Thankfully the Internet has changed all that, and it is possible to set a schedule, buy tickets, and make reservations all well in advance of your journey, and with most countries in Europe now mimicking the airlines by offering cheaper advanced fares, it's not only easier to plan in advance, but cheaper as well. Here are a few of my "go to" websites for trip planning, along with some other websites I tend to check before travel to Europe:
- Raileurope.com: A 'must have' for anyone planning to ride trains in Europe. Whether you are looking to purchase Eurail passes or just need a ticket to take the Chunnel train from London to Brussels, this website has it all. And with regards to Eurail passes, it's a hard bargain to beat, especially if you are traveling with another individual. From 1 to 28 countries, there is a pass for every kind of travel.
- Railway sites of individual countries: Pretty much every nation in Europe now has an English version of their national railways' website, many of which are secure and offer the ability to make reservations and purchase tickets. Here are a few of the most popular (click on the country to go to their national railways website):
- Rick Steves' Europe: Rick Steves, who hosts a travel show on PBS, has lots of excellent information on travel to Europe, on everything from how to pack to suggestions on hotels, side trips, getting through cities and countries, and, of course, train travel.
- Traintraveling.com: This website, though a little dated, features a lot of information on historic railway lines by country. It's a good place to start when you have a destination in mind, maybe because of an upcoming business trip, but have no idea what train-related opportunities there are nearby.