What's everyone's take on taking a train versus flying when traveling? I suppose the appeal of the train is that it's generally cheaper and you get to see more of the countryside. However, train rides can be long, boring, and uncomfortable. Whereas with flying, although it's more expensive, you're going to get where you want to go quicker, thereby allowing yourself more time to travel.
Weigh in! What are some other pros/cons of each?
I much prefer the train, in fact I feel so strongly about it that I would rather go on a 10 hour train ride than a 2 hour flight. The train is relaxing, there are no check ins, no trying to get to an airport an hour before your flight leaves, no passports, often no bookings, no luggage collection etc, etc. I also think it's a lot more comfortable, you can get up and go for a walk in a train, you can go sit in the dining cart and have a nice meal whenever you like (needless to say the food on a good train is in another league to food on a plane). There's also the opportunity to get off and stretch your legs on many journeys when there's a stop at a station and socially speaking, you tend to meet a lot more people on a train, with people getting on and off, than you would on a flight. Moreover, it's flexible. Countless times I've decided at the last minute to get off at a stop which seems interesting and stay the night and obviously that isn't possible on a plane.
I also wouldn't say it's boring at all. A long flight is much more boring than a train journey. Some of the most scenic train journeys in Europe (in Switzerland, Norway, Italy and other places) are wonderful. A plane never gives you that enjoyment because the sky is the same wherever you are in the world. Of course planes are more practical for certain journeys and at times you have to take a flight, but to me, flights are just travel, a train journey is an experience in itself and if it's at all possible to take the train then I'll go for it.
Trains are great because you get to see much more of the countryside and as other posters have noted...much less stressful and restricted. But I think if you are based out of one country for the summer and do not have tons of luggage with you....flying is much better. Budget airlines allow you to fly to places that would cost you much much more to take a train to. Also, you get there quicker and have more time to sightsee in the actual city. I guess it really depends on your time, budget, etc.
Depending on your travel plan really.
If you want to see two distant places like Spain and Greece, of course a train ride wouldn't be good; but if you plan a long holiday (1 - 2months), then I recommend travelling by train through the whole of Europe!
It depends on the kind of trip you are in, it depends on the region on the globe, it depends on a LOT of variables!
For instance, I'm from Portugal, for me travelling by train is a non-option because I leave in Europe's suburbs. However, if I happen to be travelling in Central/Eastern Europe I will use the train. Why? It let's you sink in the distance, it's cheaper, you meet the locals, etc
However, I have to strongly disagree with BlankFrack!
A journey by plane can also be an experience, provided it is at least 5 hours long (Less than that and it just feels like taking a bus).
On a plane, and specially in long haul flights you can actually feel that you are crossing the planet, that is one overwhelming feeling. Travelling by place sometimes induces jet lag altered states of mind which are (some times) extremelly funny/creative.
Both have pros and cons, and it is all a matter of how you feel about it the time you decide to book the tickets
In my opinion you don't have to choose one over the other, the combination ofter makes the best way to get around. Just use common sense. if timetables tell you a trainride takes longer than 5-6 hours, see if a flight is possible. Providing you can sleep on them then see if a nighttrain is possibilities (not that reservations, and a couchette are normally not included on the railpass).
timetable of the trains for Europe can be found on www.bahn.de, and most connections can be easily found at www.flightassistent.com
Flying doesn't have to be more expensive, a company like Vueling has great and cheaper connections n Spain, and to some European cities (Couple in Italy, Paris, Amsterdam) for real bargains, if you compare it to traintickets (or if you compare it to the price of your pass/devided by the number of days)
Train. I have never travelled by train in Europe, only coach in France and UK and train in UK. But if I have the chance it is 100% train, just because you can admire the landscape. I think it is a great opportunity.
Definitely train, train stations are also more centrally located than airports anyway. We should also think of the environment and all take the train whenever possible
Depends how long would you stay in europe. Flights are not always available for cheap when you need it, train is fast but relative expensive. I recommend for a short trip maybe 2 weeks a rental car. You'll pay 29$/day for a small one and it gives you more flexibility for a good price.
[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]
It's all about the time. If you have the time for the train, take the train!! I love the ride on the GNER from Kings Cross in London up to Edinburgh. It would actually be cheaper to fly, thanks to the bargain airlines, but it's such a great ride, and I've had the best conversations on that train.
Sadly, there are simply times when one must take a flight just to make travel between two places easier. Especially Spain...