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)
- 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
- 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.
TSA - Transportation Security Administration:
Prohibited Items in the U.S.
next page: GETTING
THERE by BUS
2 | WHERE TO STAY (lodging)