When I travel I prefer not to drive if I can avoid it. I don’t find anything relaxing about driving, especially in countries where I can’t understand road signs. Whenever I can, I take the train.
Traveling by train in Europe and the UK is fast, comfortable and affordable. I have lived in Europe for over 10 years, but I have been a tourist visiting European destinations for decades. I started taking the train for the novelty. However, I quickly discovered that unlike Canada and the US, trains in Europe serve virtually every city, town, and village, are inexpensive, and operate on hours that no North American mode of transportation can handle. My conversion into a fanatic train passenger came about because traveling by train allowed me to relax, see the sights, meet other passengers, and disembark whenever and wherever I wanted. Many times my travel companions told me about interesting architectures, monuments, attractions or events that I decided on in that moment and in that moment. I left the train, spent time at whatever destination they recommended, and when I finished, I boarded another train to resume my travels. Some of my most memorable travel experiences were the result of those spontaneous stops. Of course when I travel I make sure that no one else is dictating where I will visit, when I will or where I will stay while there. In all my years of traveling, I did a combo tour. He went to Rome, and I had to leave long before I wanted to.
Why do I take the train to tour Europe?
Train travel is convenient throughout Europe, with metro and buses picking up or dropping off passengers by train. Also, most international airports are served by trains, so you can start your train journey immediately upon arrival.
Traveling by train in Europe is ideal for both personal and business trips. Many times I have been on my way to a conference, convention, trade show, or meeting and have used my time aboard the train to review documents, review a presentation, or review agendas. When traveling as a member of a team, rail transport provides the perfect environment for holding panel discussions or brainstorming sessions. Plus, when it comes to getting leads in a controlled environment, nothing beats a compartment on a train. I once represented a company at a trade show in Essen, Germany, and had the opportunity to travel with some of the local distributors who would be occupying the booth at the trade show. By the time we got to Essen, I had helped a distributor with a $ 42,000 sale that we closed while we were en route, and I managed to facilitate an inventory swap between two others so that each would end up with a product more suited to their markets. . Nowhere else, save perhaps on a golf course, can someone have a captured audience of business colleagues than aboard a commuter train.
Booking train travel couldn’t be easier now, thanks to the internet. Virtually all European railways have an online presence that offers scheduling, travel coordination, and ticket purchases. No matter that all you need to do is book a ticket from point A to B yourself or arrange ticket sales and seat reservations for a group sightseeing tour, you can do it quickly and easily online.
Many ticket-buying websites allow you to book airline tickets, car rentals, train travel, and hotel accommodations all at once. A well-planned trip can be especially important for group travel or corporate travel. There are even discounts on train fares for groups of more than ten people.
Eurostar, officially called Eurostar International Limited, or EIL, is a high-speed rail service that connects London with Paris and Brussels, crossing the Channel Tunnel that connects the United Kingdom and France. The service is operated by 18-coach trains traveling at 300 kilometers per hour on a network of high-speed rail lines. The Eurostar rail service offers quick registration for short journeys between London and Paris or Brussels and allows you to travel comfortably at high speed between the UK and the European continent.
Eurail, officially Eurail Group GIE, but often called Eurorail, is a Netherlands-based company registered in Luxembourg and owned by a group of European rail and shipping companies. The company sells passes and tickets for European railways. The company offers two main products, the Eurail Pass, formerly “Europass”, but informally called the “Eurorail Pass”, and the InterRail Pass. However, InterRail passes are only available to European residents.
Eurail passes available to non-European residents allow travel through two, up to five, neighboring countries. Discounted passes are available for groups of up to five people traveling together or for under 26s. Passes that provide unlimited travel over a fixed period and passes that provide a fixed number of travel days over a longer period are also available.
Train travelers, even those using Eurostar and Eurail, can disembark and then board the trains to continue their journey. It is advisable to plan important stops so that seat reservations can be coordinated, especially if each leg of a trip is long. However, if you don’t mind taking a chance by reserving seats just before boarding and perhaps having to wait a bit for a vacancy, visiting dozens of cities while en route is entirely possible.
The only downside to constantly getting on and off trains is that departing passengers must carry their luggage with them. I prefer to travel light, carrying only one or two pieces of luggage. This way if I choose to stop I can easily do it because I will likely find a luggage locker available.
Most train stations in major urban centers have large lockers for luggage storage or secure luggage storage facilities. However, smaller stations tend to have few storage lockers and never have manned luggage storage facilities. Being able to conveniently store luggage and then collect it just before departure makes stopping somewhere for a few hours of sightseeing simple, so the fewer bags that need to be stored, the better.
This traveler quickly learned to take advantage of rail freight when traveling long distances with more than just a small backpack or shoulder bag. I carry necessities with me in something not much larger than a school backpack and send larger pieces of luggage as cargo to be picked up at my destination. Cargo items are safely stored and the storage cost per day is much less than it would be to put coins in storage lockers or pay to store them in staffed facilities.
I once traveled from Amsterdam to Rome, which I stretched into three weeks of travel. I didn’t count the number of times I got on and off trains before reaching my destination, but it was always at least twice a day and often three times. In fact, all I did was take night trains to continue my journey while I slept and use the facilities on board to wash myself every morning. Then I would jump to breakfast at the first stop which seemed interesting.
Train travel in Europe is ideal for short trips, as well as longer trips lasting several days. Sleeper cars are available on many train routes, allowing for a good night’s sleep. Long-distance train services in Europe generally offer first-class services that include more comfortable seats, tables, in-car meal service, and other amenities.
Actually traveling by train is more convenient than traveling by plane when traveling in Europe. Check-in times to board trains that then travel at high speeds between European city centers will often result in a shorter journey than by plane. Traveling by plane requires driving to airports, where travelers must queue to buy tickets, collect boarding passes, and go through security checks. Then, once at your destination, it takes more time to collect luggage, go through customs and immigration, and then usually travel by car, bus, taxi or train to the city center. Also, trains in Europe are rarely delayed, much less canceled. Air travel in Europe is much more reliable than anywhere else, but it is not as reliable as trains.
Typically, train passengers are allowed three pieces of luggage, two larger pieces, and one smaller piece of carry-on luggage. Excess baggage can be transported for an additional cost, as can some larger items. Registration for train travelers is generally quick and generally takes less than 30 minutes. Online ticket booking and seat reservation, when available, can further reduce check-in times.
All in all, taking the train to tour Europe is the way to go because no other transportation option compares to the comfort, convenience and versatility of traveling by train.