Travel is a beautiful thing, but it comes with its drawbacks. One of the more frustrating parts about traveling is the time it takes to, well, travel. If you’re making a trip to Europe, you’re most likely going to be on trains a lot. They are the best way to get around, but they can take many hours to get you where you need to go.
Another negative of travel is the cost. While you can cut your expenses in a lot of areas, there is still going to be a hefty price tag for lodging. Even the most bare-bones hotels and Air BNB’s can be hundreds of dollars per night.
Here’s how you kill two birds with one stone: Night trains. When you choose night travel, you don’t have to pay for expensive hotels. Instead, your lodging and your transit expenses are one and the same. Second, you save time. Whenever you take a long trip, you always lose a few days to travel. Every time you change location, you spend a significant amount of time getting there and getting settled. With a night train, your transportation time is really not time spent at all. You need to sleep at night, so why not travel while you’re doing it?
You have two basic options: Couchettes and private sleepers. A couchette is essentially the hostel of night train travel. For around 25 euros, you can sleep in a shared room with 4-6 beds. If you’re a traveler with a bit more to spend, definitely go with a private sleeper. You can get a room to yourself for more privacy and safety. This will cost around 50-150 euros.
Night Train Travel Tips
Get on the right train: It sounds simple, but somewhere, right now, an excited traveler is getting on the wrong train. Don’t get caught in this situation. Arrive early and be extra careful about which train you are boarding.
Always make a reservation: Unlike regular trains, night trains generally do not allow last minute ticket sales. Be sure to reserve your spot in advance.
Charge up before you leave: If you’re lucky, your sleeper will have power outlets, but often, they do not. Don’t board your train with a dead phone expecting to charge it overnight.
Schedule weeks in advance: Night travel is getting more and more popular, and the most popular trips often sell out days or weeks before their scheduled departure. To ensure your spot, don’t hesitate to make your reservation.
Avoid connections: Some night trains come with connections that need to be made in the middle of the night. This defeats the purpose of traveling by night. If you’re going to have to wake up at 2:00 AM to pack up your stuff, you’re better off traveling by day.
Depending on where you are and where you’re headed, you’ll need to choose a provider. Some of the best are Berlin Night Express, EuroNight Ister, Hellas Express, SJ, Thello, and Trenhotel.
When To Fly Instead
As we discussed above, if you are making a connection in the middle of the night, travel by day train or take a flight. Another factor that can push you towards flying is travel time. If your train is going to take over 16 hours, that is a long and slow trip even if you sleep through half of it. For very long trips, you may be more comfortable with a quick flight.
To save time, save money, and have a unique experience, consider traveling by night train. With the help of our guide, you can navigate Europe like a pro.