After a series of seemingly unfortunate events caused by excruciating interactions with airline companies, I have concluded this: trains > planes. In short, airlines selling an image of cheap, hassle-free flights have found ways to make money in every way possible. I’ve written about this once.
But I’m not here to be a downer on why this sucks or why that’s bad. Here are 5 ways the French get it right when it comes to travel.
- There is no wait
If you want to be practical and get around, you need transportation that will allow you to do so. In France, you buy your ticket either online or at the train station, you validate it at the machine, you hop on your ride, and you go. There is no wait in lines.
- NO ONE TOUCHES YOU
There is no TSA at the train station. It takes a certain level of trust, I guess, to allow people on and off trains without having to feel them up.
- No one snoops through your crap
Public versus private, people. Come on. “Let me just open all your purse pockets and your suitcase real quick in front of the world, just to make sure you’re not carrying explosives, arms, drugs and other goodies with you on your weekend trip. That would be typical at the airport, not at the train station.
Yes, those are also very depictive of the country. Buses, trams, trains, metro. Everyone shows their discontent by striking. And then everyone else shows their discontent, and I guess things work out somehow. Strikes are normal here.
- You get what you pay for
There is good coffee, there is crappy coffee. There is quality chocolate and then there are dry chunks of je ne sais pas quoi. I’m not talking about transportation here. I am talking about life. But in terms of trains and planes, you may get a cheaper plane ticket yet end up paying more getting from the airport to the center. Consider your options.
In short, before buying your plane ticket, think about how much time and money you are actually saving. You just can’t arrive at the airport at the last minute and hop on the plane. There are lines, check-ins, airport security, and so on. Then, it usually takes a while to get to the airport. And as I mentioned, the ride between the city center and the airport might cost you more than you expected (around 14 euros in Lyon and a half-hour train ride, for example). Train stations, however, are usually not far off from the center at all.
No, I am not hating on the TSA, security policies, planes and airline companies (well, maybe a little on the airline companies— those money-suckers). I understand the need for having certain precautions when it comes to travel, especially international travel. And no, I do not hate planes, I actually enjoy being in the air. I wanted just to show my appreciation for trains, that’s all.
And on a very last note, I also got an Instagram. Follow me on my adventure to god knows where. My contract here in France ends in 2 weeks…