What do you choose? Eurail pass, busabout, fly or just wing it and pay as you go? Which is cheaper, which is going to be the most comfortable, which will allow you to get some sleep?? The questions are endless when deciding on what is the best way to get around Europe.
I’ve gone back and forth over how to travel around Europe when I leave in April, and to be honest its doing my head in. From the beginning I had dreams of travelling Europe just by train. Watching the gorgeous countryside pass me by, all with the speed and over night sleeping options of a train. Naturally then I was looking at getting an unlimited 2 or 3 month Global Eurail Pass.
That was until I found out its not cheap to travel via train, especially when you have passed the Youth age bracket of 26. A 2 month Global Pass with Eurail would have set me back $1919 AUD… yeah that’s what I said too.
I then thought about flying and taking advantage of the cut price airlines that operate out of Europe. Combining them with a cheaper train ticket is possible but most of the airports are out of the way. This requires extra spending just to get to where you wanted to be, making that cheap airfare not always so cheap after all.
Air travel also takes me far away from the views I hoped to see while travelling via train. So what’s like a train just a lot slower… a bus. Bus tours are popular and provide hop on and hop off pricing so you can travel at your own pace. The downside I found was that while they cost half the price of a 2 month global Eurail ticket, I was only going to be delivered to half of my chosen destinations.
It was at this point I almost decided to just wing it, hoping to catch a local bus or pay the fee at the train station as I went. Then I came to my senses and reached out for help on twitter (reminder for next time ask on twitter first) asking for advice on the topic.
Some great advice was offered. Craig from indietravelpodcast.com sent me a an awesome pdf on the topic and then numerous seasoned travellers shared their information on how they got around. Again I am overwhelmed by the sheer volume of support the travel community offers each other. Give yourselves all a pat on the back I say.
With this onslaught of knowledge I then crafted my own travel plan. Taking good bits of information and merging it with my own desires, I have come up with the following plan of attack.
As I intend to visit approx 13 countries over my 2-3 month lap of Europe, I am looking at a 15 day Global Eurail Pass over 2 months. This allows me to travel great distances quicker than a bus and have the option of a sleeper cabin if I’m so inclined to travel at night. Not to mention I get to watch the scenery pass me by.
While trains will get me to the major cities, I’ve decided to try my hand at catching local bus’s for the rest. They can be cheap and as Benny told me earlier “bus travel is the best for spontaneous to anywhere random travel”.
My Eurail ticket is almost half the cost of what I was originally intending to pay, leaving plenty of bus money spare. To be honest, even with a full 2 month Global Pass I’m sure I would still have had to catch a bus more often than not. At least that’s part of the reasoning I’m using to make myself believe this is the right idea.
So there is my plan of attack to get around Europe, well it will be unless you convince me otherwise. If you have a different opinion I’d love to hear it. Being my first trip I know I’ll make mistakes but if they can be avoided I’m all ears.
EDIT: Updated to reflect correct EURail pass. I will be buying a 15 Day Global Pass that is valid for 2 months.