I’ve been eager to write about this for a while. These are my favorite kind of train journeys (sorry, Japan). For the beginners and a few tourists who want to make the most out of their visit, I’ve prepared a few handy tips for train traveling across Europe. Enjoy!
First thing’s first – how should you pack for your trip? While it is important to prepare for different kinds of weather, I would recommend packing light. That way, you are covered if you want to sleep in a hostel, have a few drinks at a bar, or explore many fine cities in Europe on foot. However, that’s not the main reason.
While they may be trains where you can check your luggage, it is much safer and less confusing for you to have your bag labeled with your information in front of you or beside you at all times. I can’t tell you how many times I was glad that I had my bag with me, while at the same time my friends were ticked off about having to pay constant attention to their multiple unlabeled bags.
Trains in Europe are much more reliable time-wise when compare to their cousins overseas. Generally speaking, 9 times out of 10 the train is going to be on time. That means that you, too, have to be organized in order not to miss your ride.
This rule, however, usually applies to international trains, as well as trains within certain countries, like Germany. If you are really unlucky, you might end up somewhere with unbelievable train delays.
Prices may fluctuate between the capital cities and distant towns when it comes to accommodation and food, so you should be prepared for that. Your best bet would be to do some research on specific countries you are planning to visit.
Youth hostels are, usually, the most affordable form of accommodation. Avoid booking downtown unless you need to catch the train quickly or have no time to spare to see the sights. They are much more expensive than their suburban counterparts.
People in Europe, for the most part, are very accommodating and understanding towards foreigners. Most speak English and will be willing to point you in the right direction. Some might even recommend a few sights and a good restaurant or two.
Consider rail passes and don’t forget to validate your tickets. There are cases where people are genuinely confused about getting fined for not having a ticket while they are holding them in their hands. Rail passes save you a lot of money and hassle, but only for certain trips and regions.
Grand European Tour – Should You Take It?
If you can afford it, one of the ways to enjoy your exploration of Europe is to take the Grand European Tour. It’s an adventure that lasts 11 days and it is more focused on your destinations rather than your journey. With this tour, you may be able to see Berlin, Paris, Rome, Venice, Geneva, and Amsterdam. It is a first-class trip that involves staying at hotels, walking around cities, and potentially visiting museums.
Here’s why I personally would not take this trip, which isn’t to say that it is not amazing. First of all, it’s more about using a train as a tool, rather than a part of your journey you should experience. Secondly, the expensive ticket and high-class accommodation will prevent you from truly getting to know the place you are visiting. Not to mention that you would be foregoing other cities and towns. Still, this is just a personal preference and some people prefer traveling in the first-class style.