Trains, planes and delays: what we learn when travel tests us

Crowded airport
Published October 6, 2022

One of the most exciting aspects of Rome2rio is that it helps, and invites, travellers to explore alternative ways to get to their destination.  During recent travels, a few team members faced these possibilities head on. While there were some hiccups and headaches along the way, they arrived a wee bit wiser.

Are trains slower?

Recently, while on a work trip to Europe – during the peak of summer – some of our team members had to make a seemingly simple choice. Would they fly from Berlin to Amsterdam, or take the train? The current state-of-play made the choice less straightforward.

As we all know, since the lifting of COVID restrictions, airlines and airports have struggled with the rapid increase in demand. Delays, confusion and price hikes have been part of the fallout.

To go from Berlin to Amsterdam it seemed,  at face-value, that flying would be the best option. The train would take a little over 6 hours, whereas flying (including airport time) would take 2 hours less.

Even so, Yesh , our CEO, preferred a scenic route so he opted to take the train. While Niraj Bhojani, our Chief of Staff decided to fly to save himself time. Yesh found his trip to be pleasant and calm. “I faced no problems, had a great view during the journey and a relaxing time.”

Niraj couldn’t say the same. “Luckily, I didn’t have my luggage (just a carry-on), so it was relatively easy to check in and go through security. But the airport was super chaotic, with people everywhere trying to find out how to get to their plane.” His flight left around 1 hour 20 minutes late, which the pilot managed to reduce to a final 45 minutes delay.

In the end, both trips took the same time, around 6 hours and 30 minutes, but the train was a much more pleasant experience.

Can I do it all?

Stuart Thompson, our Senior Partnerships Manager, prides himself on knowing the travel market well; after all, he has worked in the sector for years. But his first post-COVID holiday didn’t go as planned. “After being locked down for a long time, my wife and I wanted to see our friends in Europe, where I lived for years. We wanted to visit several places with our two young kids, including England, Ireland, Denmark and Germany.”

Stuart decided to fly most of the trip because he was travelling to many destinations and covering a reasonable distance. The first challenge he faced was getting from London to the west side of Ireland.

After a long wait, his flight was cancelled. The options were either to wait several hours for a replacement flight or sleep in London and try to fly the following day, without any guarantee against another cancellation. “After seeing the despair in my wife’s eyes, I jumped into action. I bought flights to Dublin, which are more frequent, and arranged to pick up my rental car in Dublin instead of the Ireland West Knock airport. We thought driving for a few hours would be much better than staying at the airport. Little did I know.”

On the new flights, accommodating the family together was difficult, as the seats were initially separated. “Despite the drama, we flew to Dublin, thinking our nightmare was over. We always assumed the kids would do much better in the car than in airports or planes – they always slept in the car back home. That wasn’t the case, possibly because of the jet lag. My kids screamed at the top of their lungs for three and half hours straight, the entire trip until our final destination. It was a day to forget.”

Lessons learnt

The lessons from all these stories are something we often say at Rome2rio: plan your trip but be open to being flexible and doing things differently. Sometimes, travelling on land is better. Others, you need to choose fewer destinations to avoid stress. There is no one perfect way of travelling and, many times, the best one is the one you least expect.

Rome2rio, based in Melbourne, Australia, is organising the world’s transport information. We offer a multi-modal, door-to-door travel search engine that returns itineraries for air, train, coach, ferry, mass transit and driving options to and from any location. Discover the possibilities at rome2rio.com