Just over 9 weeks til we head off, so starting to nail down some specifics like transport. The big question is this... when travelling throughout the UK and Europe, is it better to go with car hire, buses or train transport? we're looking for the cheapest option, and so far i've been trawling through hundreds of websites getting quotes, etc. But i just want to know... from everone's personal experience whats the best way to get around?
We'll be there for three months, starting off in Scandinavia, then onto the UK, then back through Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, France and Spain.
(Also any extra special places worth visiting in these areas i'd love to hear about.)
Speaking for the UK - Hiring a car on a weekly basis can work out to be a cheap and flexible way to covering a lot of ground, especially if there's more than one of you. A quick check on a local company I use gives 7 days hire at £99 for a small hatchback. Added fees are normal, but not too bad. Longer hires can mean 'unlimited daily mileage' too. Best to check hiring conditions - how long you been driving, age limits, especially what documents you'll need to show.
I'd imagine it's pretty similar within Europe, though I don't know through personal experience. Heard it's best to check generic sites rather than directly with the hire companies for best prices - but others will come along who know.
Regarding 'special places'? trying not to sound clever, but in my experience, it always seems to be the stuff I happen across off the beaten track.
Anyway - Good luck.
thanks fabyomama, that seems to be the cheapest for the UK especially to get off the beaten track to find the hidden stuff. I tried looking up train fares but couldnt find a site that could tell me, any ideas?
[ Edit: Edited on 06-Feb-2010, at 00:05 by mpprh ]
Just a few points .........
The basic rates include insurance that leaves an excess of around €1000 depending on company.
The people on the desks get commission for selling you upgrades, daily "collision damage" insurance (up to €15 / day), gps, child seats, etc.
Book through a cheap airline site quoting a flight to get a discount
These people offer annual excess insurance for less than 1 weeks daily charges : www.insurance4carhire.com
Avoid 2nd drivers (can be another €15 / day)
Longer journeys are cheaper by air in Europe
The biggest are Easyjet and Ryanair. You book off their websites - travel agents don't handle them. As an example for 5 May 2010 :
Depart: Stockholm Skavsta 17:05
Arrive: London Stansted 18:20
1 x Adult 99.00 SEK
Fare: 99.00 SEK
Online Check-In: 55.00 SEK
Taxes / Fees: 0.00 SEK
Total Price: 154.00 SEK
There will be an extra fee for cc's and luggage, but even at around SEK 200 each, it is the cheapest way to cover longer distances.
Probably too late to change this, but I'd have started in Spain and finished in Scandinavia. Scandinavian summers with long and warm, but not hot, days are more pleasant than the other seasons. Some of the attractions and restaurants are only open in Summer. At the same time the South is quiet and pleasantly warm earlier in the year.
Book on the national (sncf etc) rail sites 3 months in advance to get bargains. Print out your tickets online and look out for IDTGV bargains.
Check out Eurolines.
[ Edit: Edited on 06-Feb-2010, at 00:04 by mpprh ]
Thanks Peter, all very useful.
And whilst we'd love to do it the other way around, we are starting off with family in Denmark so we have to head there first.
...I tried looking up train fares but couldnt find a site that could tell me, any ideas?
I Googled 'train fares uk' and 'bus fares uk' which gave me several sites.
I just use them to get to London, or an airport, and know the exact dates when I'm traveling. Others here, who have visited the UK, will know how to get the better deals from a 'travelers' point of view. Much depends on what you want to see really.
A couple of notes:
1) car hire - please check that you're allowed to take the car out of the country to neighbouring country (mostly for insurance purposes) although that will probably be difficult or you'll be charged some crazy amount of money for the hire, plus they'll most likely want you to return the car to the same place/country. So you may have to hire in each country separately, and also add for costs to travel from one country to another.
2) bus or train - bus is usually cheaper than train travel although nowadays with many advance booking deals, there may not be too much of a price difference. Train travel tend to be faster than bus, more comfortable and more freedom of movement during travel as in you can walk around on board etc.
3) driving or public transport - if you're driving you can cover more ground, stop whenever you want etc but you'll need to account for the petrol costs, parking charges, security of the car, and also the trick is locating petrol stations which is not always easy in big cities. Public transport means you have somewhat less freedom bar from travelling from city to city (no sudden stop in the countryside for a picnic or to take photos) but it does mean you'll be less tired from driving long distances, and there's no need to worry about the car's safety and all the additional costs involved.
If you want to do more diverse parts of Europe, meaning the less visited places, look at what Wizzair is doing. They fly to many Eastern Europe destinations.
Incidentally, EasyJet do not charge card fees on Visa Electron and Ryanair do not charge a card fee on various self loaded Mastercards.