Tired of Interrailing? Ditch the train and try three emerging ways to explore Europe on the cheap
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For one reason or another, Britain is obsessed with Europe. Even the Brexit campaign could not deny that the continent is our hottest tourist destination, making up 80%of British holidays abroad at the annual cost of £16 billion. We hate Europe but, actually, we love it. Perhaps the last relic of the ‘Eurotopia’ envisaged in the 1970s, Interrailing has long been a rite of passage for students. The principle – freedom to discover cities from Dublin to Dubrovnik without consuming your maintenance loan – has only widened in appeal. Yet, the concept lags behind the digital age so crudely, reliant on paper passes and meticulous planning, that it may as well use steam trains. Trends are shifting, however, and there is a whole listicle’s worth of services to help you backpack across Europe without wasting half of your holiday hanging around on train platforms and, more excruciatingly, queuing for tickets. Here are three ways of taking back control that we can get behind. Plane: Norwegian Airlines If ever you wanted evidence of a shrinking world, the best airline in Britain is now Norwegian. The low-cost carrier is also making it possible, offering cheap and comfortable flights from the UK to 106 destinations, including 15 student hotspots such as Barcelona, Berlin and Budapest for under £40. All summer long, Norwegian has been my gateway to Spain. For the easiest access to coastal treats like Marbella, Benidorm and Valencia, or cultural centres in Seville, Córdoba and Granada, no established British airline can compete with its two-and-a-half-hour routes to Málaga and Alicante. Beyond the great destinations, Norwegian showed me what truly to expect from low-cost air travel in the 21st Century. There is no messing about at the airport, either, thanks to the Norwegian app, which looks after your boarding passes and notifies you of flight information and gate details. On the plane, the native flight attendants were so helpful that I lasted the whole holiday without TripAdvisor and so bursting with banter that Steve from Clacton-on-Sea would have been ashamed.
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