Planes, trains and apartments: DIY Europe

Planes, trains and apartments: DIY Europe

My siblings and I had been planning a long Euro trip together for years before we finally did it this year. With all of us grown up and with jobs and other responsibilities, even agreeing on a common schedule was a nightmare. And to make it even more complicated, we wanted to go to 13 cities in six weeks in different parts of the Europe-without having to step into an airport a single time. We decided to go the Eurail way and take trains from city to city.

Also, we wanted a more local experience of places we were going to visit so, instead of booking hotels, we booked apartments everywhere we went. I was in charge of planning everything, and with no travel agent involved, I consumed lots of time and research to figure out a route for us, how the train system worked and what areas to stay in the different cities we visited. At the end of it all, it was worth all the effort as we got to personalize our trip to our tastes, needs and budget!

Easy navigation

Eurail.com is pretty easy to navigate, and selecting the right pass really depends on how long you will be traveling, how many countries you plan on visiting and how many times you think you will use your pass. Since we were going to be there for 7 weeks, we decided to get the Global Pass, which allows unlimited travel days to any of the Schengen countries for two months from the first day of travel. You can get fewer travel days if you are staying long in most places and won't be using the train too much.

This does not include city trains such as the Metro, but the ticket can be used on local and regional trains. Your Eurail pass is not your ticket, and you will still need to reserve your seats for where you want to go, but it gives you the luxury of traveling for a way lower price than a full-fare ticket, so you can go to more places.

For instance, I was able to get a round-trip ticket from Paris to Strasbourg for only 18 euros as opposed to the 40-70-euro range for a one-way ticket if you buy without one. Another good thing about traveling via train is you can actually book a spot on a night train, sleep through the trip and wake up in your next destination, thereby also saving a little money by not booking an extra night at a hotel. Traveling by train also gives you the opportunity to see places and spectacular views that you would not be able to during air travel. Remember that you must book your Eurail pass before you arrive in Europe!

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