Survey finds the world’s lowest, highest travel costs

By Bob Schulman

Travelers in Spain zip around on high-speed trains. Photo: Bob Schulman.We’ve all heard how cheap it is to travel by train, bus and air in other countries – but just how cheap is it? Which countries have the lowest transportation costs? And which ones are for big spenders only?

The answers come from a survey of 51 countries across the globe by the travel experts at GoEuro (www.goeuro.com), a Berlin-based travel search website.

Called the Global Transportation Price Index, the survey compiled data on things like distance of travel between key cities within a country, schedules, taxes and fares. Countries were then rated according to the average cost of traveling 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) for each transportation type.

Note: All travel costs are shown in equivalent U.S. dollars.

Despite all that’s said about cheaper labor and more efficient travel systems overseas, the cost of travel in the U.S. came in roughly mid-way on the list of 51 countries. On average, our bus journeys cost $7.92 per 100 km, train rides cost $18.61/100 km and flights carry an average tab of $10.36/100 km.

Our prices look like a real bargain when you look at travel costs in Switzerland (the most expensive place to travel in the survey), where bus journeys cost $18.67, train rides will set you back $38.28 and flights cost a whopping $125.07 (all three modes per 100 km).

Runners up to Switzerland at the high end are (in descending order of travel prices) Austria, Belgium, Israel, and Denmark.

It’s a lot easier on your wallet to travel in South Africa (the study’s least expensive country), where a bus ride costs $3.67, train journeys cost a measly $1.88 and flights cost $11.63 – again, all for 100 km of travel. 

Coming in just above South Africa on the cheapie end are (in ascending order) Albania, a tie between Malaysia and Thailand, and Ukraine.

Islands dotting French Polynesia are right off the travel posters. Photo: Tahiti Tourisme.Ratings by train, plane and bus tabs

The survey also came up with these numbers for individual travel modes per 100 km:

- For train travel, the cheapest countries are South Africa ($1.88), Georgia ($2.39) and Egypt ($2.49), while the most expensive are Denmark ($39.84), Switzerland ($38.28) and Austria ($32.16).

- For bus travel, you’ll find the best bargains in Egypt ($1.88), Ukraine ($3.07) and Thailand ($3.11). At the top end are the Netherlands ($28.58), Austria ($23.45) and Norway ($21.61).

- The cheapest countries for air travel are India ($10.36), Malaysia ($11.43) and South Africa ($11.63). But be prepared to shell out a bundle in Finland – the top dog in the survey at (drum roll) $138.90. Runners up at the high end are Switzerland ($125.07) and Lithuania ($116.72). 

South of the border, Mexico came in as the 6th cheapest country for bus travel ($4.38) and 14th lowest ($20.35) for air travel. (The country has no train service to speak of.)

Up north, Canada was a mixed bag. It was the 16th cheapest country for bus travel ($6.20) but the 38th highest for train trips ($20.88). A hop between big cities on an intra-Canada flight, however, averaged $31.78 – just about mid-way on the index.

For more details on GoEuro’s survey check out the full report at www.goeuro.com/transportation-price-index.

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