5 Tips For Travelling By Train In Europe

Above: A train at the station in Barcelona, Spain (Photo: Shutterstock/Pagina)

When you have just a week or even fewer days to vacation in Europe, one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to travel the continent is by train. On a recent five-night trip in Europe, during which we travelled via high-speed trains booked through Rail Europe (a company that conveniently connects more than 50 different European train companies) , we were whisked us from Madrid to Barcelona, Nimes and Paris over the course of five nights and learned a few things about train travel. Here’s how to make your trip go smoothly.

Pack light

Do you really need more than a pair or two of bottoms and a few tops and underwear? It’ll be so much easier for you to hop on and off each train if all you’ve got is a carry-on or backpack. You can wear your stylish gear at home; pack instead with a focus on bringing only the essentials.

Have your electronics charged

Not all trains offer outlets (some do, though, so it’s a good idea to have your AC converter somewhere you can grab it easily), so if you plan to do some work on your laptop, for example, it’s best that it be fully charged. Also, many trains do not offer Wifi so don’t count on being able to email or surf while on the train.

Bring an emergency snack

Most trains do offer food and beverages for sale (and depending on the type of ticket you purchase, a meal may be included), but just in case your meal of choice sells out or nothing on board for sale meets your food restrictions, it’s better you have a snack with you so your stomach’s not grumbling for a couple of hours.

Bring something to keep you busy

Don’t count on the scenery to be your entertainment. While you might pass an interesting sight here and there, if you tend to be the type to get bored and restless, having something to occupy yourself with is a must (remember, many trains don’t offer Wifi, so don’t count on surfing on your tablet) whether that’s Sudoku, a book, or a podcast.

Plan enough time at the train station

When you’re in train stations you’ve never been to so you’re unfamiliar with its layout, and you perhaps don’t speak the language, it’s always better to be more generous with the time you arrive at the station rather than risk missing your train. Don’t forget if you’re taking the train into a new country, you’ll have to go through have your bags scanned and seeing a border-control agent, too, for which there may be long lines.

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