First Time Traveler - Train or Plane?
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Nov 21, 2012 5:27 AM Last Post By: hmereid
Nov 20, 2012 11:31 AM
First Time Traveler - Train or Plane?Hello! I'm currently in the early planning stages of a trip to Europe (first trip abroad, first time travelling by myself). I'm going to do three weeks - 1 in London and surrounding areas, 1 in Paris and surrounding areas, and 1 in Amsterdam and surrounding areas. I'll be going late May/early June 2013.
I want to make day trips to smaller towns outside of those big cities, so I can see more of those countries than just the really touristy stuff. Right now I'm thinking:
London -- Oxford, Windsor Castle, Stratford-Upon-Avon (I'm an English Literature major/HUGE Shakespeare person)
Paris -- Versailles, Chartres, Dijon, Auvers-ssur-oise, Giverny (some combination of those four)
Amsterdam -- Not TOTALLY sure here, but I've heard that Maastricht, Kinderdijk, and Utrecht are nice. (Any suggestions here would be great).
Basically, right now I'm trying to figure out the best way to travel between these places. I'm in Nova Scotia, and I've worked out that a flight from here to London and them from Amsterdam back home would be about $1400. A flight from London to Paris would be about $300 and a flight from Paris to Amsterdam would be about $200 (I've rounded up on all of those figures). What I'm wondering about is using trains as an alternative. Eurail seems to be the most popular one, but I don't think they operate in England? Would getting some kind of train pass be better because I plan to make day trips, or should I go with flights to the big cities and then just use trains or busses to get to the smaller places?
This is a big roadblock in my planning as I'm so new to all of this, so any help would be appreciated! I'm going to post this in the UK forum as well. Thanks!
Nov 20, 2012 11:55 AM
Nov 20, 2012 11:57 AM
Nov 20, 2012 12:08 PM
3Hi! I used studentuniverse.com to get those plane prices. I was rounding up, it`s really about $151 for Paris-Amsterdam and $240 for London-Paris. I`m doing a lot of research right now on busses/trains within the UK, but I don't think I've heard of the advance rail fares yet. I've worked out about $30 for two round trips in England - one to Oxford and one to Stratford - via bus. I can't remember the name of that bus company at the moment.
Nov 20, 2012 1:30 PM
5Don't buy a plane ticket, till you talk with us.
I figure an open jaw plane ticket is best. You won't have to interupt, your present learning trip, or abandon new friends, to get back to a flight home.
I don't know if you can buy them on-line. I hassled the web in a sweat to find the cheapest. I finally went to a small travel agency. They matched my second lowest. :)
A t.a. just bought train tickets for me, on line. And I didn't have to stand in line at the RR office.
Also I bought plane ticet cheap on kayak.com.
They went through Orits.
I had to cansel. Every miidle man got a big fee.
Nov 20, 2012 1:41 PM
As *5 - gawkabout wisely suggests, talk about your air fares before you buy one.
There are much better flight deals out there, than the two you mention in your opening post.
Advance rail fares are purchased, well.... In advance. They have both advantages and disadvantages.
The plus points.... Much cheaper than a standard fare, you usually get a free seat reservation too.
The difference in price(s) can often be over £100 per single journey.
The minus points.... You must travel on a specified train and day. If you miss it, you pay again.
It won't be an advance ticket, but the 'Full' daily fare.
In some cases (but not all), it's not possible to buy them from overseas.
Hope that's of some help. Best of luck with everything.
Nov 20, 2012 1:42 PM
7Fly into London, out of Amsterdam as you said. Use Kayak or something similar, 1400 sounds like too much..but again I have no idea what Nova Scotian dollars are worth.
Take a train on the Eurostar line through the Chunnel from London to Paris, reserve 90 days in advance to get the cheapest ticket. I believe I paid 75Euro or similar...check their website.
Then a train from Paris to Amerstdam, don't know the duration/cost.
The day trips you list are not off the beaten path, but they will get you out of the city for the most part.
London - Windsor is good, I haven't been to Oxford but I've heard Cambridge is better...can't comment.
Paris - Versailles was more crowded then Notre Dame/Mainstream Paris when I went.
Amsterdam - consider taking the 30min train to Harleem, from there you could rent a bike and head to the beach (30 minute bike ride). Other than that...Amsterdam has so much to do I feel like you'll end up wanting to stay in the city the whole time.
Nov 20, 2012 2:05 PM
8Advance booking on both trains or flights will get you the best price, and on such "short" distances the train can be the winner in terms of convenience and often time and money.
Try to get an open jaw ticket London - Amsterdam, or any other combination.
Nov 20, 2012 2:21 PM
9Utrecht is a nice and handy centrally positioned city to use as a base in the Netherlands. It's just some half hour by train from Amsterdam (Schiphol) airport, which is only marginally further away than Amsterdam itself.
It's difficult to advice on what to do. There is nothing wrong with Maastricht, but it's at the other side of the country, on the border with Belgium and - nearly - Germany. Close to Utrecht there are - apart from Amsterdam - lots of interesting cities and places to visit. Don't forget to find out whether you would like Haarlem (impressively situated on the Spaarne river and with the wonderful late 18th century Teylers museum of science), Delft (which is a little bit touristy for Vermeer, but still a gem) and, a more original destination, Zaandam (where you can have a nice walk along the Zaan river with its well-restored industrial heritage; pick up a train back in Wormerveer).
Kinderdijk is an absolute beauty, and can best be reached by taking a train to Rotterdam Lombardijen and there pick up bus 90 to Kinderdijk (check at 9292.nl, the national public transport site, also in English). From there on you could walk along the Albas river and enjoy the villages and one of the oldest Dutch landscapes. On weekdays you'll find an hourly bus to take you back.
Google maps is enough for your orientation in this part of the world, and in addition to 9292.nl you can use ns.nl (also in English) for your train journeys.
Edited by: tonfromleiden
Nov 20, 2012 3:01 PM
10What I'm wondering about is using trains as an alternative. Eurail seems to be the most popular one, but I don't think they operate in England?
Eurail is only the name of a rail pass that allows you to use trains of several European train companies. There isn't an Eurail train company that operates its own trains.
A pass won't be a good idea if you only plan to make two rides.
You'll get in this web all the relevant info about how to go by train from London to Paris and how to book your tickets (and the cheapest fare possible).
From Paris to Amsterdam, you can look for the fares in this web. The earlier you book, the cheapest it'll be...
Nov 20, 2012 4:44 PM
How exciting to be a first time traveller!
Just to echo what a few other posters have said: I'm posting from Canada and $1400 sounds a bit steep for your flight. You could probably do better but you may have to get to Montreal to get a cheaper flight. Flying out of Halifax could be more expensive.
I would take the train between cities, partly because I love trains and the ones in Canada are usually ridiculously expensive. You can see much more of a country and the landscape by taking the train. European trains are much more frequent and better utilized than trains in Canada so you'll probably end up meeting people as you go, which is a nice bonus.
Sounds like a great trip! Have fun!
Nov 20, 2012 5:10 PM
Nov 20, 2012 6:49 PM
Nov 21, 2012 5:27 AM
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