by saying that, of course, each trip is different.
For example, if we are staying in the States, we hardly ever fly; we road trip. That creates a whole different pattern of planning, packing, etc. Our international trips begin as described in the previous post, but even those will now diverge depending on the countries we visit and the in-country transportation we choose.
So let’s talk train vs. car. We have always had a car when we traveled in Europe. It allows us to go exactly where we want when we want. It’s especially good if more than a couple of people are traveling; sharing the expense of a car can save quite a bit of money. There’s no worry about dealing with luggage in trains. Renting a car for travel in Europe is just as easy as renting in the States, which you should do before you leave the country.
Major drawbacks of a car include parking (nearly impossible in cities and usually costly), the price of fuel and tolls and stress in certain countries where drivers may be more erratic that you’re used to. Trains, on the other hand, are relatively inexpensive for one or two travelers and everyone gets to see the scenery. And while trains are not available in every town you may want to go, the bus system is generally quite good to get you wherever you’d like to go where the train doesn’t.
For this particular trip to Europe and beyond, we decided that, unlike every other time we’ve traveled to Europe, we would not rent a car. Dale gets a break from driving. (OK, yes, it was Dale’s idea!). So, if we don’t rent a car, we are going to be dependent on trains for transportation, so we went to Eurail.com to choose a pass.
We counted the days/weeks we’d be on the continent (seven weeks) and the number of countries we would visit/pass through (six). Since we knew we wanted to do a lot of day tripping out of Paris, we determined that for us, the Global Pass worked best, giving us 15 days of train travel within 60 days. And since it is a major expense, we opted for the insurance which would cover it in case of loss.
(As a side note and a post for another time, we do believe in travel insurance and had already purchased it, but In this particular case, our biggest concern was losing the tickets and working directly with the Eurail company would be the most efficient means of recovery.)
We now have all our transportation covered. Let’s talk accommodations. I’m going to let Dale handle that in the next post.