Train across Europe or drive across America?

(46 Posts)
TaggieCampbellBlack Tue 05-Mar-13 18:20:23

If I win the lottery before next summer or unearth hidden treasure I'd quite like to do one or the other or both!

I'd take the (teenage) DDs if they promise to be good.

Would it be fun or stressful?

Camp or cheapy hotels?

Or should we go to India? Or drive across Africa?

TaggieCampbellBlack Tue 05-Mar-13 18:21:47

I have no idea why this is in AIBU.

I got the train across Canada once. It was awesome!

Tee2072 Tue 05-Mar-13 18:25:15

Well, driving across America can either take 5 days or 100+. You can go either straight across or zig zag. You can take an interstate or Route 66.

See, that one I've done.

I'd take a train and a series of boats across Europe. I've never been anywhere except the UK and Italy.


HRH008 Tue 05-Mar-13 19:05:59

Ooh, get the maps out and have a look ... figure out how long you`re going to take for the holiday, then see how much you could see if you went across Europe and how much in the US ... bear in mind that the US is ENORMOUS and interstates are v. boring for teenage girls. On the other hand, how are your languages?
I would camp in Europe and do cheapy motels in the US.
V. exciting either way!

Midlifecrisisarefun Tue 05-Mar-13 19:08:31

I've no idea big is your suitcase?
I am only small

pillowcase Tue 05-Mar-13 19:14:35

I haven't been to America and have no desire really to go. I have travelled around Europe many times and Asia and Australia. Europe wins hands down. A couple of hours brings you to totally different cultures. the scenery, the history, the fooooood;

I would do the East coast of the USA. I would love to go there. Very in to Civil War stuff atm. It would be fab to actually go.

NuclearStandoff Tue 05-Mar-13 19:42:06

go to India

cumfy Tue 05-Mar-13 20:41:11

1. Get on train for 1-2 hours.
2.Step off the train into history, architecture, cuisine, sun and low homicide rates.
3. Repeat until bored.

Tee2072 Tue 05-Mar-13 21:10:41

Civil war or Revolutionary War, NL? Because East Coast would be rich in Revolutionary, not so much Civil. You'd want to go down south for Civil war stuff.

Civil war. I guess I really mean sort of south east coast and then in a bit grin I'd love to go to Gettysburg, Antietam, Richmond etc

I'd choose the American Southwest, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and SW Colorado, purely for the lovely scenery, and staying in cheapy motels is a good option.

Don't drive across Africa - I've driven in a some southern African countries and the roads are shit, especially in Swaziland.

Hassled Tue 05-Mar-13 22:46:23

You're completely unreasonable to make me have to make the choice. I would LOVE to do either of these - but Orient Express to Venice or recreating On The Road (minus the sex and drugs, probably)? It's a bloody tough call.

MooncupGoddess Tue 05-Mar-13 23:36:04

Oh, me too NL! Am currently working my way through the amazing Ken Burns documentary series. Would love to see Richmond and the Virginia battlefields.

On the other hand, I got the train from London to Istanbul a few years ago and it was brilliant.

That series is fantastic! I need to get some good history books to read on my holiday this year too smile

aldiwhore Tue 05-Mar-13 23:42:26

I would do both, but if I really had to choose (if the lottery win wasn't all that great) I'd probably drive across the states in a massive camper van/lorry and shit myself the whole route as I've watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre more than is healthy. I have a big love/hate relationship with America, but mostly, I'd love to see it all, at my own pace, with no changes and interacting with only the people I choose to.

Though a hectic backpacking tour of Europe via railcard really appeals to me as well, but without children...

tinyshinyanddon Wed 06-Mar-13 03:09:08

Drive Boston to San Diego. Camp all the way. Take 3-4 weeks. Bias as this is the best vacation dh and I had. Just a bit of an issue getting the car home from sd.

FairPhyllis Wed 06-Mar-13 03:22:50

I think there may be a certain bias from people posting at this time because the US is online now ...

I don't know that I'd drive coast to coast in the US. I can't think of a route I'd particularly want to do - although I wouldn't mind seeing Carhenge in Nebraska. I would do southwest US and the west coast - going up the Pacific Coast Highway - BUT I would hate to drive through the Bay area. I hate very busy freeways.

I would do cheapy motels because they are often weird and hilarious.

anonymosity Wed 06-Mar-13 05:05:24

I'm in the USA and I'd say get the train thru Europe. You'll be less knackered as its easier to fall asleep on a train than at the wheel of a car, obviously.
And I went inter-railing in the 80's from the UK down thru Europe stopping in France, Switzerland, Italy, round into Greece and then back up again. The trains at the start were fast and efficient, those nearer the end (going thru Yugoslavia as it then was, for 48 instead of the scheduled 24 hrs) was slow and hot and smelly and crowded and well, arduous. But that was years ago.

KateShrub Wed 06-Mar-13 05:13:37

US is a great place to drive. Cheap fuel, big comfy cars, decent motels at reasonable prices.

Europe is good too, but it's that much more work.

mathanxiety Wed 06-Mar-13 05:16:19

It's pretty easy to fall asleep behind the wheel of a car in Nebraska.

I would go to Europe, all over every single little corner.

Timetoask Wed 06-Mar-13 05:38:18

Maybe if I was 20 years younger. The idea od being stuck in a vehicle or train for so long fills me with dread. If I won the lottery there would be lots of travelling but in first class on a plan (once I got to my destination I could hire a car to do the pretty scenery drive feeling refreshed, one can only dream)

HollyBerryBush Wed 06-Mar-13 05:46:22

I'd take Europe - the history and culture alone.

America has neither.

nooka Wed 06-Mar-13 05:48:29

We drove from New York to Vancouver (well almost - four hours short) almost five years ago when we moved from the States to Canada. With a trip down the coast thrown in so that we could show our children Washington DC and visit Gettysburg and Antietam. Took about 2 1/2 weeks.

It was a bit of a crazy trip, but a great experience (even though I had bronchitis/pleurisy at the time). The battlefields were something to experience, and just the scale of the States is a bit of an experience - the prairies are just incredibly flat .

We've also done a bit of train travel in Europe, and that was great too. We like traveling smile

Tee2072 Wed 06-Mar-13 07:36:45

I gotcha now NL. I was thinking New England, which is what most people mean when they say 'the east coast'. You mean the southern east coast!

::New England born and bred girl::

I would like to see New England too grin but yes that's what I meant

Iaintdunnuffink Wed 06-Mar-13 07:51:51

I've done the train and the US twice, some great scenery! We got Amtrak month tickets. If I were to do it again with children we would hire a car at some destinations. I met a family last year who had taken a month to drive across Europe, they managed to include Denmark and Spain!

I would do a US road trip because we done loads of touring around Europe and done train across the US. If I won the lottery I'd book one of the Iceland cruises.

greenplastictrees Wed 06-Mar-13 08:21:24

It's a tough call. Train across Europe is so much fun.. I grew up only going by train on holiday and as a child it is such an exciting experience. We went to Spain, France, East/West Germant, Czechoslovakia - all sorts of random places. Then when I got to 18 I went interrailing with friends which was great fun. Most recently we visited some of former Yugoslavia which was an excellent experience and made for some quite odd tales about border guards on trains.

I've never been to the USA but am considering it for later this year. We would road trip for 2.5 weeks but are torn about where to go. We like the idea of Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans, but also fancy San Fran, Vegas and some random other towns in the West. I'd also love to visit North and South Dakota one day. Oh and Maine, Vermont, Conneticut (they remind me of the books I read).

India I recommend. We went there for 3 weeks a few years back an did a bit of a tour, mainly using trains (very exciting experience) although with a few flights thrown in. I had never visited somewhere with such a different culture before. It was a fascinating place. We really want to go back.

I would love to go to Vietnam too and travel down the reunification railway.

greenplastictrees Wed 06-Mar-13 08:28:01

Oh the train travel can be quite stressful as well by the way. I think you definitely need a sense of adventure! Some people I have been with hated it - one friend was very used to the package deal style holiday where you are met by a coach, luggage taken, e.t.c.., and the carrying everything with you on the train thing wasn't for her at all.

You also have to be willing to accept the slightly osd situations you find yourself in which may take you out of your comfort zone. In India we were sat in a compartment on a train ment to seat 6 people - they were 10 in total plus more in the luggage racks above, all staring at us (in a friendly way) because we looked different.

msrisotto Wed 06-Mar-13 08:30:10

I'd choose Europe. People romanticise driving across America but it's fucking boring to drive solidly for days. I'd fly to places in America though.

bigTillyMint Wed 06-Mar-13 08:33:26

I would love to do both.

I think America would win. But I would only take the DC if we had a mahoosive American wagon with loads of space and gadgets to stop them getting bored and moany!

BegoniaBampot Wed 06-Mar-13 08:45:54

Have done Europe and it was great. Never done the US and would love to do NY up to Boston and then to New England and do Martha's Vineyard and cape Cod and all that. Also wan to do San Francisco, Yosemite, down the coast drive Carmel a d Monterey, see the vineyards and down to LA or San Diego. Catch Death Valley. One Day.

NumericalMum Wed 06-Mar-13 08:48:14

I would love to do the European trains! I have done a bit of driving in the US but unlike here there is bugger all to see for miles between places!

I have also been to India. If you go whatever you do avoid the roads! Trains were good but the scenery from the trains was dire (squalor, litter and people having their morning poo!) everything is chaotic and as a westerner you will stick out and be hounded for money constantly and not in a subtle way! I am glad I have been but wouldn't go back too soon. I guess if you go on a very organised tour it would be better but you would miss out on a lot of atmosphere. We had our 4YO with us and she loved it. Thankfully only DH got sick (but he was miserable for weeks after).
I found it hilarious as so many people were "so jealous" before we went but so many on return said they would never go again!

FuriousRox Wed 06-Mar-13 08:59:33

Drive the west coast of north America in a camper van! No contest. Vancouver to San Diego. Your dds would love it. We drove Harvey the RV from San fran to Yosemite to LA a few years ago and loved it.

FuriousRox Wed 06-Mar-13 09:05:51

Or go by train from Beijing to hong kong with all sorts of detours.

Or Berlin to Beijing by train, if you really really love trains!

Or of course the adventure that is clapham junction to Waterloo - ooh the stories I could tell!

Ok I'll stop now I think.

HappyJoyful Wed 06-Mar-13 09:15:50

Ask the teenagers!!

My parents took me and my two younger sisters on a 'holiday of a lifetime' across America - I was an ungrateful, moody cow of a teenager and found a lot of it 'traumatic'. Embarrassed to admit, I think it was the concept of being on a tight budget and sharing rooms at times was hard. Camping is fun, if they like that sort of thing, but as I say, I'd certainly get their input.

Nancy66 Wed 06-Mar-13 09:30:17

Not India if it's a stress free time you're after. the constant hassling really starts to get to you and, depending on where you go, it's hot, noisy, crowded, smelly and dirty. You'd have to be somewhere really remote to avoid all that.

TaggieCampbellBlack Wed 06-Mar-13 09:53:37

Or train across America?

My geography is sketchy at best. I think I need a map.

I don't think DH woul come. He likes trains but doesn't do roughing it.

Tee2072 Wed 06-Mar-13 10:38:05

I don't know if you can train across America any more. Amtrak, the major cross country train service, has cut a lot due to no one using it. And what there is, is very expensive.

Amtrak Website

ophelia275 Wed 06-Mar-13 10:43:14

Drive across America!!!

That would be my absolute dream holiday.

TaggieCampbellBlack Wed 06-Mar-13 11:10:33

I don't think I can be arsed to drive myself. I'd miss gazing at the scenery. Which is why i thought train.

I'm veering towards Europe. Maybe north, like holland, sweden, um.... Denmark? Germany?

Lueji Wed 06-Mar-13 11:16:58

If I won the lottery, I definitely wouldn't camp or go to cheap hotels. wink

I wouldn't recommend driving across Africa.
And India...

More seriously, I prefer driving because I can more easily get quickly to more difficult to reach spots. I love going through back roads along small villages, stopping at beauty spots, etc.

Chopchopbusybusy Wed 06-Mar-13 11:34:53

We drove from Texas to the west coast and back again in a loop. New Mexico, Las Vegas, Death Valley, monument valley, lake Powell, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, San Francisco. Los Angeles. Palm Springs. We stayed in hotels and motels of various prices. We loved it and I'd go again.
It does depend on the teens though. We did our trip pre children. I'm not sure mine would be happy with the amount of time we spent in the car. I know DD2 would hate Europe by train or any camping. DD1 is quite happy lugging around a rucksack and sleeping in a tent.

mathanxiety Thu 07-Mar-13 04:27:36

My dream is doing a loop all around the Baltic, probably beginning and ending in Belgium (more North Sea and then Baltic therefore, but who's counting). I would end up seeing Netherlands and Denmark twice but I can't see a downside to that.

monsterchild Thu 07-Mar-13 04:44:44

I've done both, both have good and bad can still take Amtrak around the us, they even have an auto train where you're car comes with you!
Id ask the teens because they could make itmiserable
And holly there's lots of history and culture in north America it just isn't all based on European history and culture!

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