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Taking the Train in Europe

One of your decisions in planning a backpacking trip to Europe will include transportation. Fortunately, Europe has some of the best transportation systems in the world. Taking the train is one option, and the one that many find the most convenient. We all know that convenience does not come cheap; the train is costly to take, but there are some reasonably priced options for backpackers.

You will likely have already heard of Eurail passes. These are special passes purchased before you leave Canada, allowing you to use the national rail lines of Europe for a reduced rate. The granddaddy is the Global pass covering 20 countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. It is valid from 15 consecutive days up to three months.

If you are under 26 on your first day of train travel, prices start at approximately $524 for the 15-day pass, and go up to about $1474 for the 3-month pass. If you are not so good at planning, and have a little extra money, splurge on the unlimited Global passes. For the planners, there are flexible day options as well as passes allowing you to choose a smaller number of countries (and pay a lot less). Check out all the options at www.raileurope.ca

Eurail tips:  
  • Don't forget that Great Britain is not covered on the Global passes; you can buy separate Britrail passes.
  • You have six months from the date of purchase to begin using your pass in Europe.
  • Plan to use your flexible days for the expensive trips on your journey, and pay for the short, cheap ones as you go. Some little journeys in cheaper countries may be less than $20 CDN.
  • As the passes are entirely used abroad, there is no GST. Your pass is like cash - make sure it lives in your moneybelt and your moneybelt lives around your waist and not inside your daypack.

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