to drive or not to drive (in europe)

saanen snail

snail, Saanen, Switzerland

So one of the debates I kept having with myself during the trip was whether the rental car was worth it, or if we should have done what most normal people would have done and ridden the trains instead. The reason we originally decided on the car was a combination of enhanced freedom and lower (upfront) cost.

When we looked at Eurail passes, it would have been something like $900 for two people over the age of 26 for the countries we were thinking of visiting. The rental car was only $569, so it seemed like a no-brainer at the time. Turns out that we spent $243 on gas and another $166 on tolls (yes, the tolls in France are ridiculously expensive), so in the end ($977 total car expenditure), it was a financial wash.

Still, it was nice to have the extra freedom. Case in point, as we were driving from Nice, France to Interlaken, we happened to drive through the tiny ski towns of Saanen and Gstaad, which were beautifully idyllic and pastoral, and ended up staying a few nights, just enjoying the scenery and being away from the hustle and bustle of Nice. That never would have happened had we been on a train.

In the end, a car isn’t a bad idea for two (or more) people (just don’t drive in France). For the single traveller though, the train is an obvious no-brainer.