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Budget-Friendly European Journeys: Trains Beat Planes for Flight-Free Summer Vacations

Budget-Friendly European Journeys: Trains Beat Planes for Flight-Free Summer Vacations

European rail has become the preferred alternative for holidaymakers who want to avoid airports with all their hassles, delays, and costs.

It’s not just better for our planet. You can save money by taking the train.

As a Which? research suggests families can save money on travel by choosing sleeper trains instead of short-haul flights.

Consumer advocacy group says a family of four can save up to PS100 (EUR115), if they travel by sleeper train.

Families with more children can save up to PS250 (EUR287).


Here are some ways to save money on your holiday.

What sleeper trains routes can you save money on?
Which? analyzed the costs of three European sleeper routes and two UK routes.

They compared, for the European routes of Paris to Vienna, Brussels Vienna and London Berlin, the price of a private compartment during the first week in August with the cost of the cheapest flight plus a night of accommodation.

Nightjet is Europe’s biggest sleeper train operator.

A couple could save money on these services by flying. A couple with up to four children is better off taking the train.

“Groups of four could save PS94, while a bigger group could reduce their holiday bill by a whopping PS267,” Which? concluded.

The ticket for the London to Berlin Sleeper Route, operated by European Sleeper, is slightly more expensive than both a flight plus a night of accommodation.

Rory Boland is the editor of Which? Travel acknowledged that the price of travel is still a barrier to eco-friendly travel.

“While new sleeper train routes have launched across Europe, fares are prohibitive for many travellers,” he mentioned.

“Our research found solo travellers and couples would have to pay significantly more to choose the train over the plane. But the good news is that there are savings to be made for families and larger groups who can share train compartments.”

In the UK, sleeper trains cost about the same as flights

There are two sleeper trains in the UK: GWR Night Riviera, which runs from London Paddington Station to Penzance and Caledonian Express, which runs from London Euston Station to the Highlands.

Cornwall’s sleeper services cost the same as a flight. Railcard holders get a discount around PS50 (EUR57.50) The passengers can also use a free surfboard or bicycle.

A family of six or four would pay the same amount for a Caledonian Sleeper, a luxurious option that is well-known.

What is the environmental impact of flying?
By avoiding air travel, you can reduce your carbon footprint.

The average person in the Democratic Republic of Congo emits about 242kg of CO2 per year.

Trains traveling along the same route emit around 32kg CO2 per person, which is a reduction of seven times the emissions from flights.

UK domestic flights emit more CO2 than rail. By rail, a trip from London to Aberdeen emits only 50kg CO2 per person. However, by air the amount is more than doubled to 119kg.

Rail revival and ‘slow travel’
Rail travel offers a great alternative to flying, with no security lines, more relaxed baggage restrictions and stunning views.

It’s also less likely that you will be stranded due to a flight cancellation at the last minute or a long delay. This can ruin even the best-planned vacation.

There are many ways to view Europe from a train’s window. With over 200,000km of rail in Europe, you can see the continent from a variety of angles.