Planes, trains and automobiles
After traveling to a few other cities since my last post, I’ve officially used three modes of transportation: planes, trains and automobiles (bus).
So, for those of you who are studying abroad soon, I highly recommend reading and referring to this article when planning a weekend excursion. Despite the fact that I am only six weeks in, I wish there had been someone to tell me that the train is not always the best way to go, despite popular belief.
Starting off with the train: it is, hands down, the most hassle-free and spacious choice when compared to air travel, and by far quicker than the bus. However, with that being said, it has not been my first choice. While getting the Eurorail pass may be economically savvy for some (two months of travel for 800 euro), if you are unsure of how many times you are going to travel within that amount of time, or are wary of spending that much cash at one time, it truly isn’t worth it. The only time the train has made fiscal sense for me was when I bought my ticket weeks in advance to destinations far from Paris. I emphasize buying your tickets weeks in advance because if you are looking to buy close to your departure date, it can be cheaper going with a flight instead. The trains I have taken were clean, comfortable and had outlets. The only bummer has been not having wifi, but if you’re with friends it really doesn’t matter.
The flying experience here is pretty much what you would expect: long lines, tough security and cramped seating. Yet, taking a plane can, at times, be the smart move. Of course, it is the fastest option, and if you’re going somewhere where a bus is out of the question, it is definitely worth it. If you are constantly checking flights you can find some unreal deals. I once found a flight that was 60 euro cheaper than taking the train and about three times as fast. My friend found another round-trip flight to Vienna for a mere 90 euro. Flights, of course, aren’t always this cheap, but I would definitely check flight prices, no matter how close your destination.
I decided to save my favorite mode of transport for last: the bus. Now, some of my friends here think I am crazy and have sworn they’ll never ride a bus again, but I have found it to be the most efficient for me. I draw the line when the bus ride is over eight hours, because at that point saving the extra 100 euro feels like it isn’t worth it. Otherwise, I would choose the bus each and every single time. The bus is by far the cheapest with some tickets costing as little as 15 euro (one way) and can be just as comfortable as a train and even more so than a plane. So far, I’ve only ridden with FlixBus, which has reclining seats, outlets, shaky wifi and a clean toilet. If you bring a pillow, a bag of food, and download some movies on your computer the ride is really quite smooth. There are multiple stops along the way, which is why it takes longer than simply driving straight to your destination, but you get to pass through all types of cities you may have never seen otherwise. So, if your destination isn’t incredibly far and you can afford to lose a few extra hours for travel, I would highly recommend trying out the bus, despite what others may say.
Lucy Teruel is a junior majoring in communications and minoring in political science. Born and raised on the North Side of Chicago, Lucy loves music, French, shopping, going to the gym and traveling. She’s also an avid sports fan with a particular penchant for the Chicago Cubs. She hopes to one day become a sportscaster, so don’t be surprised if you catch her on the nightly news a few years from now.