Q. This summer, my sister and I are planning to travel throughout Spain, and possibly France. We'll be making stops in Paris, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, and Marbella, staying 2 - 3 days in each city, but we're not quite sure which is the fastest, most inexpensive way to move from place to place. Any suggestions?
A. We've had luck using Whichbudget.com when planning for trips like this, for a list of which budget airlines operate between city pairs. Also, train travel is great for shuffling yourself around Europe, but it's a toss up. Train stations tend to be more centrally located than most budget carrier airports that typically require a 45 minute ride on a shuttle bus. By the time you factor in travel time to the airport, check-in, security, ect., that short flight eats up a lot of time, and -in some cases - ends up costing you as many hours as a train. We suggest checking out Renfe's English site (Red Nacional de Ferrocarriles Españoles) for info on the AVE high-speed train service in Spain. Personally, we just find the train to be a thousand times more enjoyable. Relaxing even! But that's just us.
If you're in a crunch for time, shop around on both the train and airline sites (Spanair and Ryanair might work best for your trip) and be sure to factor in commutes from the city center to the airport to see which method works best for your budget and schedule.
And trains and planes aren't the only game in town either. Bus service may slow you up a bit, but it's cheap and - like with the train - allows you to take in some scenery.