Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to Plan a Cross-Continental Adventure pt. 4

Once you know your rough itinerary it’s time to figure out the mode of transportation. A lot of people (myself included until recently) do not know how much is actually available to them in terms of transportation which is why I am very eager to write this post.

As of now, you have probably been told of one mode of transport: The Eurail. Yes, this is a great method that is very simple, but it is not your only option. *disclaimer: I am in no way trash talking the Eurail system (except for the "fuck no" part)- simply offering advice on other means of transportation.* These options will rely heavily on your “travel style” so I have made a nifty system to simplify the options for you. Keep in mind you can always double dip or cross over- I ain’t boxin’ you in!



Travel Style Best Suited



Wine & Diner, The WWOOFer, The Backpacker

Car Rental


Wine & Diner



The Hiker, The Hostel Hopper, The Backpacker, The WWOOFer



The Hiker, The WWOOFer, The Hostel Hopper

Small Vehicle Purchase


The Backpacker, Wine & Diner

Eurail: Yes, they have flexible plans. Yes, you can get almost anywhere by train. Is it suitable for a long-term traveler? FUCK. NO. This plan is ideal if you are traveling for about a month in the same country or a few neighboring ones…but seriously it is a rip off if you are traveling for an extended period of time (3 months+). Trains are expensive, and are run by the government so they are the most highly advertised form of transportation. The Plus Sides: They are beautiful trains 9 times out of 10, and you are very comfortable, and you get where you need to be fast. It’s a pretty great place to sleep if you need one, and if you’re only traveling for vacation purposes or for limited time, it’s a simple option. The Down Sides: Yes, you get a great window view, but you don’t get to see the journey the same way. Even if you are in a car at least you can stop and take pictures. Everything is whirling by you at very fast speeds. The “unlimited” plan is not even close to being unlimited, and you could be spending thousands of dollars if you use it as your primary transportation.

Car Rental: Pretty much the only style this suites is the vacationer who has a big budget. The Plus Sides: You are pretty much in control of your whole trip. You can leave on your own terms, decide where to go, and when to stop. Down Sides: Can be costly, and in a foreign land parking can get rather expensive and confusing.

Hiking: Literally the cheapest form of travel. You have maximum control over where you are going and the route you plan to take. The Plus Sides: Allows you to physically experience every moment of your journey, keeps you in shape, saves money for activities and food stuffs, and gives you the ultimate in bragging rights Down Sides: rain, sleet, snow, blistering heat, physical exhaustion, and sore muscles are quite possibly in your future.

Bicycling: Basically the faster form of hiking. While you spend a little more in gear, you save time, your back, and can carry more. The Plus Sides: bike racks and saddle bags make it much easier to carry items without killing your body. Bragging rights are also a major plus. Resources like make it possible to literally create maps of your exact route. Down Sides: weather, flat tires (although very fixable), thievery

Small Vehicle Purchase: This method is a little more difficult, but very very possible. In the end, this option winds up being way cheaper than taking the train and could possibly be worth the hoops you will need to jump through. Basically, you can purchase a used vehicle or scooter and sell it when you are ready to leave. For more specific details on this process, send me an email. The Plus Sides: ultimate freedom in travel, temporary investment that can be resold later. Down Sides: gas money, insurance, hoops to jump through, parking, breakdowns

Supplementing your transportation choices

In order to get the ideal transportation for you, it is possible that you will have to supplement your transportation with other options.

Bus/Coach: The bus system is much more limited than the trains, but is also significantly cheaper. If you are hiking/biking and fear going through mountainous areas, the bus is a great way to stay warm while you avoid the tricky areas. Also a great resource if you don’t have the money to continue with the trains.

Ferries: Great way to cut corners in travel. If you are short on time and have the option to, ferries are a great way to get from point a to point b for minimal moneys. If you don’t mind staying on the deck, you could save $50 or more. For example, we won’t have the time to go through southern France so we are taking a ferry straight from Italy to Spain. Much cheaper than the rail, and faster than a bus.

Metro: For inner city travel, you’d be crazy not to use the rail. Biking will save you some money, but sometimes you will need to use the metro to avoid highways or busy streets. Prices vary, but this can help you out a lot if you’re in a time crunch.

Whatever method you choose, take note of the costs. Always plan for the little accidents and add them to your budget. Research forums and get advice on methods that others have tried. If you have any questions about these methods of travel or have something you’d like to add, please feel free to comment or send me an email at

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