Things to Consider When Choosing a Train Ride or Vacation Car Rental

If you are traveling to Europe, renting a car or traveling has both pros and cons that can make the choice difficult. Travel guru Rick Steves explains what to consider when choosing between the two on your next vacation.

Car rental gives you more flexibility in scheduling and can take you to distant locations, but leaves you vulnerable to car theft, damage, and parking fees. Trains, on the other hand, allow you to see the landscape and travel at a relaxed pace, but they may be slower than driving, or they may not get you exactly where you want to go. The next time you’re planning a trip in which both are possible, consider a few things:

  • geographic range (trains are better if you cover a large area)
  • railway coverage (e.g. Switzerland is crossed by an extensive train network, and trains in Ireland are rare)
  • urban or rural (car is a pointless problem in a big city, but useful in rural areas)
  • number of travelers (a car is usually a cheaper option if used with more than two people)
  • luggage (a car is better if you pack your lungs poorly)
  • children in tow (car travel is more flexible, but there is room for children on the trains)

Also consider cost and safety. Some car rental companies charge extra or the price of gas can be high in the country you are visiting. Train tickets can be expensive too, especially if you want to book a cabin for the night. Both cars and trains pose dangers in less secure countries, so do your research before traveling to see if you can afford a personal driver or guide. Rent a car or take a train? | Rick Steves


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