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The World by Train

Travel Forums General Talk The World by Train

1. Posted by ColmMac (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!


I'm thinking of traveling around the world. I have a romantic notion of not using any airplane on this trip. Probably impossible if you want to avoid the barrens of north russia, alaska etc and some wartorn countries. So maybe I will take the odd plane so as to see oz, SA etc. I'm thinking a year trip, starting in spain, across europe to (might fly moscow-india), through south asia, to oz, new zealand, over to SA and then across north africia.

This is going to be a bit down the road, obviously a lot of money would be required. Im just out of college, I have a contract job which I'm going to work for a year n a half or so and save as much as possible.

Has anyone every done something similar? And could advise me? Part of me wants to go without a plan, but thie is probably silly since visas would be required, flights to be booked etc. How much would such a trip cost? Is there some kind of travel pass I could get?? This is just a thought for now... all up in the air!

Would be glad of any good online resources for such a trip


2. Posted by ColmMac (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Ahhhhh... looking at google map. I think I want to travel twice around the world. There is so much to see in both hemispheres

3. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2012 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

That's a great deal of info to answer! Start with - it shows all types of surface travel. No one can answer the $ question for you - that's the investigation part you have to do. good luck

4. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

You can't do the whole thing by train, due to the lack of service in some places, but you can do a vast majority of it by train, a large portion of the rest by bus, and either than you can work hard to get boats to cross the ocean bits, or fly.

The Man in Seat 61 (as has been already mentioned) is an excellent resource. There you will find a couple of options to get to Asia via both North and South, depending on what you want to do. You might want to also check Travellerspoint's guide to the Trans-Siberian railway, which will give you some options from Moscow to Beijing or Vladistock.

For North America, you can cross most of it by rail. Check out Via Rail for Canada and Amtrak for the USA. From there (heading south), Mexico has trains (perhaps someone can provide a decent website, I don't know one), but beyond that in Central America, not too many trains. You'll find that buses are frequent, inexpensive and comfortable though. You'll have to find some sort of water or air transport from Panama into Columbia, as the Darrien Gap is not passable by land.

There are trains here and there in Africa and South America, but mostly you'll find yourself doing that by road. Australia has a few trains, including one that goes right cross the country, but I don't know details. Obviously getting between Australia and Asia (or anywhere else) would require some sort of air or water transport.

Hope this helps,
Enjoy your trip.

5. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi Colm,

You can definitely cover a lot of ground going by train. You might find that you will have to take a flight at some point, because logistically and maybe financially it's the easiest option to cross the oceans.

I absolutely LOVE train travel. It's my favourite way to travel, whereas I just dont enjoy flying these days at all. There are so many great reasons to travel by train:

1. You see the landscape changing as you travel, so you feel more connected with your surroundings and the country you are travelling in.

2. There's a really social aspect to train travel that just can't be matched on airplanes or buses. You can get up, walk around, get chatting to people in the dining car. Plus, I've always found people more relaxed on the train and more ready to open up and chat. Airplane travellers are for the most part tense, cranky, cramped by limited space, not to mention dehydrated and sleep deprived.

3. Generally, it's a cheap way to travel.

4. You just feel more like a real adventurer on a train, well I do anyway

5. They are less polluting to the environment than air travel.

I think you could take off without much of a plan. I mean, if you are going to need to get VISAs then you'll have to have a rough itinerary, but to the best of my knowledge it's relatively easy to organise VISAs on the road. I say leave home with as much savings as you can, get on a train and just go with the flow. You can always book flights on the road when you have more of a concrete idea of what your route will be.

As Greg mentioned, Seat61 is a fantastic site. I use it all the time. You can pretty much find out whatever info you are looking for on that - prices, timetables, routes, etc.

If you're under 26 you can avail of an ISIC Youth Card which will give you discounts on airfares etc. Also, if you plan to do a lot of train travel around Europe look into an Inter-rail Pass. There are various types considering which countries you plan visiting.

Trains are pretty much non-existent in South America. There are some, but the main way to travel the continent is by bus. Can't comment on Asia. Trains in the US and Canada are excellent and also one of the best ways to see these countries. Trans-Siberian in Russia is an obvious choice is youre looking at exploring remote Russia.

Two books to recommend for your travels are the following by Paul Theroux, both are about his train travels:

1. Riding the Iron Rooser - train travel through China
2. From Cairo to Capetown - train travel from North to South Africa.

They will definitely whet your appetite for your trip! :)

6. Posted by Honeythorn (Budding Member 3 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

hey man that sounds amazing, am trying to do it by foot, where are you starting from?