Categories: Travel Tips

Improve your European train experience

by Carol Busch - Thursday, October 6, 2022 trains leaving Amsterdam station

When you book a tour with ExperiencePlus! you gain access to more travel planning information than you could ever imagine. In fact, you don’t even have to book a tour to access pages of information on planning your next trip to Europe. Our website is a travel planning treasure trove. We even break information down by country. 

When you book a Classic, Expedition, or Bike and Boat tour with ExperiencePlus!, you also have access to our traveler services, which we started providing in 2011.* Services include assisting with ground transportation to and from our starting and ending hotels, as well as booking extra hotel nights at tour hotels at either end of your tour – basically, facilitating your arrival and departure experience on either end of your tour.

For airfare planning we work with Exito Travel. Once you know your schedule, reach out to us and we will submit a request to Exito. You’ll be paired with an agent who generates itineraries for your consideration. You can look over options and pricing, but there’s no obligation to buy.

How do you get plugged into these services? Nadine from our office in Fort Collins, Colorado, emails every traveler who books a qualifying tour to let them know how she can help. 

In the coming months we’ll take a deep dive into what this actually means, as well as direct you to travel planning resources you may have not known existed on our website.

First up: Improve your European train experience.

Trains are among the most common way to arrive at or depart from an ExperiencePlus! tour. You’ll know if this form of transportation is an option by checking out the Travel Information tab on your tour’s webpage, or by downloading the tour’s PDF packet.

This single tab has some of the most important and useful information you need for making travel plans. You’ll find it in the menu bar under the tour description and departures. Here’s what it looks like:

 

Please note: you will find the same information beginning on Page 3 of any tour itinerary PDF packet that is downloaded from our website.

Travelling by train is a quintessential European experience that warrants a bit of study and preparation because not all trains are equal. Things to think about: will you be traveling from one country to another or are you traveling within a country? Do you need a national train or a regional train? Do you need to make a seat reservation or can you purchase a ticket at the train station? Every tour’s arrival and departure information will simplify this decision tree for you – and point you to the appropriate online resource for taking the next step.

For instance, “Arrival Information” for the Best of Provence specifies the following:

Great. So you need you need to take a train to get to the start of the tour. Now what? How about spending 10 minutes reviewing Nadine’s FAQ on train travel/ticket purchasing, “On Track with Your Train Tickets?” The first thing you’ll learn is that ExperiencePlus! traveler services includes assistance with train tickets. What kind of assistance?

“I used to spend more time purchasing tickets for people,” Nadine says. “But TrainLine – a European train ticket booking website and app – has made it so much easier for travelers to get what they need that in the end it is easier for them to look at that and do it themselves.”

Before TrainLine, Nadine would often go to a railway site, take screen shots of timetables, book seats and forward the tickets.

“Now I can email customers a direct link to search results for a specific route and they can book their ticket online,” she says. “If anyone is super nervous about making an online purchase, I’ll suggest we do it together over the phone. Sometimes people just need to talk through the process with another person so that maybe the next time they’ll feel empowered to do it themselves.”

On Track with Your Train Tickets? will help you understand if you should purchase tickets in advance, how to read train schedules, if you should get a first- or second-class ticket, and other bits of advice on travelling successfully by train, such as, do I have to validate my e-ticket? (No!)

Another great resource for learning the ins and outs of European train travel is the TrainLine support dashboard which features dozens of articles on how to purchase and use TrainLine tickets. You can drill down further into the site for links to European train companies, train or bus transfers from European airports, train stations across Europe, and much more.

Whether you need to ride a train 45 minutes or 4.5 hours to get to or from your bike tour, don’t let unfamiliarity or uncertainty with how to make it happen keep you from making plans sooner than later. And don’t forget, we’re here if you need a helping hand.

*Explorer tour pricing does not include traveler services.

Carol Busch - Carol had the great fortune to develop her passion for bicycle travel in the late 1990s when she first worked for ExperiencePlus! as a marketing associate, tour guide, and tour developer. Convinced she needed to find ‘more purposeful’ work, she went back to graduate school and spent the next two decades working in non-profit and higher education marketing and communications. Carol returned to ExperiencePlus! in 2021 as Sales and Marketing Manager. Whether mountain biking, backcountry skiing, trail running, fly fishing, or exploring gravel roads, Carol is continually in pursuit of new adventure.

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