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Things you must know before traveling Europe by train


Apart from having your passport, visa and travel insurance sorted, here’s a checklist of things to take care of beforehand, for a smooth trip to Europe, especially by train.

If you’re from America, chances are, you’re used to taking the bus to places when the journey is 6 hours or under. For anything more than that, you fly. Trains aren’t really a thing, except for local commutes, like the Subway system in NYC. However, when you travel from town to town, country to country in Europe, taking the train might be the easiest and cheapest option.

When people say they backpacked through Europe (maybe alone, in their twenties) they immediately become cool and interesting. It sounds so carefree, fun, even magical to travel Europe. But for a hassle-free, truly relaxing trip, you have to keep so many things in mind.


Apart from having your passport, visa and travel insurance sorted, here’s a checklist of things to take care of beforehand, for a smooth trip to Europe, especially by train.

Pack light

We know. We sound like your mom. But packing light is literally the first and most important thing you have to do when traveling to Europe. You’ll be taking a lot of trains, and you don’t want to be lugging around heavy bags when you do that. Pack essentials, but not much more. The point is to visit beautiful towns, experience culture, eat great food, meet new people. Not to carry the weight of everything you own on your shoulders.

Make a budget

Another boring thing you have to do for a smooth trip. When you’re in Europe, you’ll find yourself paying for things several times a day. Food, commute, tickets for shows and attractions, water, not to mention shopping. On top of that pounds and euros are a little more expensive than dollars. So to avoid panicking out of the blue, wondering exactly how much money you’re spending, it’s a good idea to make a budget and try to stick to it.

Sort out your bank cards

If you live in California and there’s suddenly a charge on your credit card from Paris, your bank will see that as a red flag and block your card. And that is not good. You don’t want to find yourself in a foreign country with no money. So in order to keep everything working as it should be, inform your bank and credit card companies of your travel dates beforehand. Also, try to pay cash in local currency as much as you can, to avoid conversion fee, which can sometimes be ridiculous. On top of that, paying in cash can also help keep your budget in check.

Sort out your phone

This is easy to do, but an absolute must. Check your service provider’s website for options. Some providers may allow international calls and internet access without additional cost. But generally, they all have reasonable international plans that would work for you and your budget.

Compare single-trip and day pass prices

When buying tickets for trains, buses, trams to travel within a city, make sure you calculate fares and compare to day passes. If you end up making 3 trips or more on the train, it usually makes more sense to buy a day pass and that allows you unlimited trips.

Buy tickets in advance

When traveling between cities, or countries, it makes sense to buy tickets ahead of time, since the fares aren’t always fixed. To avoid high fares at the last minute, buy tickets weeks, even months before your travel dates. Some tickets you can print out at home, but some might need to be couriered to you (at additional cost) so make sure you leave some time for them to reach you before flying out to your first stop in Europe.


Control your OCD

Well planned trips take away a lot of stress while you’re traveling, but you can only plan so much. Leave space for spontaneous ideas and go with the flow. It’s not just about the destinations, the journey might allow you great experiences and take you to wonderful places. Don’t try to do too many things in too little time. Do fewer things — make it up as you go!

Don’t be a total tourist

Sure, go to the most popular tourist attractions. You can’t go to Paris and ditch Eiffel Tower or not see the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, but don’t just do the touristy things. Walk around, be on foot, see things, walk into cafes and bars for a drink, indulge in street food, talk to locals, or not — whatever floats your boat. But don’t just visit Europe, walk around Europe as if you live there.

Nikita Singh