Europe is quite a bit different than America in many ways, and one of the big ones is in how people get around. While riding a train might seem like a novelty in the U.S., it’s one of the top ways people travel within their own country, and also from country-to-country in Europe.
Rail rides are convenient, cost-effective, and they make a great travel option because it gives you a unique chance to view scenery during your trip.
However, if you’re new to train travel, it can be intimidating at first, so below are must-know tips to make it a less anxiety-producing experience.
Consider a Eurail Pass
If you’re going to be traveling to multiple destinations on your trip, you’re often going to benefit the most from purchasing a Eurail pass. This pass can be purchased ahead of time through sites like GoEuro, and it provides you with affordability and flexibility. The Eurail Global Pass lets you explore up to 28 countries in Europe by train, and you can select between first or second class seats. This is the most highly recommended train ticket for anyone who plans on doing quite a bit of traveling within Europe.
Book In Advance
Try not to wait until the last minute to book any train tickets, whether you’re going throughout several countries or just point-to-point. Often the sooner you book, and the further out from your trip you are, the better the prices you’re going to get.
While you might not want to spend the extra money on a first class ticket, something worth spending more on is a seat reservation. If you don’t reserve a seat, you’re not guaranteed a spot and you might not find one in the area you like. For example, if you reserve a seat ahead of time you can pick a window so you can maximize the views on your journey. If you do happen to find an empty seat, you might have to give it up at another stop if someone gets on who’s already claimed it as a reservation.
Familiarize Yourself with the Train Layout
Train travel can be a bit confusing for people who haven’t done it before, particularly when everything is in a foreign language. To make it easier, learn about the seating and platforms of the trains you’ll be taking. This is offered in a map at most stations, and it will show you the best place to stand for the specific seat you’ve reserved. That way, you don’t have to walk through the train searching for your spot.
Don’t Count On a Huge Selection of Food
Trains in Europe can vary quite a bit in the availability of food and refreshments they offer. Some may have a full dining car while on others there might just be a few snacks to purchase. Regardless, food on trains tend to be pricey, so try to bring your own food, particularly if it’s a long trip.
Undoubtedly, most experienced travelers would agree the railways are the best way to see all of the distinctive countries that make up Europe, and with planning and tips like the ones above, you can ensure it’s all smooth travels.