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1 | Getting There | by TRAIN

Travel by Train - books

  • Travel by train in America: Few Americans have had the chance to experience the fun and adventure of riding a train since the rail network in our country is so much more limited than that of Europe. As a youth I did have the chance to experience the romance of a rail excursion from Chicago to San Francisco on the California Zephyr. There is no better way to see the beauty of your surroundings than on a train (unless, of course, you are hiking the mountains you are passing through). Sure, a car is an acceptable second best, but nothing beats being able to ignore traffic, steep embankments and trees as well as being able to leave your seat at any time to walk to the dining car or bathroom for a break. Need a nap? Well, if you have roomette sleeper accommodations, taking that nap in bed listening to the clickety-clack of the rails is also possible. Amazingly, this trip is still possible.

Train Travel in the U.S. (books)

Train Travel in Canada (books)

  • Travel by train in Europe is far simpler than in the States since the network is not only much more extensive but you can more easily reach your destination hotel from the train station on foot, by subway or streetcar, or taxi. Sadly, that is not the case in most American cities served by rail due to the general lack of mass transit or stations not located in areas where you would like to stay. Don't just automatically arrange for air transportation from your gateway city in Europe to your ultimate destination without checking out Europe by rail. There are high speed trains to whisk you to your destination in comfort, with a lot of interesting sights to see along the way.

Train Travel in Europe (books)

Train Travel in Africa (books)

  • Travel U Plan / Local Train in Orvieto, Italy (c) 2007 Ted Grellner

  • You can arrange for tickets here before leaving as long as you start well enough in advance to allow for processing and shipping of the tickets to the States. The Eurail pass, a less expensive way to make multiple train trips, is available to overseas visitors in a variety of “flavors” to meet your travel needs, be it unlimited travel in 18 countries, 3-5 countries, regionally or single country but MUST be purchased before you leave. It is NOT available in Europe. If your best bet is to purchase a Eurail pass, and you decide to make train reservations prior to leaving the States, each of these steps requires a day or so to accomplish. The system has not yet gone to printing your documents over the internet like Ticketmaster so plan accordingly. Don’t wait until 3 days before leaving the States! Reservations/tickets for your specific trips can be arranged after arrival in Europe, if you wish, and generally without a problem. The advantage for having reserved seats in advance comes when you are on a tight schedule and don’t want to risk non-availability on busier routes nor having to spend time making these secondary arrangements at the train station or travel agency in Europe. Also, reserved seats, if your group wishes to sit together, must be arranged in advance; otherwise, non-reserved seating is open seating when you board the train.


  • Other Eurail tips according to eHow: 
    • Read applicable restrictions with the pass you plan to purchase. Some Eurail options require a certain number of consecutive days of travel within a 2-month period while other options allow for non consecutive use within two months
    • If you will be traveling with a group, there are 2-person and group discounts available (must travel together)
    • Youth passes (<26yrs) are available at a discount but are for 2nd class travel only (is still very acceptable).  Adults (>26 yrs) must buy a first class railpass. If you wish your kids to travel in the same rail car as you, then you must purchase a first class pass for your children.


  • Point-to-Point tickets - If your itinerary is such that a Eurail pass will not save you money or is not flexible enough for you, point to point tickets can be purchased either in advance or in Europe at the station or travel agency. If in advance, allow sufficient time for them to be delivered to you in the States.

European Rail Travel should be in everyone's travel plan / Italian High Speed Train (c) 2007 Ted Grellner

  • Packing Light - Also be mindful of packing light since you will need to move your own bags on and off the train and between platforms should you need to change trains. It is difficult if you have overburdened yourself, as many Americans are used to doing. The Europeans generally can i.d. an American by how much they are trying to carry. Watch and learn from them and don’t try to bring it all with you. Most trains require that you place your bags on a rack above you, though some Italian trains, thankfully, have space next to the entry way for big bags, but don’t necessarily plan on this. Think LIGHT WEIGHT with everything you pack.
  • Look for more helpful hints regarding packing, etc. in the luggage section.

U.S. Rail

TSA - Transportation Security Administration:

Prohibited Items in the U.S.


next page: GETTING THERE by BUS 


2 | WHERE TO STAY (lodging)