How to travel by train through Europe with Eurail?
In Brazil, the train is not very common as transportation for travel, except in some cities of the south of the country, so we have a certain desire and curiosity to know how this type of trip is, and if there is a place in the world that there is a certain greed in traveling by train, this place is Europe. Can you imagine the experience of crossing distant countries through incredible places? Well, I did and I’ll tell you what it’s like.
The Eurail Pass
There are several ways to travel by train in Europe, the first would be to buy the tickets directly at the train stations, however depending on the amount of trains you will pick up or the amount of travel days it can get a bit expensive. One of the best options in this case is to choose an Eurail Pass, which depending on the chosen plan you can pick up as many trains you want in different periods of days. The most common plans are:
As I was going to travel for 1 month and for several countries I chose the Global Pass for convenience.
How to get a Eurail Pass?
You can buy it online and you will receive the pass in your home. It has a main ticket plus a diary where you will write whenever you catch a train. Along with the pass also comes a rail map of Europe and also a booklet with explanations.
It is worth remembering that there is Eurail and Interrail. Interrail is only for those who are European, have citizenship and have a fixed address in Europe. If you don’t have a European passport, you can get Eurail and the pass can only be delivered to an address of the country of origin in your passport.
In my case I live in Ireland, but I don’t have European citizenship, my pass has been sent to Brazil and from there it has been sent to my address in Ireland.
Planning a train trip around Europe
First we must remember that the rail network of Europe is giant, so it is very easy to get to any city, no matter how small and without depending on any type of plane for that.
Setting up the route for me was very difficult, I wanted to go everywhere, but I didn’t have the time or the money to do it. It took me a few days, but I managed to finish.
My trip was through Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Holland and Belgium for 1 month. I chose these countries by making a circular route because as I live in Ireland I would have to choose a place nearby and where I could get a cheap flight at the end.
Your pass gives you the right to take any train in the country he has covered, however some high speed or night trains need a separate reservation. The reservation amount will depend on the stretch that will be made and varies between €11 and €70. Reservations can be made at the customer service desk or online at the Eurail website and as soon as you pay you receive your reservation tickets. I advise you to make reservations in advance, because if you leave for the day they may not be available.
How to use Eurail Pass?
Well, as soon as your pass arrives you will have an overview of it. Your pass is completely filled by yourself during the trip and it can not be shaved in any way or it will become invalid. First of all you need to activate it on the first day of your trip in the tickt station in some train station. When doing this the attendant will fill in the number of your passport, the first and the last day of your trip and then stamp the pass.
With the pass actived you can catch any train in the country(ies) that your pass has coverage. Whenever you take a train you need to fill in your “Travel Calendar” pass with the day and month of the trip and in “Travel Diary” where you will put the day, time, place where you are and destination you are going. When the train had some connection I filled with the connections. Everything should be filled with blue or black pen, never pencil.
You can get straight into the train and go to the that says in your pass. If you have made any reservations, look for the couch and the seat informed on the ticket.
Once you are inside the couch just wait for the agent who checks the tickets, you show your pass along with your passport and that’s it, just enjoy your trip. If the station has any turns you should just scan the bar code behind the pass.
App Rail Planner
This was the most useful app in my trip, as it shows absolutely everything about the trains, like schedules, days, reservations and where the train is at the moment. Sometimes I had planned to catch the train, but I was enjoying the place, so I just opened the App to see the next times and plan better for the day.
How to travel with Eurail Pass?
I confess that at first I was super nervous because I had never traveled by train before. I had many doubts, but the whole Eurail team helped me in that part.
My first destination was Switzerland with its incredible railway network, something that must be a patrimony of humanity. In the first station I was a bit lost, but then I found myself, because all the station follow the same logic. Then I went to Italy, where I felt the stark difference between the Swiss quality, but that also had no problem.
After Italy I passed through Slovenia and Croatia, where the trains are a bit older, will depend on the stretch you make. One of them I thought was from the time of the former Yugoslavia. On the way between Croatia and Germany my train was at night, so there were cabins with very comfortable beds, but the experience of sleeping on a train is the same as sleeping on a plane, we wake up a bit tired.
Already in Germany I took a train that was the best of all, business class extremely comfortable and still had a very fast Wi-Fi that even gave to watch a Netflix. In Holland and Belgium everything was quiet as well.
For me it was an unforgettable experience. Spend 1 month crossing Europe by land passing through incredible places. My sincere opinion is that if you have the opportunity to take a trip of this type, do so, it is very worthwhile.