When planning a trip to Europe, most people consider taking the plane and the plane only. It’s an easy decision since airtravel is a quick, cheap and familiar travel option. But what if you wanted to take the train? We tried the Eurostar to see if it was worth your consideration.
With £40 one way trips to a number of European destinations, the cost is one of the biggest pulls for those looking to travel on a budget. However, these budget carriers aren’t always comfortable, with sore bottoms and cramped joints being the only things included within the price.
Air travel is intimidating too. With international flights requiring you to arrive 2 hours before departure and a number of limitations on what you can carry; there’s a lot that could be improved on & that’s before you ever begin looking for a hotel.
This is immediately where the Eurostar steps up.
With a number of travel and hotel options being offered directly on the Eurostar website, the entire process is streamlined; from there being one single payment, to your tickets and hotel bookings available either through the app, or a download to your apple wallet – it’s easy to keep track of your itinerary.
There are other benefits too. Security, which is usually a bane of every airline traveller is vastly different here too. Passengers are welcome to bring their own food for the journey & liquids are even permitted through security – who don’t ask you to remove your shoes either.
Travel is arguably quicker too as you only need to arrive an hour before your train and if you’ve brought one big bag or more than one bag, you don’t need to wait for the luggage carousel afterwards either, even if the transit time is longer.
Take for example a trip to Brussels. Typically, this is an hour flight. You arrive two hours before departure and you might have to wait 45 minutes after you’ve landed to disembark, collect your luggage and go through security. This turns an hour trip into almost four.
On the contrary, taking the Eurostar is almost three hours flat, with an hour arrival before departure and a two hour trip – you walk out of the station without having to wait for your bags at all.
This saving can be compounded even more as Business Premium passengers can arrive just 15 minutes before departure.
There are other benefits too, with a phone signal being available for almost all of your journey, you don’t even need to rely on the complimentary wifi and entertainment options if you have a strong 4G connection, a mobile and Netflix.
Additionally, the ride is both quieter and smoother than air travel and you won’t need to wear things like compression socks or ear plugs to keep yourself comfortable.
For me though, the biggest point to celebrate is the location of the stations when compared to Airports serving these same cities. With these trains serving some of the biggest and most central train stations of their prospective cities, there is an additional argument to be made on the cost and time saving fronts.
Take for instance our recent trip to Brussels. If we had arrived at Brussels Airport, to get to our hotel, it would’ve been a 40 minute journey requiring a train and tram transfer, adding approximately €6 to our trip each way, or forcing us into considering a multi-day travel pass. On the contrary, With the Eurostar servicing the city’s central train station, we were within walking distance of the most iconic landmarks for the city as well as our hotel.
This doesn’t meant that the Eurostar is perfect when compared to the plane however, with the cost difference being the biggest factor holding it back from GOAT status.
This is because, like the plane, tickets are charged ‘each way’, inflating the costs almost immediately. Strangely though, this only applies if you aren’t looking to get a package deal, so day trips or multi-trip destinations might not be fit for those of you on a budget and looking to use the Eurostar.
Secondly, the waiting lounge quickly gets over crowded and upgrading to Business Premier doesn’t help either.
Furthermore, the lounge won’t even be open to you should you arrive more than 90 minutes before departure, so those of you looking to maximise the benefits of your ticket; i.e. those of you who say in the airport departure lounge for as long as possible, you won’t be able to apply that same trick here.
The Duty Free section is perhaps the biggest disappointment, especially when London’s Airport’s each have rather robust departure lounges to compare the Eurostar’s too.
With three shops on offer, two of which were coffee shops- travellers do not have the opportunity to get a hot meal like they would at say, Gatwick, Heathrow or Stansted.
Overall however, the Eurostar has a number of positive qualities going for it; it’s train + hotel combinations are cheap, the trains themselves are clean and the journey is quick and comfortable. As such, it easily makes my list of recommended travel options for the love birds amongst you looking to get away.