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Train Travel for 3 Month See All Trip?


Jul 17th, 2013, 11:16 PM
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Train Travel for 3 Month See All Trip?

I am a 24 year old American who is looking to go back to Europe to see all that i can, literally try and see almost every country and really try to see a few cities in each. i plan on traveling Mid to late September till basically i outstay my welcome or get low on funds. I have a good amount of money saved up to finance me trip (about $20k), and plan on trying to couch surf as much as i can to keep expenses to a minimum. I have looked into the rail system and have been looking at the continuous 3 month rail pass to do my travels, but have some concerns after doing research and reading other forum on here. I understand that there are reservation fees (which i hear during the time im going i may not have to be too concerned with) but I'm just wondering for the type of trip im trying to do will it be worth gettting?

As well as, since im under 26 i can choose either pass (1st or 2nd class), but dont know how much they really differ. i am a tall individual (6'3) and have big legs and feet so comfort is somewhat of concern, but not technically a deal breaker. So any info on what they actually offer would be great??? Wifi? Plug-ins for devices? Food?
macktec is offline  
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Jul 18th, 2013, 02:00 AM
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As an American, you can stay up to 90 days out of a non-rolling 180 days in Schengen countries. So be sure to factor that into your planning (i.e., see all the Schengen countries first then the UK, then the Balkans, and then Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, and Turkey before returning to the U.S. (You're going to need a visa for Belarus and Russia if you desire to visit those).

As for trains, first class is more comfortable, you have more legroom, and it's generally quieter. On Deutsche Bahn trains, the IC and ICE first class wagons have power ports, and a at-your-seat-food service (but you pay), and most have WiFi. I can't comment on other counties but I would expect them to be similar.

Buses are a good train alternative if you just want to travel from one major city to the next, especially if you are crossing borders.

If you have such a generous budget and you're anticipating your lodging costs to be very low, I would maybe look at a car rental for your Schengen tour -- I recently rented a BMW 5 series for 4 weeks for 800 Euro and if you get something much smaller and less fancy, you should be able to get a 3 month car rental for less than 2000USD. The up-side is that you can go where you want, when you want and stop wherever you want on the way. The down-side is that you also have to buy gas, have to pay for parking most of the time, and you can't sleep while driving.
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Jul 18th, 2013, 03:09 AM
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I would rethink your plan and narrow down the countries you would like to visit. There are approximately 50 countries in Europe and even if you only see 40 of them that's 120 cities (based on your criteria of a few cities in each country). This would make for a long trip where you see very little in each location. It would be a memory of lots of train or bus stations.

I would not start thinking about the rail pass until you have a basic itinerary and certainly not buy a pass before figuring out what you're doing. You don't have much time to plan this.

I would book an airline ticket to your farthest point and book the return ticket home from the last point on your itinerary.
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Jul 18th, 2013, 03:40 AM
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adrienne has some excellent advice, especially about the booking of flights.

Go grab Lonely Planet's Eastern Europe, Western Europe, UK, Germany, France, and Spain books and read through them, paying special attention to the suggested itineraries/walks through the various major cities (I don't think the Fodors guides have this feature). Then decide what you really want to see and do then plan accordingly.
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Jul 18th, 2013, 03:59 AM
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"but dont know how much they really differ."

If there are 50 countries, there are at least 70 train operating companies (TOCs), and getting on for 100 different sets of differences between first and standard class.

In third-world Europe, these differences matter. On premium routes in richer Europe, they matter only to train obsessives and people with more money than sense, though on some passes the premium for First can be so low it might be worth paying just for the slightly higher possibility of confort. They rarely affect leg room much (itself rarely an issue on trains, though for those to whom it matters, it's usually more important to choose aircraft-style seats rather than seats facing someone else): they affect girth room rather more.

On the line I use most often, they're a serious class differentiator. MPs, Peers of the Realm, Nobel prize winners, Prime Ministers and bishops go Standard: admen, hedge fund dealers, management consultants and similar lowlife go First. In Romania or Moldova, I wouldn't go Standard to save my life. I'm occasionally forced to go First on major routes at busy times if booking late, especially in France and Italy: I always emerge convinced I've been ripped off, and that it's God's way of telling me I ought to book earlier.
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Jul 18th, 2013, 10:43 PM
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Thank you everyone for your replies
I greatly appreciate the details pertaining to the classes on the train (sparkchaser), first class is sounding like the preferred choice if i got that path... As for the car, that would be cool but gas when i was in Europe was crazy priced and i hope to use the trains as an accommodation route here and there.

The comment about the 90 day stay in Europe i am fully aware of an thank you for adding the locations that i am allowed to travel in outside of the 90 period because i was getting a little confused lol.... My trip will generally include trips within the Schengen zone, with exceptions for the UK and Turkey.

Adrienne - I definitely am still looking into the journey i would like to make. Im trying to figure out the Forsure destinations and find location between id like to see. But comment is exactly why i wrote this to try and figure if this is truly worth it... so thank you
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