Rail Travel Holidays With Undiscovered Destinations

Why take the train?

As travellers we are all aware of the concerns about air travel and the impact that it has on the environment. And at Undiscovered Destinations that is the challenge we face. Should we be promoting trips and destinations that involve considerable amounts of flying? We do so because we need to stay mindful of the role that responsible tourism plays in the global economy and within individual communities. Tourism employs 1 in 10 people globally, and offers opportunities for the poor whose only assets are their culture, environments and ways of life, and for whom most industries are inaccessible. Tourism can also fund and justify protecting and enhancing the world’s cultural and natural diversity when there are often other burning priorities.

We know that for many of our destinations flying cannot be avoided. But we believe that for some of our trips, including many of our European destinations, taking the train to join the tour, rather than a flight, is a practical, affordable and most of all a very enjoyable alternative. Where rail is an option you will find further details and a sample cost in the dates and prices section of the tour. In addition to arranging rail travel from London we can provide advice and organise tickets to depart from other European cities.

Even flying in just one direction will have a very positive benefit on the environment. To compare the emissions for your next trip take a look at this easy to use emissions calculator - https://uic.org/ecopassenger.

To help with your planning here are some tips.

Our Top Rail Travel Tips

  • Travel light as you will be responsible for carrying your own luggage throughout the journey.
  • Travelling long distances by train is not for everyone, but with some careful planning and by keeping expectations realistic it can be great fun. If you are planning to use the train to join one of our tours, then consider the experience to be very much part of your overall holiday. 
  • Often you will be travelling on separate tickets, rather than on one ‘through’ ticket. Therefore allow plenty of time for connections, as onward tickets are unlikely to be accepted if you have missed your booked train. In the worst case scenario you may have no option but to purchase new tickets. Check with your travel insurance provider to see if such situations are covered.
  • If you have booked your rail travel with Undiscovered Destinations we will always do what we can to assist you in the event of any disruption to your journey. But in practise we will probably be limited in the help that we can offer. Therefore, travelling by train, which will always be without a guide, is generally more suited to those with some experience of independent travel overseas.
  • Fares quoted by Undiscovered Destinations are subject to change and will include a small administration fee of around £25.00 as we do not receive commission from the rail operators. We have purposely kept our fee as low as possible as we are keen to encourage as many of our clients as possible to consider taking the train.
  • We recommend that you book early in order to secure the lowest fares. Some trains can be booked up to 6 months ahead; others may only be bookable within a couple of months of departure. We can advise you further at the time of booking.
  • European trains vary considerably from modern daytime high speed services such as Eurostar, to older, slower overnight trains. In our experience we have found even the most basic trains to be perfectly acceptable. But be prepared. Travel with toilet roll and hand gel just in case. And to aid sleeping take some ear plugs and an eye mask.
  • On many trains food and drink can be purchased. On some trains you will find a full service restaurant car and on others just drinks and a few snacks served by the couchette or sleeping car attendant. It is always a good idea to be prepared especially on overnight journeys. Take some provisions with you; water, biscuits, fruit, perhaps some wine or beer (remember a bottle opener / corkscrew).
  • When choosing to travel on night trains the lowest fares include a berth in a shared couchette compartment (4 or 6 berths per compartment). Generally sexes are not segregated so you must sleep in your daytime clothes. Dress accordingly and perhaps change into a tracksuit or shorts once you are on the train to make yourself more comfortable for sleeping. Also bring a pair of flip flops or sandals to wear when walking about the train.
  • Consider upgrading your on train accommodation to a private sleeper compartment. But keep in mind that in our experience travelling in a private compartment means you will often lose much of the enjoyment of long distance rail travel and that is meeting your fellow passengers. Some of our most memorable trips have been spent sharing food or drinks with other passengers. The world over we have found people to be friendly and curious, especially when travelling by train. Take some postcards from your hometown to show where you live and have some printed photos of family or friends. These occasions are special moments that you are unlikely to encounter on a flight. It is the people that you meet along the way and the stunning scenery through which you pass that makes travelling by train such a joy.