traveling by trains vs. planes in europe with allergies

Travel Plane vs. Train in Europe With Food Allergies

When traveling through Europe, there are various options for transportation, such as train rides through beautiful landscapes and quick plane rides between iconic cities. However, you may wonder if you should travel plane vs. train in Europe with food allergies. This decision can be overwhelming, especially with the considerations you must take into account beyond just speed, convenience, and cost. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of each mode of transportation so you can feel confident making travel decisions on your European adventure. 

 

Trains vs. Planes in Europe

When traveling in Europe, there’s often a big push to take trains in between destinations. However, choosing trains vs. planes totally depends on where you are going, what country you’re visiting, and other factors. It’s also important to consider your food allergies when making your decision and if one mode of transportation is better than the other. 

Typically, the answer of whether to travel plane vs. train in Europe with food allergies is fairly straightforward based on the distance you’re going to travel. Sometimes, you are presented with both options or you simply want to consider the pros and cons of planes vs. trains with food allergies.

Traveler handing tickets when traveling by plane in europe.

Planes

When traveling between European destinations, it may seem like flying via plane is the most time-efficient option. However, after all of the time dedicated to checking your luggage, going through security, arriving early to your gate, and waiting (not to mention potential delays), oftentimes, it will take just as much time or longer than taking the train. 

For food allergy travelers, one of the most significant downsides to flying is the fact that there are restrictions on both food and liquids on the plane. While this can vary depending on the country, it is definitely more difficult to travel with your own food and drink or groceries than on a train. 

Flights do typically allow you time to pre-board and wipe down seats and surfaces, so that is a positive to traveling via plane. Carrying a doctor’s letter describing your allergies, needs, and safety precautions can be incredibly helpful and speed up the process. 

When flying, I recommend packing safe snacks in your checked bag. Just make sure when flying to the EU from another country with food in your checked bag, you check the rules and regulations on importing foods. For most EU countries, you are allowed to bring in packaged, non-perishable snacks and food items, fruits and vegetables (that are free of pests), and most baked goods, candy, and chocolate (that are free of meat or dairy products). 

 

Trains

Traveling by train in Europe is a wonderful way to soak up the sights of the countryside along your journey and explore those off-the-beaten path destinations that you may otherwise not see or be able to get to by other modes of transportation. 

For food allergy travelers, it’s a definite plus that the regulations around bringing your own food and liquids on trains is more relaxed than that of plane travel. You have the flexibility to bring your own groceries and essential items to accommodate your allergies and medical needs, that may be harder to find in the destinations you’ll be visiting. This allows you to feel more at ease knowing you’re prepared and can enjoy exploring on a deeper level. 

Keep in mind that if you are crossing borders, such as on the EuroStar from London to Paris, you will proceed through security. While the EuroStar itself allows you to bring your own food and liquids on European and London routes, it’s important to look at the guidelines of entry to Paris in relation to any food or items brought in. Per the EU importation guidelines, you cannot bring in meat products, live animals or animal products, certain fish and seafood items, unpasteurized dairy products, or products with GMOs. 

ItaliaRail is also very flexible in allowing train passengers to bring their own food and liquids on board. While there are snacks, drinks, and light meal options available on the train, the options for people with dietary restrictions is very limited and they are not equipped or trained to accommodate food allergy needs. I highly recommend not risking this and always bringing your own food and drink on the train. 

Inter-country trains like Spain, France, Portugal, and most of the EU will follow similar guidelines to ItaliaRail regarding food availability and flexibility for bringing your own items. 

When you start crossing borders, that’s where you may find limitations that you need to double-check. 

However, if you’re taking the train from Rome to Florence, you can stock up on groceries in Rome to take with you to Florence without having to throw away items like you may have to on a flight due to security. 

 Electric red tourist train in europe overlooking in Switzerland,Europe.

Considerations for Plane vs. Train in Europe

Now that you know more about traveling via plane and train in Europe, the question is, which mode of transportation is right for you? 

When considering whether to travel plane vs. train in Europe with food allergies, consider these key factors: 

 

Distance and Time

Evaluate the distance of your journey and if it will take a whole day from your trip just to travel by train vs. plane. Does the travel time saved by flying outweigh the hassle of navigating security and food restrictions? Do you need to maximize your travel time? Is seeing the countryside and taking the train part of your desired European experience?

 

Flexibility and Comfort

Trains don’t require a ton of lines or waiting around and are generally more flexible, comfortable, and spacious in their seating compared to planes. There are typically fewer lines and waiting times at train stations, making for a smoother travel experience.

 

Luggage and Food Restrictions

While planes have strict limitations on luggage and food and drink items brought on, trains do not have these luggage restrictions and do allow more food and drinks on board. This allows food allergy travelers to bring the snacks, groceries, drinks, and medications they need on board easily. 

 

Location and Price

Train stations are more centrally located, typically in the downtown area of a city. They are also more accommodating and cheaper for child passengers. The cost for adults can be cheaper than airfare, but not always. It depends on the trip distance and location. 

 

Ultimately, the choice to travel plane vs. train in Europe with food allergies depends on your individual needs, preferences, and comfort level, along with the goal of your trip and how fast you need to get between locations. Both planes and trains have advantages and considerations to keep in mind. 

 

If you do choose to travel via plane, check out my blog posts about how to prepare for a flight with food allergies and what to eat when flying with food allergies

 

If you’re looking for personalized support in planning your European getaway and navigating travel plans, including transportation, accommodations, adventures, and meals, visit my contact page to learn more about my full-service travel planning and how I can help you enjoy your trip! 

 

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