Have you already made your Summer Travel Plans? If you haven't don't overlook the possibility of using trains to get there.
With wife and daughter getting ready to embark upon a trip to Zürich to visit friends, my wife was thinking about driving from Frankfurt to Zürich and hadn't thought about the other possibilities. She jokingly said that they could take the train and I said why not. The logic had been that for one person the train might be cheaper than driving by car but for a trip with multiple people, going by car was bound to be the cheaper way to go, especially after you buy all the tickets for everyone.
Since we're now in the middle of Summer Vacation in our region of Germany, many other families are on vacation and so the various autobahns are busier with people going here and there and what was going to be a simple simple leisurely drive could now turn in to a traffic nightmare where you're parked on the autobahn wondering when you'll be able to drive a few feet, let alone actually get there. Then there comes the next course of how much longer till we get there. All the fun can quickly disappear on such a drive. This was also forgetting that while I have often enjoyed some of the longer car trips that I've taken, my wife isn't very fond of them. I can't blame her. She's joked about it being an American thing, I don't know maybe it is. I do remember coming back from a trip to Austria that took us about four hours longer than it should have due to holiday traffic that I now try not to underestimate it.
Another factor that is sometimes overlooked in the planning/calculations is the wear and tear on your car. For my wife she was thinking that the cost of the trip would have been a couple of tanks of gas there and a couple more on the way back, end of story. Since our cars are getting older, we need to consider the wear and tear on our vehicles. Also, if your someone that is leasing a vehicle with definite mileage restrictions, that trip might very well cost you more than the price of the gas to get there and back.
In the U.S. I didn't travel by train very often, but since moving to Germany I've traveled in them from time to time, taking one daily to downtown Frankfurt for almost a year. While some trains are nicer than others, they're a definite means of getting places. A few years ago I did two different train trips in Switzerland and found that that the Swiss take pride in their trains and they can be very enjoyable. The scenery can take your breath away. In one one trip we went from Zürich to Jungfraujoch- The Top of Europe (the highest point in Europe that you can get to by train) and you go by this one church from three different points of elevation, if a friend hadn't told us about it, I might have thought that I was seeing things. Once you're at the top, you can go into a glacier and be warned it is very cold, even in the Summer (burrrr!). To contrast this trip, we went to Lugano, which borders Italy, so the temperature is more tropical. Both trips were a blast by train and while driving them would most likely not taken us along the same path anyways, the driver can't really enjoy the scenery.
The trains oftentimes offer family packages or other promotions, so it might just be cheaper than you think to go by train. My wife looked online and found that the price was about the same as she had figured for gas, so she booked a couple of train tickets. I'm sure that our daughter will enjoy the trip. Hopefully you can use the train for some of your Summer travels. I hope that you all are able to have a happy and safe Summer vacation.
Photocredit: Lakeside Retreat courtesy of davidpound.Technorati Tags: travel, europe, Italy, Switzerland, Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe, Lugano