How should we travel?

I thought that I would discuss forms of transport in the countries one is visiting. We ourselves have now used almost every form of transport in our travels and found advantages and disadvantages in each of them. These also change as one ages and your physical abilities change. I shall give some detail on the various forms of transport we have used and some of our experiences and then create a separate table of what we believe to be the advantages and disadvantages.

Car Hire

In 2006 we hired a car to travel through Italy, Switzerland and France and then another one for the UK. At first we had been pleased to learn that, as we had made the booking more than 60 days in advance, we would get an upgrade on what we had requested and paid for. Our request was for a 1600 litre engine vehicle as we knew that we would be spending some time in slightly mountainous areas and wanted it to be strong enough to take us through all these without mishap. On arrival at the car hire company at the airport in Rome, we completed all the forms and were directed to our upgraded car. It was not just one level up as we expected but 3! It was a top of the range Peugeot 607, 3-litre diesel. When we enquired this the staff were extremely unhelpful and disinterested. On returning the vehicle to the Paris branch, we learnt that it had been given to us because they wanted it back there from Rome. Such a large vehicle in the narrow streets of Rome, Pisa and Como was no fun, especially as we were also having to learn to drive on the right hand side of the road. Sadly, the car also got damaged when turning into a narrow driveway in Pisa and we had not taken out the excess insurance as we thought that it was too expensive. Repairs charged were even more so!

The car we hired in the UK was, in fact, smaller than we had requested – an 1100 when we had asked for a 1400 litre engine. When we enquired we were told that there was no record on our order for the 1400 let alone being upgraded. Fortunately the UK is pretty flat and has some good roads so we were in fact quite happy with it. It was big enough for our purposes and small enough to get around those English country lanes. Besides taking the extra insurance this time we also had to pay for a 2nd driver which was a very good idea as things do happen. On this journey there was not a problem but in 2012 Trevor hurt his back and I had to drive for 3 days while it healed. It was then that I discovered that he has a Masters Degree in backseat driving. It was quite exhausting.

Train

As I have mentioned in a couple of other posts, twice we have purchased a Eurail Train Pass instead of hiring a car. We found this to be a very good option even though one has to carry luggage around the stations and on & off the trains. Generally, the trains in Europe are very good and run according to the time-tables. In Switzerland many of the trains are controlled remotely and doors close in accordance with the clock so as to keep accurate time. This did cause us a very minor problem in Geneva where I had boarded the train to Interlaken with the 2 suitcases but Trevor was still on the platform as the doors started to close. This would have been a really serious problem if, for some reason the doors had not stuck and reopened, as I had the ticket and the cell phone. It was a close call which made us even more careful.

In 2010 we had a Eurail Global Pass which gives 1st class travel, when available, and means that you can travel in any of 28 countries for the applied for time. It can be used on all forms of public transport including trains, buses, trams and boats. For example, we decided to travel half the distance from Interlaken to Lucerne by boat enjoying 2 hours of gentle cruising and admiring the scenery before hopping on to a train to finish our journey. We spent the day in Lucerne and one of the things we did was to take a boat to the other side of the lake for our lunch on the Pass. 

In 2014 we were in Eastern Europe and had to have separate Passes for each of the countries we were visiting, Poland, Germany, Croatia and Czec Republic as the latter 2 are not in the list of the 28 countries for a Global Pass. We also had to take a 2nd class ticket as the cost would otherwise have been astronomical. Using the Pass though was still a very good way of travelling and is financially worth it.

Coach

Although I went on a 2½ week coach tour to the UK and Ireland in 2008, the two of us have now had 2 trips travelling in a group on a coach as the first part of each of these trips. You may have seen my posts on our trip to Oberammegau to see the Passion Play and our 7 days travelling around Bavaria and just into Austria at Salzburg. We found this to be a very nice way of seeing things and being a little ‘pampered’ at the same time as the driver of the coach in each instance would see to the loading and unloading of our luggage. He knew where we were going when and so it was not our problem to have to search for the right train or to read the map to find the correct route to our next destination.

As can be seen from the above there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these forms of travel and I have listed what I can think of in the table below. If you have anything to add please let me know and I shall willingly include them.  I have published this as the Day 8 blog of my 30 Day blog Challenge

 

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FORM OF TRANSPORT ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
TRAIN
  1. Able to enjoy scenery
  2. Can eat meals at convenient times and in comfort
  3. Do not have to pay fuel or toll costs
  4. Can travel overnight if so wish
  5. Do not have to worry about traffic signs in different languages
  6. Do not have to worry about driving on different side of the road
  7. No concerns about finding parking for a vehicle
  8. No need for an intenational driver's licence
  9. No concern for accident or 2nd driver costs
  1. Restricted to train travel times
  2. Have to carry luggage on & off the trains and to & from accommodation
  3. Many train doors are not level with the platforms and so it can be difficult getting more than one item on to the train
  4. Sharing of compartment with strangers
  5. Cannot stop when one sees an interesting place
  6. Have to carry food on to the train or purchase on the train which can be expensive
HIRE CAR
  1. Freedom to decide routes
  2. Freedom to decide when to stop to enjoy places and when to have meals
  3. Luggage needs only to be carried from Hotel/B&B parking to room
  4. No timetable restrictions
  5. Spend as much time as one wishes at any place of interest
  6. Have option of increasing or decreasing length of stay in a place.
  1.  Must have an international driver's licence which has a cost implication, including for a photo
  2. Insurance is expensive
  3. Need to pay for fuel which is expensive in the UK & Europe
  4. Breakdowns can occur
  5. Cannot choose exact type of car, just within a category
  6. Pay extra for 2nd driver
  7. Payment of tolls and road taxes per country travelled
  8. May need to accustom to driving on otherside of the road
 COACH 
  1. Everything is booked and organised by the Tour Operator
  2. All the main tourist attractions visited
  3. No worries with regard to routes
  4. No worries with regard to tolls or road taxes
  5. Travel in comfort
  6. Luggae loaded and unloaded
  7. Meet new people from all over the world
  8. Get information on attractions from a trained guide
  1. No choice in diverting from routes to see something else which catches your interest
  2. Strict time controls to visit attractions
  3. Do not know members of the group
  4. Coaches all go to same places, so can get very crowded
  5. One official guide for the trip whom you may or may not like or understand

 

 

 

About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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