Commercial aviation, especially for passengers, has reached a point in Europe far ahead of the United States. It is about as safe as railway travel there, and not much more expensive than first-class rail service. Half a dozen or more passenger planes of the Imperial Airways, Ltd. cross from London to Paris and vice versa daily. Cost about $30; time, two and one-half hours; danger, slight; chances of seasickness greatly reduced. The price includes automobile conveyance to and from almost any-where in the two cities. Only hand baggage taken, but heavier luggage will be forwarded at cost by the company.
London and Paris are connected by air with Brussels, Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Germany, Switzerland, and even beyond, and this service is constantly increasing and improving, with a tendency to lower fares.
In foreign lands outside Europe, air service, especially service on regular schedules, is much more rare. Those who wish to reach the isolated capital of Colombia may spare themselves the tedious steamer up the Magdalena River, but at a cost of about $250 for a single day’s flight.
Flying saves time; it gives beautiful bird’s-eye views under proper weather conditions; it is an experience to have at least once and be able to tell about at home. But it is one of the poorest ways of “doing” a country in the sense in which the average tourist wishes to “do” it.
TAKING YOUR OWN CAR ABROAD is still rather a complicated and costly process, in spite of much propaganda in its favor. Except on certain ships, the car must be crated, in itself no slight expense. The freight over and back is about equal to a minimum first-class passage one way, and the charges for all manner of things on the other side, though individually modest, sum up to a considerable amount. Practically the value of the car must be deposited or guaranteed for foreign customs duties, though most of this will be returned when the car leaves the country. Someone of statistical turn of mind has found that the cost of taking a car of 125 inch wheel-base to Great Britain and back ranges around $450 and about $100 additional if taken on to France and the Rhine countries. This is without counting cost of gasoline (known abroad as “petrol”) which averages from 50 per cent more than United States prices in England to double in even the more accessible continental countries. Still, it costs motley to run a car at home, and there is a great pleasure arid satisfaction in driving your own car abroad.
The TRIPTYQUE is the principal (though by no means the only) document involved in international motoring. It may be secured through almost any foreign motor touring club, after one has paid the fees requisite to becoming a member, and a smaller fee for this specific service. The amount of the duty on the car for each country it is to enter must be deposited or guaranteed. For a dash across Europe, with a frontier every hour or two, this is in itself an item. Regulation plates, driver’s license, laissez-passers and various other matters require time and patience.
RENTING A CAR. ABROAD is a simple matter, though the question of cost still looms large to the rank and file tourist. Still, five or more persons, planning to travel first or perhaps even second class on the railroads, may cover as much ground more pleasantly by hiring a car. The chauffeur must of course be hired with it, and fully as much care should be given to his selection as to that of the car. The better hotels and the more reliable local garages, if the tourist is capable of judging well in this latter case, may be trusted in both these matters. Most trips, long or short, are subject to bargaining, however, and in only a few cities is it wise to trust to luck and human nature that the price will be “right.” Automobiles of all types,, from decrepit Ford exiles to excellent foreign cars of the Cadillac standard, are available in most large cities of western Europe. In England a car of this type, with competent chauffeur who will take care of his own expenses and those of his car en route, may be hired for long or short journeys at a cost of about 30 cents a mile. In almost all continental countries the cost will probably be no higher, but the drivers more inclined to temperament. Norway has mostly excellent seven-passenger cars for such service. When motoring abroad at least six persons should travel together if not more than their first-class fares is to be spent.
Arrangements for renting a car abroad may be made before you leave through one of several American tourist agencies. This often proves more satisfactory than doing your own bargaining after you arrive.
In South America, the Far East, and the outermost parts of the earth in general, good roads seldom reach far beyond the cities.
MOTORBUSES (called Char-a-bancs in England) are regularly operated in many parts of Europe, though not yet to the extent of such service in the United States. Between London and Brighton, etc., there are constant processions of these economical conveyances. The battle-fields of France may be similarly visited. Palestine has motorbus service, and French Indo-China maintains regular daily service between its various sections of railway along the eastern coast.