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Separate images side by side of a tourist bus, an airplane taking off, and an Amtrak train
Svetlaya & DimaBerlin & Michelle Lemon | Adobe Stock

How to Find the Cheapest, Fastest, and Easiest Transportation Options Between Destinations

SmarterTravel

Let’s be real: planning trips takes a lot of time and effort. You need to take care of accommodation, activities, and now COVID-19 precautions like pre-departure testing. Add in traveling between multiple destinations, and your research time only gets longer. It’s easy to compare options if you’re flying between cities, but what if a bus, boat, or train would be a faster option? 

One simple way to compare all of your transport options (including plane, train, bus, car, ferry, driving and walking) is the site Rome2rio, which is a free and easy-to-use app and website.

An Example: How To Get From Amsterdam To Paris

Let’s say you are planning a Eurotrip and are working out how to get from Amsterdam to Paris. Luckily, there are myriad ways to travel, including by train, bus, car and plane. But which one will be the cheapest? Or the fastest?

First, input the city pairs into the search box.

Screenshot of Rome2rio homepage
Rome2rio

In this case, it shows a 3½-hour train trip as the fastest method of transport. However, the price range shows that tickets tend to be quite high.

Screenshot of Rome2rio search results page for Amsterdam to Paris train
Rome2rio

If you were happy to double the journey time but reduce the cost by over 80%, the bus could be a good option.

Screenshot of Rome2rio search results page for Amsterdam to Paris bus and plane
Rome2rio

Scrolling down, you can see that flights between the two cities take only 1 hour 20 minutes. However, what I like about Rome2rio is that it doesn’t just include the time spent getting to and from the airports. It also builds in the time needed to check-in, pass through security, board your flight, and pick up your luggage on the other side. In this case, the flight time is tripled to over four hours when you take into account all of the waiting, making the train the quickest option.

How to Book

As you may expect, this free tool has to make its money somehow. Depending on the city and country, Rome2rio shows select train, bus and flight schedules, with links to booking tickets online.

Train ticket search from Amsterdam to Paris on Rome2rio
Rome2rio

While this option is well-integrated into the tool, I think it’s best to go to the specific train or bus company’s website to check schedules and buy tickets. This is especially important in the context of constantly changing schedules due to COVID. If you’ve booked directly through the transport provider’s website, you’ll be better positioned to get help if you need to cancel or make changes to your trip.

How To Choose If All Options Are The Same Price And/Or Time

This is a personal preference: I prefer to travel by train where possible. Train stations tend to be closer to the city center than bus stations, making it a more seamless journey. And as opposed to flying, security screening is quicker and less stressful at train stations compared to airports.

Plus, traveling by train is usually the most eco-friendly option out of train, bus and plane. So if you can enjoy a more comfortable journey and help the planet, that’s a win-win in my book!

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