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Traveling In Europe Questions  
User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5517 posts, RR: 17
Posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 2655 times:

I will be traveling in Europe next week for the first time outside of Croatia. I've never traveled from country-to-country by train, and I am really looking forward to seeing other parts of Europe before I end up in Croatia. So, I have a few questions regarding traveling in Europe:

1) I am going to bring a laptop because I need it for medical school applications. I really don't want my laptop to get stolen, so can I rely on lockers at a train station or in a hotel/hostel? We're staying at hotels most nights but we're spending 2 nights in a hostel in Munich.

2) Has anyone used a Eurail pass before? It seems that some trains require a reservation beforehand. Are the reservation fees expensive? We're traveling from Rome to Zurich overnight, and it seems that there are only sleeper beds. How much extra would that cost?

3) I plan on bringing a cell phone with me so I can stay in contact with my father who can translate Croatian for me when I'm at my grandmother's house. Last time I was in Croatia, there was some ridiculous price ($10/minute or so) because it was international and we were using AT&T on a T-Mobile network. What if I brought an international phonecard with me? Would I be able to use that phonecard to avoid a huge fee?

Thanks to anyone who is able to help!

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAznMadSci From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 3670 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 2639 times:



Quoting Continental (Thread starter):
2) Has anyone used a Eurail pass before? It seems that some trains require a reservation beforehand. Are the reservation fees expensive? We're traveling from Rome to Zurich overnight, and it seems that there are only sleeper beds. How much extra would that cost?

My experience is based traveling around Italy on Eurostar Italia trains in 2006. If you take the high speed trains, basically anything faster than IC (Intercity) many require seat reservations which are usually under €20. Within Switzerland I don't believe you need reservations. Just make sure you get your Eurail pass validated at the first train station to minimize any problems while on the train. Check out Europe by Eurail at Border's or Barnes & Noble to see which countries on which trains require seat reservations.

Quoting Continental (Thread starter):
3) I plan on bringing a cell phone with me so I can stay in contact with my father who can translate Croatian for me when I'm at my grandmother's house. Last time I was in Croatia, there was some ridiculous price ($10/minute or so) because it was international and we were using AT&T on a T-Mobile network. What if I brought an international phonecard with me? Would I be able to use that phonecard to avoid a huge fee?

Don't do that! You'll still be charged connection and roaming fees on AT&T which are rarely worth it. What I've recently done is purchase an open network mobile phone through Overstock.com and on trips purchased a SIM card with a prepaid plan. Italy required a passport for purchase, which I didn't mind and understood why they required it. Ireland, and even Thailand and the Philippines don't require it. The SIM card is cheap, less than €10 and then you just add however much you want.



The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
User currently offlineBMIFlyer From UK - England, joined Feb 2004, 8810 posts, RR: 58
Reply 2, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2603 times:

Good advice for European rail travel can be found here.....

http://www.seat61.com/Railpass.htm


Lee



Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6324 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2587 times:



Quoting Continental (Thread starter):
2 nights in a hostel in Munich.

Which one?

Quoting Continental (Thread starter):
Has anyone used a Eurail pass before?

I like them. As was mentioned earlier, anything over the IC (InterCity) usually requires reservations, which are usually only a few dollars or maybe a bit more. That being said, with it being the high season, I would make reservations whenever you can. There are times when I did not listen to that advice and ended up sitting on my suitcase in the hallway of the train all the way from Berlin to Vienna because there were no seats...not fun. To me, knowing you will have a seat is worth a couple bucks.


User currently offlineL410Turbolet From Czech Republic, joined May 2004, 5712 posts, RR: 18
Reply 4, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 2556 times:

Roaming charges are still ridiculusly expensive, especially on prepaid plans. This might be an alternative worth considering:

http://www.wizzairsaversim.com/ (you will need an unlocked GSM phone)


User currently offlineTripleDelta From Croatia, joined Jul 2004, 1123 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 2532 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER



Quoting Continental (Thread starter):
3) I plan on bringing a cell phone with me so I can stay in contact with my father who can translate Croatian for me when I'm at my grandmother's house. Last time I was in Croatia, there was some ridiculous price ($10/minute or so) because it was international and we were using AT&T on a T-Mobile network. What if I brought an international phonecard with me? Would I be able to use that phonecard to avoid a huge fee?

You can also buy a pre-paid package here - they come in several service and credit levels, so you can probably find something that fits your needs (if you don't find any other agreeable options, especially ones you can't prepare from home). I do that all the time when I travel abroad for an extended period.



No plane, no gain.
User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5517 posts, RR: 17
Reply 6, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2517 times:

Thanks guys, this information is great! Rather than going through the hassle of buying and setting up a new phone, I think I'll try to get a phone card and use the phone at my relative's place. I'll bring my cell phone in case the phone call is emergent.

Quoting SW733 (Reply 3):
Which one?

I am staying in Easy Palace. I wanted to stay in one called Wombats, but I guess Easy Palace was way cheaper.

Quoting SW733 (Reply 3):
I like them. As was mentioned earlier, anything over the IC (InterCity) usually requires reservations, which are usually only a few dollars or maybe a bit more. That being said, with it being the high season, I would make reservations whenever you can. There are times when I did not listen to that advice and ended up sitting on my suitcase in the hallway of the train all the way from Berlin to Vienna because there were no seats...not fun. To me, knowing you will have a seat is worth a couple bucks.

Where can I make these reservations? Do I have to make them at the train station? My plan is to arrive in Venice by plane, go straight to the train station and catch a train to Florence after validating the pass and such.

I was wondering, what should I do for the Venice-Florence trip? Right now, it seems most trains are operated by EuroStar Italia (ESI) and require a reservation that costs 15 Euros! That's flippin' insane! I'm beginning to think that this is going to cost way more with the pass. ESI is the only service that goes to Santa Maria Novella which is right by our hotel. The other trains stop at stations very far away. So, am I going to have to pay the 15 Euros in addition to my pass? Out of all the reservation fees required in Europe, this is conveniently the most expensive and it's for such a short trip. What about for Florence-Rome? What train would be the least expensive that would drop us off at the main station?

Again, thanks to all who can help. This will help me immensely and I will be more confident navigating my way around Europe!


User currently offlineAznMadSci From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 3670 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2497 times:



Quoting Continental (Reply 6):
EuroStar Italia (ESI)

If you're traveling on EuroStar Italia, it's €15 on any route you take, which gives your a reserved seat. It's worth it to have a seat confirmation as those seats tend to fill up in between the journey. While you may be doing Venice-Milan-Florence, the seat you choose during Venice-Milan may be reserved for someone doing Milan-Florence and so you would have to move. Venice-Florence is a popular route, so those carriages do fill up in both 1st and 2nd class. If you didn't want to pay for the confirmation, you could take the regional, which could take longer but rather interesting to ride! If you do that, then use the schedules from trenitalia.it to get an idea of your journey. One word of advice, buy food in and around the train station, and not on the train!



The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5517 posts, RR: 17
Reply 8, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 2494 times:



Quoting AznMadSci (Reply 7):
If you didn't want to pay for the confirmation, you could take the regional, which could take longer but rather interesting to ride! If you do that, then use the schedules from trenitalia.it to get an idea of your journey. One word of advice, buy food in and around the train station, and not on the train!

I think this is what I'll do. It will be more interesting, and it may be a good idea to catch up on some sleep. Thanks for the advice, this will certainly help! I'll make sure not to buy food on the train. Since we'll be departing later due to EuroScam Italia, we should have enough time to go buy some food. My goal in Italy is to not get scammed/ripped off. I've been there twice before and this has happened, but not this time!  Smile


User currently offlineAznMadSci From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 3670 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 2444 times:



Quoting Continental (Reply 8):
EuroScam Italia

Hahaha! No worries mate! At times I tend to think those Eurail passes are scams too, and tend to check out individual prices of the trains I take. If the passes work out for me and I have to pay a small fee to get there faster and in style with a guaranteed seat, I would pay for it.

Safe travels!



The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
User currently offlineJwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 18
Reply 10, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 2439 times:

For the laptop, just get a security cable and lock it to something solid like the radiator for the central heating or a table or chair (do make sure it can't be slipped out of course).

For your cellphone, unless you have GSM it won't work in Europe. Buy a prepaid phone when you get here and text the number to the people you want to be able to reach you.
Problem is that not all prepaid plans work across borders and for some that do the cost can be prohibitive. Ask around (and if you're going to call a lot, some prepaid things are so cheap you can just buy a new phone for each country and throw the old one away).
If you have a GSM phone already, just buy a prepaid GSM card in each country.

Never travelled international by rail, so I can't help you there.



I wish I were flying
User currently offlineSW733 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6324 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 2378 times:



Quoting Continental (Reply 6):
I wanted to stay in one called Wombats, but I guess Easy Palace was way cheaper

You get what you pay for, my friend. Wombats is bad ass, I recommend it highly. Nice people, CLEAN rooms and CLEAN ensuite bathrooms, next to the train station, killer Turkish food around every corner, neat little bar where you can start (or end) the night chatting up people from every corner of the world. Cool little atrium in the middle with bean bag chairs, a glass roof. One of my favorite hostels, and I have stayed in hostels on 6 continents.

Quoting Continental (Reply 6):
Where can I make these reservations? Do I have to make them at the train station?

You may be able to make them online, I am not sure. That's how my buddy and I ended up in the hallways on that Berlin train - we got right of a DUB-SXF flight and hopped the train without a reservation in advance. My trick is, as soon as I arrive in a city (say, in your case, Florence), get off the train, go to the ticket counter or machine, and get a reservation for your outbound train. But that's just me...like I said, to me a seat where I want (open car vs. compartments, smoking vs. non, window vs. aisle) is worth a few bucks, but other people don't care. All personal preference.


User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5517 posts, RR: 17
Reply 12, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2336 times:

Thanks guys for more helpful advice.

How about the lockers at train stations? Are they trustworthy? They seem pretty cheap, and it'd be nice to put stuff in a locker once you get there so you can get situated.


User currently offlineNoUFO From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 7957 posts, RR: 12
Reply 13, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2304 times:

Generally, yes, they are thrustworthy. I believe your luggage is insured, and there's usually a cctv system installed. However, if were you, I would make sure nobody sees me putting a notebook in a locker.
I don't think lockers are cheap, but they are cheaper than the left luggage offices which - after numerous bomb threats - are about to replace lockers (in Germany). Small stations have neither lockers nor left luggage offices.



I support the right to arm bears
User currently offlineAlexEU From Serbia, joined Oct 2007, 1817 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 2200 times:



Quoting Continental (Thread starter):
3) I plan on bringing a cell phone with me so I can stay in contact with my father who can translate Croatian for me when I'm at my grandmother's house. Last time I was in Croatia, there was some ridiculous price ($10/minute or so) because it was international and we were using AT&T on a T-Mobile network. What if I brought an international phonecard with me? Would I be able to use that phonecard to avoid a huge fee?

Why don't you buy a local phonecard of the country you will be in? Usually they cost about 5-10 euros and that is much cheaper then using e.g. American or Croatian phonecard in Germany or other countries.


User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5517 posts, RR: 17
Reply 15, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days ago) and read 2124 times:



Quoting NoUFO (Reply 13):
Generally, yes, they are thrustworthy. I believe your luggage is insured, and there's usually a cctv system installed. However, if were you, I would make sure nobody sees me putting a notebook in a locker.
I don't think lockers are cheap, but they are cheaper than the left luggage offices which - after numerous bomb threats - are about to replace lockers (in Germany). Small stations have neither lockers nor left luggage offices.

Excellent, I'm sure I'll be using these when we have time before/after check-in.

Quoting AlexEU (Reply 14):

Why don't you buy a local phonecard of the country you will be in? Usually they cost about 5-10 euros and that is much cheaper then using e.g. American or Croatian phonecard in Germany or other countries.

I've decided to bring my phone only for emergency purposes. Even with a local phonecard, I'll have to pay those ridiculous fees by AT&T just to connect.


Another question:

If the input voltage on my electronics (laptop power brick, camera battery charger) have a range from 100-240V, I should be OK as long as I have an adapter plug, right?


User currently offlineBabybus From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (5 years 3 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2117 times:

Be careful where you go my friend.You have seen the film "Hostel",haven't you?

We're not all like that really. My top tip for travel is trust no one. Keep an eye on your stuff even if you're bunked up with the most gorgeous girl in the world or you've just met your brand new, best european buddy on the train.

Trust no one and you won't be disappointed or let down.


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