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Rent a Car or Ride a Train?


To rent a car or ride a train? This can be a debate of anyone planning a trip, especially if you are planning on traveling to Europe. Many people think trains are the easier and quicker option, but this is not always the case. On the other hand, renting a car can seem like a waste of money if you don’t plan on leaving the city you are staying in. To decide what is best for you, consider the following factors:

  • How many people are you traveling with?
  • How far do you want to travel?
  • Where do you leave your belongings?
  • Which method is quicker?
  • What kind of schedule do you want?

How Many People Are You Traveling With?

This can be a huge factor in deciding if you want to travel by train or car because of the cost. Trains can be an affordable option for individuals or small groups of people, but the more train tickets you have to buy means the more expensive a train ride will cost. On the other hand, renting a car may be cheaper for large groups as there is one, flat cost. Compare costs and see what works best for you and your group.

top view of zigzag country road
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

How Far Do You Want To Travel?

Are you planning on going to one or two main cities, or traveling around a bit more? This may play a part in your cost. One train ticket may be cheaper than renting a car for your whole trip. However, if you are going to several cities, one rental car may be a more affordable choice.

several bags on trolley near train in station
Photo by veerasak Piyawatanakul on

Where Do You Leave Your Belongings?

Would you rather sleep in a hotel, or on the road? Falling asleep on a train and waking up in a completely new place sounds magical. You get your rest and you can spend a full day in your new destination! One thing you may want to consider about riding trains, especially overnight, is where you will leave your belongings. Showing up in a new town early in the morning is great, except you have to carry around your luggage until your hotel’s check-in time. The nice thing about a rental car is that you can leave your bags in it and know they are safe, even if you can’t check into your hotel yet.

Which Method Is Quicker?

Trains don’t have traffic like cars do, so a ride with no stops may be a quick, easy ride! However, they can also have several stops and you may have to switch trains over the course of your trip. These stops can add up quickly and make your trip a lot longer than it would have been if you chose to drive. Check out driving time and compare them to train times. It may be worth it to take a longer train ride if you can rest and get some sleep instead of staying up the whole drive – especially if you are driving late at night. 

What Kind of Schedule Do You Want?

Train times are set for you, but with a car you can completely go at your own pace and leave whenever you want. This may or many not matter to you, and that is something only you can decide. If you are only going to travel between two cities, then rolling with train times is reasonable. However, if you are traveling a lot and your plans don’t work with the train times you can find, then renting a car may be better for you. 

Do you prefer traveling by car or by train? What other factors do you consider when making this decision? Let me know in the comments!

Keep Track of Your Research

There is a lot to consider when deciding to rent a car or ride a train. To help you keep track of your research, download my Transportation Guide! It will help you stay organized and gather all the information you need to make your decision. You can use this guide again and again on all of your adventures!

Anna’s Pick of the Week

Should you choose to rent a car, start your search on to easily compare all of your rental car options! I use Hotwire to start my search because it’s quicker than searching on each individual rental car website.

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