Europe by Rail Next Month!

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Eurail Global Pass - Europe rail passes

New adventures - getting ready to travel Europe by rail (Eurail)

After celebrating 13 months since I left my corporate job and five months of solo travel, I announced last week I will continue travelling for 7 more months, with Europe as the next chapter of my round-the-world adventure.

Following five months in Asia (India and Southeast Asia), the idea of going to Europe was really exciting. Aside from a brief brush with London, Paris, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro, I’ve only experienced Europe through stories from friends who backpacked Europe after university.

A small announcement

Eurail.com, the worldwide online seller of Eurail train passes, has generously agreed to sponsor our rail transportation for Europe!

After I booked my flight to Turkey (the starting point for my Europe trip) back in April, I approached Eurail.com and they’ve recently agreed to sponsor our rail travel in exchange for us sharing/photographing/blogging about our Europe rail and travel experience.

If you’ve enjoyed my updates from Asia, that means you can look forward to (even more!) great updates as I travel by rail through Europe.

One of the stops on the itinerary is Eurail.com’s week-long event in Venice, Italy from Friday July 15 to Thursday July 21 to celebrate winning Mashable’s Best Social Media Customer Service Award in 2010.

Some facts about Eurail.com’s award/celebration event:

  • Eurail.com won the Best Social Media Customer Service Mashable Award for 2010, which is considered Oscar’s for web innovation.
  • Looking at how fast and helpful their emails and Facebook/Twitter responses are (including to questions I’ve sent), it’s no surprise they won. In addition, they answer customer questions in English, Spanish, German and Dutch.
  • To celebrate the award, Eurail.com is inviting customers to a week-long celebration in Venice from Friday July 15 until Thursday July 21, which includes free 30-minute gondola rides (worth €90) and a big kick off party on July 15 at PLUS hostels’ camping in Mestre with welcome drinks, toga parties and more.
  • See free gondola rides for everyone for more details, or visit eurail.com, their Facebook fan page or follow them on Twitter for more information.

Europe rail travel 101

Since this will be my first time travelling in Europe, the rail system was completely new to me. Here are a few things I learned recently about rail travel in Europe.

  • The Eurail network has 225,000 miles of railway tracks, spanning 25 countries, and is served by over 50,000 trains.
  • You can buy a single country passes (starts at $49), a “regional pass” for 2 countries (starts at $179), “select pass” covering 3 to 5 countries (starts at $315) or a global pass for all the countries (starts at $495).
  • Eurail Passes can be purchased on eurail.com for non-European customers, while European customers can visit InterRail on interrailnet.com.
  • See find the best pass on Eurail.com to browse the different rail passes.

Tentative travel itinerary


View Explore for a Year – Europe 2011 in a larger map

After averaging three to four weeks per country in India and Southeast Asia, I’m going to change it up with at a faster pace, aiming to visit 20+ countries in Europe over the next 4-5 months.

The rough itinerary is:

  • Turkey (arrived May 7th and will stay for the rest of the month)
  • Eastern Europe starting June 1 (incl. Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Italy, Greece)
  • Balkan area starting end of July (incl. Croatia, Serbia)
  • Western Europe starting mid August (incl. Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal)

See my spreadsheet on Google Docs for approximate arrival/departure dates for each country.

If you find yourself in Europe over the next few months, I’d love to connect! Say hi to me here, on Twitter or email me lily@exploreforayear.com.

Budget for Europe

According to Lonely Planet’s Europe on a Shoestring guide, the estimated costs for minimalist travel ranges from 20 Euros to 80 Euros a day, or about $30 – $100 per day depending on the country.

To help with the budget (and for a new travel experience!) I’m going to try couchsurfing for the first time (see my profile on couchsurfing.org. If you, or if you have friends/family, who’d like to host a happy traveller, or even show me around for an hour, please let me know at lily@exploreforayear.com :)

Get ready for more great photos and updates from me about our rail and Europe adventures!

Subscribe to email updates, follow me on twitter.com/lilyleung, or like me on Facebook.com/ExploreforaYear.

>> What are your favourite places in Europe? What budget travel advice would you give me?


If you’re interested in more Europe rail travel, here are two other Eurail/InterRail train journeys to follow by other travel bloggers:

  • Europe Train Challenge – started May 2nd, a 90-day Europe train journey through 30 countries starring the bloggers from As We Travel, which will be filmed and released as a TV show.
  • Ultimate Train Challenge – an attempt to set a new world record for the longest continuous train journey from Lisbon, Portugal to Saigon, Vietnam in 30 days. The challenge starts September 1 with 6 participants, including one of my favourite bloggers from Toronto, Ayngelina Brogan.

Other articles you may like:

Resources about Europe train travel


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  • http://www.escapehunter.com/ Escape Hunter

    What’s great about “the old continent” is that travelers have the possibility to get almost anywhere by train! Yet, Europe’s rail network is sluggish… nowhere near Japan’s system.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks for stopping by! I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Japan, but I have heard lots of great things about their rail system. Thanks for reminding me about another interesting country I still have to visit :)

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  • http://twitter.com/swgraphic Sarah Wu

    Congrats on your sponsorship and euro trip. That’s a great news. I have to check out their site again. I’m not if I book through them before. Because I think I was having problem using the credit card on the site… maybe not them I’ll check.

  • Anonymous

    Lily, nice score with the free rail pass. I still dont have a way to get around in Europe. I landed with a similar itinerary to you. I did Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, and I dont know what next… seems you have a better plan. Im here longer than 7 months though… I hope.

    Ant any stage if you wanna meet up in person for a drink, or to share your wisdom (remember it was a post of yours that I loved and helped inspire me to quit my job), Id love to.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi EagerExistence,

      Meeting up if we’re in the same place sounds great! Based on your tweets, I think you’re in… Greece right now? If you’re going to Bulgaria/Romania next, let me know! And thanks for the congrats on the Eurail passes – I think an “exchange” better describes the arrangement rather than free ;) I’ll be doing some small coverage of my rail trip and their event in Venice via updates and my pro-photographer friend will be taking photos :)

      Talk soon!
      - Lily

  • http://twitter.com/RaySoneHovijitr Ray Sone Hovijitra

    Wow!!!!! So ridiculously awesome!! What an amazing itinerary.  We’ll be in Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece 18-26 June while you are in lovely Bohemia. You’ll still be in Turkey when Kevin and Peung pass through!! Have you guys arranged a meet up?  Cheers, Ray and Nok

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Ray & Nok,

      Sounds like I’ll have to pick your brain later on Greece – those exactly the same spots I was planning to visit :) I think Kevin & Rob and I are in different places at the moment, and I’m heading to Bulgaria within the next few days, so don’t think we’ll get to meet up (this time!) Have a wonderful trip to Greece, I’m looking forward to your photos!

      - Lily

  • http://profiles.google.com/graciel.cecilio Grace -Pinay on the move

    Hey that is so awesome Lily!  Again, the itinerary looks really exciting. Safe travels ahead.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks Grace! Safe adventures to you too :)

      - Lily

  • http://www.europeantravelista.com Debbie Beardsley

    That is a great deal, congrats.  Europe is amazing and train travel is fun.  I arrive in Germany on August 21 and will be spending 2 days in Bamberg.  There is so much to see in Germany – I know you will love it.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks Debbie! I’m really excited about Europe and train travel as well – it’ll pretty much be my first time “backpacking” through Europe. I’ve heard lots of great things about Germany, plus I may see friends on my visit! Have a great trip and safe travels :)

      - Lily

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Inka-Piegsa-quischotte/583179105 Inka Piegsa-quischotte

    Congratulations on swinging that deal with euro rail. Just goes to show: initiative pays off big time. Welcome to Turkey, enjoy Istanbul, I’m not far away.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

       Hi Inka,

      Thanks for the welcome to Turkey. I’m in Goreme at the moment, but was in Istanbul for 4 days and LOVED it. There was so much to explore from just walking around and the chocolate baklava was heavenly! Are you currently in Turkey?

      - Lily 

  • http://www.manonthelam.com manonthelam

    Eurail is excellent!  They even include some ferry rides — Le Havre to Cork was one I took many moons ago.  Good on ya for continuing your journey!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

       Thank you :) I’m looking forward to experiencing the ferry rides (I’ve been told they are nothing like the “ferries”/boats in Southeast Asia), and I’m also excited for the scenic train rides too… so much to look forward to!

      - Lily

  • http://www.globotreks.com Norbert

    That’s so sweet that Eurail is sponsoring your train rides! You’re going to have so much fun in Europe! Looking forward to read more about it.

  • http://www.wanderlustandlipstick.com/blogs/hammockinparadise Lisa

    You will have such an amazing time! I lived in Germany for three years and loved the travel in Europe. I will be heading back there this fall for an extended adventure.

  • http://twitter.com/alishaamr Alisha Robertson

    This is great info for the Eurail..Thanks! Also, congrats on 13 months since escaping your corporate job! Can’t wait to be in Europe in November!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Alisha, thanks for the congrats! Time sure flies when you’re having fun – I thought five months of travel would be enough, but the travel bug has only grown. Just checked out your blog – I’ll be following along your round-the-world adventures as well :)

      - Lily

  • http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/ Jeremy Branham

    This is awesome! Congrats! I love Europe – my favorite destination. And absolutely love train travel as well. I am very envious of you for this but hope you have a great time!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks Jeremy! I’m looking forward to experiencing train travel for the first time in Europe – I’ve heard so much about it from friends and colleagues over the years, from budget and non-budget travellers.

      - Lily
      (P.S. Just took a guess at your “Where in the world am I?” photo :))

  • http://twitter.com/fotoeins Henry Lee

    Lily, I’m planning to be in Germany later this year in late-September to early-October. I’m visiting friends in the Hamburg and Munich area, as well as a side-trip to Weimar (e.g., Goethe, Schiller, Bauhaus). As is usual for me, I’ll be traveling around the country with Deutsche Bahn (with a train pass). Have fun in Europe, and I’m looking forward to reading about your travel.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Henry,

      That sounds like a lovely trip through Germany! Will you be there in time for Octoberfest? I hear that’s a really lively festival to be in town for :) Have a wonderful trip and keep me updated!

      - Lily

  • http://www.1yearsabbatical.com Matt

    That sounds absolutely fantastic! I’ve always enjoyed traveling by train. It’s great that you got a sponsorship. I wish there was a train from US to SE Asia. I wonder if I can get a major airline to sponsor my sabbatical to Indonesia? Looking forward to reading what life on the rails is like.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Matt,

      A train from US (or Canada) to SE Asia would be a dream come true – imagine the scenery you’d pass going up north through Alaska (or the Pacific Ocean?!) It wouldn’t hurt to ask an airline about sponsoring your tickets/miles for your travels to Indonesia, worse is they say no :) Good luck!

      - Lily

  • http://www.nomadicnotes.com James Clark

    Train is the best way to go in Europe! Have a great trip :)

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks James! Hope we’ll cross paths in Europe this fall… it’d be great to catch up over coffee… on a new continent! :)

      - Lily

  • http://www.onmywayrtw.com Megan

    Awesome! I’ve been to Europe a few times now and I always buy a Eurail pass – it makes train travel far more economical and travelling by train across Europe is an experience everyone should have :)

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Agreed! Up to now I’ve only “experienced” Europe rail travel from friends who backpacked after university, so I’m looking forward to enjoying the first-hand experience! I may ask you for Europe travel tips as the time gets closer :)

      - Lily

  • http://www.donteverlookback.com Amy & Kieron

    That’s great news Lily! Have a blast traveling through Europe with Eurail. :)

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks Amy & Kieron, I’m looking forward to it – my first time!

      - Lily

  • http://twitter.com/Ayngelina Ayngelina

    Hot damn Lily that sounds fantastic. I have never taken Eurarail so I’m curious to hear what you think of it.

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Hi Aygenlina,

      I’ll make sure I keep you updated ;) It’ll be my first time taking rail in Europe too, so I’m looking forwards to seeing how it compares to trains in Canada, India and Southeast Asia.

      - Lily

  • http://getbusylivingblog.com Benny Hsu

    Sounds like it’s going to be amazing!!!! I’m happy you got a sponsorship. So cool!

    • http://exploreforayear.com Lily

      Thanks Benny! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of Europe, and sharing the adventures with everyone as well :)

      - Lily