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Old 11-09-2014, 06:32 PM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
38,888 posts, read 20,174,085 times
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I am thinking of planning a trip to Europe and could use some advice regarding train travel and hotels. I found lots of websites that discuss the ease of traveling between countries via rail so I was wondering if it was practical to stay in one country and do day trips into other countries so I don't have to lug my bags around with me on excursions - I was thinking of staying part of my trip in London and the other part in Paris so I can explore those two cities more thoroughly and do day trips from these two cities .... Is this idea feasible?

I know that you can do overnight trains but I don't know how safe it would be as a female traveling solo AND I don't want to lug my bags around with me. My other idea was to just book a tour but I would likely spend more money on a tour and have less flexibility.

Note: I am an experienced traveler within the US and Canada but have never gone overseas before so this will be a new adventure for me. I need to do this trip while I have the opportunity to travel. Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions
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Old 11-09-2014, 08:51 PM
 
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Pack light. Book openjaw tickets. Spend more than a day in each country.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:07 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, QC, Canada
3,402 posts, read 4,449,460 times
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Making a base in a single city will be unnecessarily and tragically expensive. Basically all of Europe is safer and more secure than North America. Don't worry about your bags, just pack light and keep cash and cards in a money belt or at least out of your pockets.

Trains are expensive and are little more than glorified metro cars. Look at intercity bus travel, blablacar, or even Easyjet or Ryanair flights.

Don't be afraid to see something more than London, Paris, or Amsterdam. Europe is packed with untravelled towns and capitals further afield.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,685 posts, read 16,112,809 times
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A day trip in many cases could put you on the train for 5-6 hours and leave you only 4 hours or so to see your destination.

If luggage is your concern, there are a lot of almost cult-like web sites out there about packing light for air travel, to Europe, with one carry-on, etc. Go over with a smaller bag that contains a duffel bag that you can fold up in an even small space and map it out so that if you plan to do most of your shopping in say, Paris, make that your last stop on the trip, fill up your emergency duffel bag there, and then you're only really worrying about lots of baggage on the way back to the airport.

Europe largely has extremely low rates of violent crime against tourists, even single females, as long as you're sensible about your surroundings like you'd be back home. It's the petty pickpockets and scammers you need to watch out for there.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:55 PM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
38,888 posts, read 20,174,085 times
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Thanks for your feedback ... I just hate the idea of carrying around my bags even if I pack light and packing light can be a challenge if I don't have access to laundry facilities and don't want to waste my trip checking into multiple hotels .... Not sure what the best strategy but with a hotel base, I can leave my luggage and only carry my essentials.
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:01 PM
 
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I agree on packing light. You can do it! I can easily pack for two weeks in my backpack, including all the girly stuff like makeup, hair stuff and heels. I have been through 7 European countries so far, all with my trusty pack.
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Old 11-09-2014, 10:05 PM
 
Location: NW Indiana
1,320 posts, read 1,184,309 times
Reputation: 2084
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse44 View Post
Making a base in a single city will be unnecessarily and tragically expensive. Basically all of Europe is safer and more secure than North America. Don't worry about your bags, just pack light and keep cash and cards in a money belt or at least out of your pockets.

Trains are expensive and are little more than glorified metro cars. Look at intercity bus travel, blablacar, or even Easyjet or Ryanair flights.

Don't be afraid to see something more than London, Paris, or Amsterdam. Europe is packed with untravelled towns and capitals further afield.
Jesse44 has some valid points, depending on what areas of Europe you are travelling to and how much time you have.

Train tickets / passes can be expensive, but you can find deals. At least one problem with your idea, is you will lose a lot of time on round trips. I think it is better to base in one area for a while, taking fairly short day trips from a central location, then move to another area and base there. This way you can still limit the packing/unpacking while seeing several areas / countries.

For example in Belgium you can buy a package of 10 train tickets good for any trip within Belgium, which ends up cost about 7.5 euros per ride. So a trip from Brussels to Bruges and back would cost about 15 Euros. The problem is that they are not good for travel to other countries.

In October 2013, we wanted to visit Aachen on a day trip from Brussels. We worked it out by taking the train from Brussels to the last stop in Belgium, then taking a cheap bus in to Aachen. It was an easy, cheap trip, but did include some delays as we had to wait on both trains and connecting buses, plus the bus made lots of stops, so was not quick.

On that same trip, we pre-booked a high speed rail trip between Brussels and Amsterdam (using the website referenced at the end of this post). This sounds more like what you are interested in. I would join Jesse44 in recommending you actually move your base in this case, as we did. We ended up spending the first four days of our trip based out of Brussels and the last 3 days based out of Amsterdam.

The choice of train or flight (or rental car) comes down to price and time. Remember, security adds a fair amount of time to air travel. For us the high speed rail was the choice. Plus, most of our group had never been on a high speed rail, so it was sort of nice. I liked the rail cars in Belgium and Germany, finding them clean, comfortable and easy to use. We also enjoyed the scenery as we road along.

In 2008, we also used a train to get from Amsterdam to Cologne Germany. This was sort of pricey, but worked for us. In terms of cost, it was cheaper to take the train to Cologne and then rent our car in Cologne for the rest our trip. However, further investigating might have revealed a cheap flight was workable as well.

While you did not really mention renting a car, it is a viable option. One the Belgium - Amsterdam trip, we ended up using trains but on the Amsterdam - Germany trip in 2008, the car was the way to go. However, we found it much better to pick up and return within the same country. Our plan in 2008, was fly in to Amsterdam, spend a few days, train to Cologne where we had reserved a car, then drive to Koblenz for a few day, then drive to Munich and Octoberfest for a few days. We then flew home out of Munich.

A car in this case, allows more flexibility and the ability to see areas that trains do not reach. We had a great day driving along the Rhine in the St. Goar area. We even took the car ferry across the Rhine and drove back to Koblenz on the other side of the river. As Jesse44 noted, it is worth getting out of the big cities!

I will add a plug for a website that we used for the Belgium - Amsterdam trip, that worked very well for us. This site allows you to really explore a lot of options with flights and hotels. Plus, they have an entire section devoted to trips splitting time between countries. So you can explore choices of hotel in Brussels or Amsterdam, in an effort to balance amenities, cost and location. I can also recommend their customer service. We called several times and were always happy with the help we received.

http://www.europeandestinations.com/

Anyway, feel free to Direct Message me with any questions! Obviously, I love to talk about travel.
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:26 PM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
38,888 posts, read 20,174,085 times
Reputation: 35917
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyTarge13 View Post
Jesse44 has some valid points, depending on what areas of Europe you are travelling to and how much time you have.

Train tickets / passes can be expensive, but you can find deals. At least one problem with your idea, is you will lose a lot of time on round trips. I think it is better to base in one area for a while, taking fairly short day trips from a central location, then move to another area and base there. This way you can still limit the packing/unpacking while seeing several areas / countries.

For example in Belgium you can buy a package of 10 train tickets good for any trip within Belgium, which ends up cost about 7.5 euros per ride. So a trip from Brussels to Bruges and back would cost about 15 Euros. The problem is that they are not good for travel to other countries.

In October 2013, we wanted to visit Aachen on a day trip from Brussels. We worked it out by taking the train from Brussels to the last stop in Belgium, then taking a cheap bus in to Aachen. It was an easy, cheap trip, but did include some delays as we had to wait on both trains and connecting buses, plus the bus made lots of stops, so was not quick.

On that same trip, we pre-booked a high speed rail trip between Brussels and Amsterdam (using the website referenced at the end of this post). This sounds more like what you are interested in. I would join Jesse44 in recommending you actually move your base in this case, as we did. We ended up spending the first four days of our trip based out of Brussels and the last 3 days based out of Amsterdam.

The choice of train or flight (or rental car) comes down to price and time. Remember, security adds a fair amount of time to air travel. For us the high speed rail was the choice. Plus, most of our group had never been on a high speed rail, so it was sort of nice. I liked the rail cars in Belgium and Germany, finding them clean, comfortable and easy to use. We also enjoyed the scenery as we road along.

In 2008, we also used a train to get from Amsterdam to Cologne Germany. This was sort of pricey, but worked for us. In terms of cost, it was cheaper to take the train to Cologne and then rent our car in Cologne for the rest our trip. However, further investigating might have revealed a cheap flight was workable as well.

While you did not really mention renting a car, it is a viable option. One the Belgium - Amsterdam trip, we ended up using trains but on the Amsterdam - Germany trip in 2008, the car was the way to go. However, we found it much better to pick up and return within the same country. Our plan in 2008, was fly in to Amsterdam, spend a few days, train to Cologne where we had reserved a car, then drive to Koblenz for a few day, then drive to Munich and Octoberfest for a few days. We then flew home out of Munich.

A car in this case, allows more flexibility and the ability to see areas that trains do not reach. We had a great day driving along the Rhine in the St. Goar area. We even took the car ferry across the Rhine and drove back to Koblenz on the other side of the river. As Jesse44 noted, it is worth getting out of the big cities!

I will add a plug for a website that we used for the Belgium - Amsterdam trip, that worked very well for us. This site allows you to really explore a lot of options with flights and hotels. Plus, they have an entire section devoted to trips splitting time between countries. So you can explore choices of hotel in Brussels or Amsterdam, in an effort to balance amenities, cost and location. I can also recommend their customer service. We called several times and were always happy with the help we received.

http://www.europeandestinations.com/

Anyway, feel free to Direct Message me with any questions! Obviously, I love to talk about travel.
Thank you for your detailed suggestions and the website. I obviously need to research my trip and the areas that I want to visit but I was thinking about London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna and Amsterdam .... If possible, I'd love to visit the Scandinavian countries ... Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark ....

What about this idea ....

Staying in the following countries London, Paris and staying in one of the Scandinavian countries ... Then I can visit some of the surrounding countries via rail or other mass transit options (I don't drive so renting a car isn't an option).
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Old 11-09-2014, 11:29 PM
 
Location: The Chatterdome in La La Land, CaliFUNia
38,888 posts, read 20,174,085 times
Reputation: 35917
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse44 View Post
Making a base in a single city will be unnecessarily and tragically expensive. Basically all of Europe is safer and more secure than North America. Don't worry about your bags, just pack light and keep cash and cards in a money belt or at least out of your pockets.

Trains are expensive and are little more than glorified metro cars. Look at intercity bus travel, blablacar, or even Easyjet or Ryanair flights.

Don't be afraid to see something more than London, Paris, or Amsterdam. Europe is packed with untravelled towns and capitals further afield.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cdarocks View Post
I agree on packing light. You can do it! I can easily pack for two weeks in my backpack, including all the girly stuff like makeup, hair stuff and heels. I have been through 7 European countries so far, all with my trusty pack.
Thanks for the tips about packing light .... Even if I packed light, carrying my bags would be a pain in the butt especially if I were to make purchases when I'm out sight-seeing ... Plus, I'm concerned about the availability of laundry facilities so I need to have an adequate supply of clothes, etc ....
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Old 11-10-2014, 12:01 AM
 
Location: Australia
8,036 posts, read 2,820,015 times
Reputation: 38559
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chatteress View Post
Thank you for your detailed suggestions and the website. I obviously need to research my trip and the areas that I want to visit but I was thinking about London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Vienna and Amsterdam .... If possible, I'd love to visit the Scandinavian countries ... Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark ....

What about this idea ....

Staying in the following countries London, Paris and staying in one of the Scandinavian countries ... Then I can visit some of the surrounding countries via rail or other mass transit options (I don't drive so renting a car isn't an option).
Chat - sorry, but it simply won't work, unless you're prepared to pay for hotel nights you won't actually be using (which doesn't make any financial sense). By the time you've travelled from London to Paris or Amsterdam you won't have a single minute to look around before you'd have to travel back to London to be there by bedtime! Same with travelling from Paris to Brussels, Berlin and Vienna. I'm only exaggerating a little bit... you may manage a couple of hours at your destination!

Consider a 3-country mainland Europe Eurail pass* and use that to get around. Most main rail stations have a hotel-finding office - they'll find you a nearby hotel within your price range. All over Europe, there are many good value hotels within a short walking distance of the main train stations. Take one medium-size wheelie bag and a shoulder-bag if you need extra space. You can wash your undies in your hotel bathroom and dry them overnight. Same with easy-care tops. Mix and match colour-wise. Three pairs of pants, a mix of co-ordinating tops, one light jacket and you're good to go.

* There are other types of Eurail pass - pick the one that best suits your itinerary. They may seem expensive, but they are so easy to use IMO they're really worth it.
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