Perhaps you live in England, and want to take a European holiday. Or perhaps you’re from the US, and planning to see the great cities of Europe on your vacation. Either way, you need to find the best way to get from London to the European continent.
Luckily, you do have options, and can make the trip for a reasonable cost. Let’s look at some choices – planes, trains and automobiles.
1. Book a flight
Sometimes, it’s cheaper and faster to fly, especially if you’re not going to Paris or Brussels (where the train goes). You can fly to any airport in Europe. For travel to the continent, you can take a major airline, or one of the super discount airlines.
Ryan Air and Easy Jet are two incredibly cheap airlines that fly between London and many European cities. Prices can be ridiculously cheap ($30 fares do happen). There are some downsides, though. It’s bare bones service, and they aren’t known for great reliability. Also, make sure you know all the fees, because you will pay extra for everything from baggage to boarding passes. It may not be so cheap once you add it all up.
Major airlines also fly all over Europe. They have a better reputation than the carriers, but it comes at a price. If you have tight travel plans, reliability could be important.
Plane pros: You can get almost anywhere in Europe by plane, and for most destinations, it’s faster than taking a train. You can get some great deals, too.
Plane cons: Travel to and from the airport is an added cost to consider. Also, airport travel time and security lines can add quite a bit of time, so it’s not always as fast it seems.
2. Take the train
If your destination is Paris or Brussels, you can take a high speed train called the Eurostar. From London to Paris, this train takes just two and a half hours, and can get you there for about $100 (and up) per person, one way.
The Eurostar train leaves from St. Pancras Station in London, goes through the Chunnel (the tunnel under the English Channel) and deposits you at the Gare du Nord in Paris, or Brussels Midi/Zuid. On board the train, you’ll find comfortable seating, big windows, and food service. Find out more at Eurostar.com.
Train Pros: The train is fast, and you get to see some countryside along the way. You won’t need to pay any baggage fees unless you have a ton of luggage. You arrive at a convenient downtown location. Most important? Trains are fun!
Train Cons: To get to other European destinations besides Paris or Brussels, you’ll need to check connecting train schedules and buy a ticket for that, too.
3. Drive yourself
If you live in England, you may want to take your car over to the continent so you can drive around Europe. If you’re on vacation from elsewhere, it would be cheaper to travel by plane or train, and just rent a car when you need it. You can take your car across the English Channel in two ways – by ferry or through the Channel Tunnel.
The shortest ferry route is from Dover to Calais. The boat trip is about an hour and a half, and you can take a car with two passengers across for about $100 and up (one way). For ferry information, see AFerry.co.uk.
For the Chunnel trip, you don’t actually drive your car through the tunnel. You drive onto a train car, which takes you through the tunnel, then lets you out on the other side. This also costs about $100 for a car with passengers. For tunnel information, see Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.
Automobile pros: Having a car means you can go wherever you want, when you want. It’s especially good for travel in rural areas, small towns, or when your trip involves lots of travel from town to town. You can bring as much luggage as you can fit in your car.
Automobile cons: This only makes sense if you already have a car in the UK. Gas is expensive, and parking can be problematic or pricey in big cities. If you don’t need the car, it may be cheaper to travel without it. Some people love the ferryboat ride, but others prone to seasickness are not so enthusiastic.
It’s always nice to have choices, and for this trip you do. Depending on your itinerary, you can figure out what makes the most sense. When you’re comparing options, just be sure to add in all the extras (both time and money) to make sure you’re getting a good comparison.
If you shop around, you will be able to find some good deals. If you book ahead, and if you’re flexible about when you travel from England to Europe, you will find that you can travel quite reasonably.
When you’re in England, staying in family apartments in London can be a good choice. If France is part of your trip, you can find Paris weekend deals and have a lot of fun.