While it can be difficult and time-consuming to travel around the continental United States, most of Europe offers high-speed trains that make travel both comfortable and efficient. You can hop a cheap Ryanair flight between European cities and reach your destination within a few hours if you want, but you can also book a train for around the same cost and avoid some of the hassle and stress of flying.
I actually love train travel — especially when we are vacationing in Europe with our kids. My two daughters are ages 7 and 9 right now, but they’ve already been on high-speed trains all around Italy, throughout Germany, and between Spain, Switzerland, and France. It’s nice to not have to deal with airport drama with the kids in tow, and trains are considerably more comfortable. My kids like to walk around a little bit, after all, and a lot of long-distance trains have a dining car where you get order coffee and snacks.
Some of my favorite travel memories with my children have actually taken place in dining cars. There’s something magical about ordering a coffee and a croissant or two and watching the beautiful European countryside go by for hours on end.
Why I Always Book Trains in Advance
A lot of people who have never traveled on trains before seem to be confused about how to book and when. There’s no right or wrong answer to fit every type of traveler. You can wait until you’re in your destination and book trains to almost anywhere you want to go to the local train station in your destination. A lot of people prefer that method since it doesn’t tie them down to departing at a specific time on a specific date. Without any trains booked ahead of time, travelers can move on to their next destination whenever they want.
Since I have kids and hate surprises, I prefer to book all my trains ahead of time. I like knowing when I’m going to depart and looking ahead to make sure my train will arrive in our new destination around check-in time for our next hotel or Airbnb.
In terms of how to book your train, the country you’re visiting will dictate which train company you ultimately book with. In Italy, for example, you can book through Trenitalia. Switzerland, on the other hand, has Swiss Federal Railways. If departing from Germany, you’ll book with Deutsche Bahn, and so on.
Why I Use Trainline.com
No matter where I’m traveling in Europe, I normally book as early as I can ahead of time with a website called Trainline. Trainline offers cheaper fares up to 51 percent off when you book far ahead of time. Better yet, they will let you book trains from multiple carriers on a single ticket.
For example, you could use the Trainline website to book train transportation from Rome, Italy to Grindelwald, Switzerland. This route would require five different trains across both Trenitalia and Swiss Federal Railways, but you can book it all through Trainline in a single transaction.
You don’t have to book your trains ahead of time, but Trainline offers a smart way to save money if you love having your travel plans laid out ahead of time.
Have you ever booked a train through Trainline? What is your favorite thing about train travel through Europe?
[Image Source: Wikimedia/ Jorge Láscar]
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