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To fly or not to fly?
February 19th, 2008 by john

Whether it’s from fear of flying, love of the planet or just the sheer tedium of airport people-processing, flight-free holidays are a hot topic.

So I thought it was time I researched the alternatives to flying. You can read the results in the current issue of Holiday Villas; a cut-down version has been added on this site today. Please click to view.

But what surprised me is that despite all the hype about the new, faster Eurostar trains from St Pancras, London, they really haven’t got their act together as far as family holidays are concerned.

First, on the Eurostar website you can only find out prices and book three months ahead. Which isn’t much good if you want to book your summer hols now. And prices are way more expensive than taking your own car on the ferry, especially if you need to hire a car at the other end (which you probably will, if you’re staying in a villa).

There doesn’t seem to be any quick way of researching through-routes (Birmingham-Alicante was the example I was trying, for a Costa Blanca holiday), though the Spanish rail website (www.renfe.com) works brilliantly if your Spanish is good enough.

If Eurostar really want to persuade holidaymakers away from planes and cars and onto their trains, there’s a lot more work to be done. Like making tickets bookable 6 months ahead, providing cheap family tickets (how about children travel any distance at off-peak times for €10, if with one or more parents paying full fare?) and getting a Europe-wide pricing structure together.

Until it’s as quick, cheap and easy to book a train to Milan or Malaga as it is to book a plane, Eurostar will remain the preserve of business travellers and couples off for a city break.


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