Can you imagine what traveling by train in Europe is like? Although it might be challenging to plan a vacation to Europe, your transportation should be the least of your worries. That’s why most Europeans prefer to travel between countries by train. Read on to find out how to travel Europe by train without getting a headache.
Go the distance
First of all, one of the best resources for train travel in Europe is The Man in Seat 61’s website. Not only does it have a comprehensive guide to traveling through Europe, Ireland, and the U.K. by train, but it also provides international train travel schedules. That means that it’s easier to ever to plan your next train trip.
Why do Europeans enjoy taking the train so much? While most airports tend to be far away from the town that you’re traveling to, train stations usually drop you off in the heart of the city. Also, a lot of European cities only have one airport, so it’s not exactly easy to find public transportation that’ll take you to where you’re going. Plus, there are so many hidden fees associated with air travel, such as paying extra for overweight bags.
When you travel to Europe by train, you get to skip all of the extra security limits and time constraints that most airports have. Not to mention the exorbitant prices charged by most Europeans airlines, who often practice bait-and-switch tactics to get customers to book flights. However, train tickets are typically set at a specific price. In fact, train stations also offer more affordable tickets if you book them far enough in advance.
Now: you’ll probably want to pick up a travel transport card for Europe train travel. Surprisingly, a local transport card can even help you to get discounts at major tourist attractions, saving you money in the process. The best part? You might not need to purchase an individual card for each family member. Bonus points!
Plan it out
You might be wondering: how do I plan a train trip through Europe? While it depends on how long you’re staying and where you’re going, it might be smart to purchase a Eurail pass. Nonetheless, you can buy train tickets directly at the station as well. Of course, you have to figure out which European countries you’ll be venturing to before you book your train travel. This will help you to decide what Eurail pass you’ll need for your stay.
Once you’ve determined which countries you’ll be visiting, it’s time to make a solid itinerary. That includes everything from choosing how long you’ll stay in each place to where you’ll be sleeping every night. When you know your itinerary ahead of your trip, you’ll be able to make sure that you choose the right train ticket. But there’s a catch.
Picking out the perfect rail pass can be a little bit of a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several different kinds of European rail passes to choose from: global passes, flexible passes, regional passes, and single-country passes. While global passes allow you to travel freely throughout 21 locations, flexible passes will only let you travel through up to five countries. For shorter trips, there are regional passes and single-country passes.
Pro tip? If you’re under 26 years old, then you can purchase a youth pass to cut the cost of your ticket. Also, traveling with a friend can save you a ton of money if you purchase the saver pass. Once you’ve decided which Eurail pass to buy, you’ve got to find a timetable. As the holy grail of train travel, timetables give you all of the most crucial information about when you’re train is leaving and when it’s arriving for most cities.
Enjoy the ride
When you arrive in Europe for your train trip, make sure you get to the station early. That way, you’ll have extra time to find out where your train is departing from. Plus, you can grab a snack or a newspaper before you hop aboard. And it’s important to know which countries take their train travel more seriously, and which countries don’t. For example, places like Germany and Switzerland have much more efficient train schedules than Italy does.
Before you board your train, it’s essential to bring the right carry-on items to maximize your comfort during your journey. That’s why you’ll want to bring your own food and water aboard. The best travel snacks are sandwiches, fruit, and nuts and raisins. And if you’re planning to take a nap, don’t forget to bring a blanket and pillows too. Additionally, toiletries, make up, and shaving kits may make your transition to European life much easier when it’s time to get off of the train. For entertainment purposes, you should pack things like novels, cards, and magazines, or board games for the kids.
After you’ve boarded the train, you have to make sure that you sit in the right seat. If you decide to book a Eurail pass, then you can choose between a first-class or second-class seat assignment. But if you choose to buy an individual train ticket, your seat will automatically be assigned to you. Just remember to book an overnight reservation first. The rest is painless: write down your travel date on your Eurail pass and hand it over to the train conductor. Then, you’re good to go!