Cheap air or Train

My son and friends are planning on flying into Barcelona in May and then taking the train or fly to our place in Bordeaux. From there they are heading to Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Prague. Not necessarily in that order. They were going to buy a rail pass but I am thinking they may be better off flying to certain cities and buying train passes as they go along. The train to Bordeaux is 7 hours so they are thinking of flying that leg. Question…what airlines have you flown within Europe with reasonable fares. Is a railpass more costly than buying tickets as they go? Should they buy rail online etc? Any advice or experience you may have to offer is appreciates!

Thanks Shauna

just a quickie... how many of them are there. If they are young, and it is a "matey" thing,co-voiturage might be an option. I have not really done it, but OH has both driven, and been a passenger on many trips. I know there is sites for France, but there must be larger scale websites for car-pooling. It is really simple, you either register the trip you want, and wait, or you look up to see if anyone is going your way, and ask them.

Everyone has been so kind to take time to respond to my post. I so appreciate your help. Normally I would be scouring the internet but have been dealing with moving my daughter back to school and a broken foot…lots of therapy and trying to get things ready here before I cross the pond again. My husband took this job 6 months ago officially so life is a challenge! Thank you to each of you!i am sure we will be using all of your suggestions over the next few years!

My son and his friends just graduated from college. One of the kids has an uncle that lives in Prague so they may head there. My husband recently took a job in Bordeaux and I have been dealing with my daughter graduating high school and starting college so have been back and forth the last 7 months…so I have not had time to do much research or travel.

Home delivery! Thats great especially when we usually fight Bordeaux traffic to pick them up!

Wow, never heard of this! Thanks!

I did not know about the free home delivery from SNCF. That could save us a lot of traffic headaches in Bordeaux!

Thanks, i think they are going to use easy jet for one leg.

Thank you, that is great, I will pass along to my son! Hopefully my husband and I can take advantage of some short trips.

Hi, what age's are your son's? I had a problem with mine a few years ago who went to Barcelona from paris in a car with some friends and I couldn't fly him back because he was under 16 and a minor! no cheap airlines let them fly alone.

My son recently travelled around Europe on a "Euro rail pass" which gavce him excellent deals although the train times were sometimes at unreasonable hours - but its probably worth looking at. SNCF are very cheap (compared to UK) providing you plan ahjead and book well in advance ie 2 - -3 months. I think Ryanair are hard to beat on price but they also tyravel at difficu;lt times and often to airports that aren't actually that close to where you tghink they're heading ! In summmary - research widely and book early.

Shauna, they will meet in the trains others doing the same, also they can bridge a few nights in the train when doing this city hopping in Europe. The rail pass is a lot less. Also short booking with any carrier in the summer will be, if not impossible, very expensive. All his communication gadgets will run out of power, so booking on-line will be not easy anyway. As my son did it (10 years ago) he have had his fun while we at home where a bit nervous... but he saw and learned a lot.

The Man in Seat Sixty-One is a great site for explaining how to get cheap rail travel. Buying TGV and other train tickets in advance makes them cheap (and a great way to travel in Europe). The site explains the different rail passes as well. Don't forget airports are not in city centres and you have to budget for getting into cities from them.


saves a lot of time.

n.b. check out top left hand corner on results page for cheap/indirect flights as well.

I don't know too much about this BUT I do know that booking early (say 2 weeks in advance) can get massive savings on SNCF. My wife goes Brive to Paris (non TGV line) frequently and by booking early and wading through the SNCF website she usually gets her ticket for around (single) €30-40, which is pretty good. I also know that unexpected treasures pop up on the TGV as several times I travelled from our previous address (Dole in Jura) I travelled at similar price.

Flexibility is the main thing though, so if you have a positively fixed dates it will be just luck if you strike a good deal, but it can and does happen, and woorth a bit of effort. A Seniors Card is also good IF you make more than say three intercity trips a year. Below that we have found it is better to go for the checking of the site.

I love the free home delivery of tickets from SNCF by the following day. Brilliant service. Re. crowding,well with the restrictions and checking on airlines these days everywhere gets crowded. Geneva is also embarrassing as my brother had to take his trousers off in public to prove he had metal plates in his knees! Another side benefit brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Jihadist! does a pretty good job of looking at all airline possibilities

Easyjet now have some internal flights in France as serving other European destinations from French hubs. Whether the service is any better/worse than UK based flights I cant say.

SNCF has just launched a Eurolines type service called idBus, and I believe AirFrance are revamping their regional offerings under a new banner called HOP to compete with Stelios

Hi Shauna,

Air France have just launched their new low cost airline service in France - take a look it might be helpful

I depends on what you want. If it is comfort and quick journeys then flying is probably best but overall most expensive. Budget airlines are not always the cheapest. Look at the companies offering a range of budget flights, not the airlines then search yourself. The differences can be breathtaking, as I have found a few times. Then there is rail. The TGV and comparable high speed trains are far more expensive than 'normal' fast trains, so you always have the cheaper price in exchange for a few hours more. But then you have strange things like getting to Brussels from Paris by TGV then going on a quite slow train to Amsterdam. The new high speed route that is still being finished saves less than an hour, but then you have to queue ages to get on the train like at an airport so I shall not do it again personally. Pay a lot more for almost the same! If you are travelling by Eurolines, the stretches like Paris or Amsterdam to Berlin are much longer and less comfortable than train or plane, so put it in comfort perspective as well as money and you get what you pay for... Even so, Eurolines is good so that is not a criticism of anything about it.

Shauna how about bus service with Eurolines Last summer I had 2 American girls they traveled from Frankfurt, to Amsterdam, London and back Amsterdam, Paris, Saintes . They were happy with the price and the service.