Planning on a Europe backpacking trip hopefully starting in March from Dublin, Ireland and then I would like to backpack Europe from there hopefully for 2-3 months! Would rather not do it alone, so if anyone is interested in meeting up or planning something let me know! I am a 32 year old female from the United States and I am working hard to save up $ for this trip right now. I already have a trip booked to Ireland in March, so that is why I am planning that as my starting point. Am also looking for a travel route via Eurail that will get me as many countries as possible in that amount of time and not sure of the best possible route. Any advice is appreciated. I also would like to go from Europe to Russia and possibly do the TranSiberian Railway down to China and then on to Thailand and then back home to the United States. Join me!
You have a lot of choices for routes to take in Europe as there are 47 countries! Maybe narrowing it down a bit can help people advise you better on the matter.
Generally Eurail is only useful in European countries in the West of the continent. Many countries such as UK, Germany and France require trains to be booked in advance otherwise they become very expensive. Eurail is good for this reason but otherwise it ends up costing you more, depending on your route of course.
Eastern European countries are much cheaper and none of them have changing prices on trains and buses (i.e. it's the same if you book a ticket 20 minutes ahead as it would 20 days ahead). Though right now the US Dollar to Euro is at quite a good exchange rate so Western Europe won't be as pricy as per usual.
It all really depends as to what you're looking for on your trip because you can find anything you want in Europe!
And traveling from Europe to Russia, is maybe best to do via a flight as it's not only a long distance by train/bus but you have a couple of obstacles to overcome. Eastern Ukraine isn't particularly safe right now and the transit visa through Belarus is very pricy. You could alternatively go through the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) to St Petersburg, if you didn't want to fly.
First of all, you're going to need to narrow down Europe to a few specific locations. Once you've established if you'll be traveling for two or three months, and once you've settled on a few places, (or at least some preferences and interests - users of the forum will be happy to help with destination suggestions) tracing a route will become much easier.
As for Eurail, you could either choose the Select Pass, which limits your options to 4 neighboring countries, or go for the Global Pass, where you have access to pretty much all of Europe. If you do go for the Global Pass, make sure you don't overcrowd your itinerary!
I did a similar trip earlier this year, traveling from Europe to Asia, then taking the Trans-Mongolian from Beijing to Moscow; and returning to the U.S. from Europe. I don't recommend buying a Eurail pass, as that can be expensive. Try a mix of both rail and flights. You'll find that some airfares in Europe will be cheaper than train tickets, even if rail discounts are available. You'll get there faster; and save money. One-way airfares from Europe to Asia are reasonable, particularly if flying from certain cities, such as Budapest and Moscow. It's better to take the Trans-Mongolian from Beijing to Moscow, as you will be able to see Lake Baikal during the day. Tickets are easy to get. You can buy them in the U.S. from the China International Travel Service office in California. It has a Web site. There's no problem in getting a ticket. China now offers U.S. citizens 10-year multiple-entry visas. Russia offers three-year multiple-entry visas. Better get your Russian visa this year, as that country already has begun tightening visa requirements in some countries, such as Britain and Denmark. Hope this helps.
[ Edit: Edited on 30-Sep-2015, at 07:19 by berner256 ]
Ok, thank you! @ Berner256 that helped a lot! Thank you! I am definitely working on narrowing down my Europe countries, easier said than done, haha. But thanks for the replies and the info!
My pleasure. The U.S. dollar is strong currently, helping your travel budget. If you're not pressed for time, I'd advise extending your trip by a month or so, particularly if you also want to include Asia. May is an excellent time to take the Trans-Mongolian, as it's springtime in Russia.
When researching flights, check this Web site: http://www.kayak.com/explore/
For trains: http://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml
Recommend that you concentrate on one or two European regions before going to Asia and returning to Europe in the spring. Southern might be warmer than northern climes in March and April. Happy trails!