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Five Tips For European Train Travel

This is a guest post by Eloise Shutt

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Ciccio Pizzettaro

One of the most unique aspects of travelling to Europe is the ease in which a traveller can get around the continent. Yes, there are intercontinental flights available and sure, you can take the Chunnel from London to Paris, but there is nothing quite like seeing the European countryside on the an excellent rail system. Taking the train is a wonderful way to get from country to country without missing out on all of the scenery that Europe has to offer. The following are five tips any traveller can use when taking the train system throughout their European vacation.

Plan Your European Trip by Train

Start by planning your trip ahead of time, and decide on the European destinations you wish to visit. Europe is unique in that you can purchase either a Eurail pass or individual tickets. Knowing which destinations you are heading to and how long you plan to stay at each stop will help you determine which option is better for you and your budget. Purchasing individual tickets can be cheaper, and allows you to make the most of your time while in Europe.

Keep Your Personal Items Secure

Even before booking your trip, keep protection in mind when packing your belongings. You’ll want to be mindful of identity theft once you get on the train, especially if you are travelling overnight. Keep your backpack and personal belongings near you, as theft and pick pocketing can be an issue. For better protection, you may want to consider investing in identity theft services such as Life Lock.com or other trusted companies. This will keep your personal identification information as well as your financial information safe so you do not have to worry about it while you travel abroad.

Research How Each Country’s Railway System Operates

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Simon Pielow

Remember that as you travel through Europe, each station will be different and each country has a different rail system. USA Today states that some European countries are known to have very efficient systems, such as Germany and Switzerland. It also helps to know about items like a “Bahncard” which will give you discounts in tickets over a one year period while traveling via rail in Germany. It would also help to know what the “Speisewagen” (or dining car) is so you can grab a bite while waiting for your destination. However, there are other countries that are not as efficient, such as Italy. You will want to do a bit of research on each country you visit and find out some of the best tips for maneuvering through the rail system in those specific regions.

Book Online

It’s a good idea to book your tickets through the European railway’s websites, instead of through an American agency that sells Eurail tickets. The Eurail ticket might seem easy and convenient, but it’s also expensive. Often times, there are cheaper rates for the exact same ticket on the actual railway company website.

When travelling the rail system in Europe, you will notice that you usually get the choice of first class or second class trains. Rick Steves, a famous European travel guide and TV host, explains that passengers should choose second class trains when the option is available to them. While first class trains are more luxurious, second class cars are equally safe and convenient, and are still comfortable for those on board. This will save you a considerable amount of money when travelling through Europe, allowing you to enjoy more sightseeing and dining on your trip across the continent.

Travelling through Europe by train is one of the most unique experiences a traveller can have. It allows you to move easily, quickly and efficiently from country to country while still taking time to relax and enjoy the scenery as you travel through one of history’s most interesting continent. Within a matter of hours you can go from Spain to Italy, and a few days later hop a train to Germany. There is nothing quite like it, and using these tips you can easily make the most of your European vacation.

Image obtained from Flickr.com under Creative Commons (c) Simon Pielow

About our guest author:

Eloise spends a lot of time travelling, mostly to Western Europe. She writes about her adventures and anything to do with travelling.