Is it just me, or does everyone have that dream at some point in their life to live their life on the tracks? Just jump train-to-train and go wherever the wind takes them. Maybe it was from growing up with a train track in backyard, but I always wondered where all the trains were going and I always wanted be on one and go somewhere too.
Last spring, a group of friends and I got the chance to experience a very small taste of what the fantasy of that life would be like. We had about a month off for our spring break and decided to spend as much of it as possible traveling on the Eurail, exploring as many different destinations as possible with the time we had. It was our way to experience as much as Europe had to offer in the short amount of time we had off.
All of the Planning
We decided that the pass that best fit out itinerary was the Global Pass twenty-two day continuous and at the time we purchased it we received an extra three days free with our pass. We also decided that since we were going to be spending a lot of time on the trains, it was worth it to spend the little extra money for the first class tickets versus the second class. (Not gonna lie, it was a fantastic choice and I highly recommend it if your planning month long or longer trips)
For our trip, we used the Eurail’s European Highlights itinerary as a starting point to plan out trip, and then edited it according to our timetable and everyone’s personal preference for the trip. One of the easy adjustments we made to the itinerary was taking France off the trip since we had done a weekend trip previously, so we decided to start in Amsterdam and and add destination after destination after that.
We manages to explore ten countries and sixteen cities with our “twenty five” day Global Pass on the Eurail. Most major cities we stayed about two days and the smaller cities we stayed about a day and a half. We would schedule our trains either early in the morning or later at night if they were longer so we wouldn’t waste too much of the day. With shorter train ride, we scheduled those around mid afternoon so we could spend the morning wandering in a city and have the evening in a new city. We tried to plan out as much as possible ahead of time so that while we were traveling we didn’t have anything left to think or worry about.
(Also, when I say “schedule”, I mean we planned out most of our time table so that we knew expactly what train we were taking and on what day. We had a few that required reservations but most never reqiured it. On our first train ride, we all got divide up because we didn’t have reserved seats together. Which is not a big deal because we had a ticket no matter what. After that train ride, we decided to make reservations on the longer ones so that we could all sit together and not worry about being separate. We like’d our buddy system.)
The best AirBnb award goes to our double-balcony in Venice. Even when it rained we lived for that view!
A lot of our planning revolved around time, budget, and effeciency. We wanted to make sure that we did not spend the rest of our savings on the trip ( we still had a month left of school in London when we got back.) So we were still trying to be cautious, but we wanted to make sure we werent always racing against the clock instead of taking in all of the experiences.
We kept an incredibly detail document between the six of us on our google docs up to date with our travel plans. Any time a train time, flight, or revervation changed we updated the document. You probably thinking, that is incredibly over the top to go that much into detail, but it was exactly what we needed. Most of the time we didn’t always have WiFi so it was important to have a saved copy of the document on our phones (and a hard copy) so we would always have the train times, our AirBnb rservations addresses, and emergency contacts.
During our planning, we found that one of the things that was equally as important to us was time management. We ended up booking a flight from Monte Carlo (technically we flew out of Nice) to Barcelona to not only save time, but so we didn't waste a day dedicated to travel. We wanted to spend as much time in each city as possible, and by switching it up and taking that flight we were able to to extend out trip to Lisbon. We also found that we saved more money by booking AirBnbs. AirBnbs tended to be in the locations that we wanted, whether it was in the city center, close to the train station, best prices, and felt more autentic. It was like a homey introduction as soon as we got to each city and the hosts were always willing to tell us where the best food, hidden attractions, and local favorites were in the city.
Overall, the Eurail was the most flexible and cost effective option for us and everything we wanted to accomplish. And oh boy did we test the limits of what we could pack into twenty-five days.
xx A Traveler's Bliss
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)