Flying may be the most popular mode of long-distance travel, but there are many other options to consider. For one, there’s the environmental impact and Covid-19. Then there’s the whole procedure of getting to airports and dealing with security and long waiting times, and then spending hours in an uncomfortable seat and perhaps worrying about turbulence or accidents. Thankfully, there are options that let you explore all of Europe without a single flight.
The classic train tour
Perhaps the most iconic traveling experience is backpacking on trains across Europe. And those of us who have experienced it can confirm that it’s an unforgettable experience. While it takes longer and sometimes costs more, you get to see plenty of nature. Plus, the seats are comfortable, and it’s possible to get up to walk around. And for digital nomads, it’s easy to work on a train but not on a plane.
To make things even better, travelers can get an InterRail card or a travel pass for another railway alliance. These things allow for unlimited travel between just about all major destinations for a month or two. And it only costs a few hundred dollars, which is less than just a few flights. Also, train stations are cheaper and easier to get to than airports.
Take the bus
Buses have come a long way in recent years. Those cramped, shaky tin cans without air conditioning are a thing of the past. These days, there are several companies offering affordable and comfortable bus rides throughout Europe. Examples include Flixbus, Eurolines, and Megabus.
Some of these buses even offer free WiFi, entertainment, and complimentary beverages. So, you get some time to relax or work even on the bus. With the right timing, you can get tickets at unbelievably low prices. Since some countries don’t have good railway connections to others and train reservations can become costly over time, these buses are very convenient solutions.
The booming rideshare business extends far beyond private taxi services like Uber. Long-distance ride-sharing and carpooling offer lots of convenience to travelers while also helping to reduce excess driving and its impact on the climate. Services like Blablacar help you make the most of this.
How does it work? Basically, it connects travelers to drivers who are going to the desired destination with free seats. Then, they split the costs. So, travelers get a private ride without those sky-high taxi fares. Also, there’s the chance of having great conversations with a helpful stranger. So, it’s a bit like hitch-hiking, but without the risks and uncertainties.
Fixing the accommodation issue
One of the main limiting factors when traveling in the past has been finding accommodation. While hotels and hostels are abundant in big cities, they’re scarce in other places. This has restricted travelers to direct journeys between capital cities. So, the choice was often between a whole-day bus ride or a more convenient flight. While other routes exist, they were often more.
stressful and unreliable.
Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. First of all, there are those big sites that gather all hotels and hostels in a convenient format where the booking is quick and easy. And they cover establishments in smaller towns and villages too. Also, sites that let travelers rent homes directly from the residents provide plenty of affordable options off the beaten path. Therefore, it’s easy to break journeys up into smaller chunks and stay overnight in some small town without hassle.
Putting it all together
Since every traveler has a different idea of what sites are the most attractive and what constitutes an enjoyable journey, it’s best to consider all options and combine them to meet those personal needs. The number of sites to see and the intended duration of each stay affects which mode of transport is the best. A quick search is usually enough for an optimized and exciting journey throughout Europe without any flights.
This all becomes much easier with the help of a site like Rome2Rio. Inputting a destination and a starting point gives a comprehensive list of options and price comparisons. Everything from boats and trains to local public transport and taxis appears with an estimation of the cost and duration. Routes show up on a map, and you get direct links to ticket offices.