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To Eurail or not?

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Joined: 11 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:34 pm    Post subject: To Eurail or not? Reply with quote

So I'll be heading to Spain this Summer and I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice. I'll have classes for 4 weeks and then I plan staying roughly 2 weeks after that to just have a nice jaunt around the place. I was looking into getting a Eurail pass cause I have no other idea of how to get around, but they are kinda pricey.... I was wanting to get one where the days don't have to consecutive so I could travel on some weekends that I'm in school and then I could use the rest up in my later adventure. Also, was if anyone just had any advice in general when traveling with no real itinerary in mind. Where to stay, things to do, places to eat, those sort of shenanigans.

Really, anything is appreciated. Just realized I have like 3 months left and I'm getting a little antsy since I have no real solid plans, other than a plane ticket and my classes.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't help you with the Eurail question, but I can offer some general travel advice.

I, personally, am a very cautious (read: paranoid) traveler. I always check the bus routes multiple times, and try to plan for multiple routes as well. Never depend on one bus or train, especially if you have a deadline.

Also, make sure you know how to read maps, and know the walking directions to everywhere you have to go. I always write down corner-by-corner directions so that I don't forget where I'm going. If it's complicated or confusing, print out a map and bring it with you.

Don't depend on GPS. That banks on you knowing where you want to go, and sometimes the information is wrong or out of date.

And most of all, plan ahead. Even if it's only a day in advance, make sure you select options of things to do and places to go, and know how to get there for each one. Then, when you feel like doing someting impulsive, you can pick a prepared trip and not have to worry about scrambling for a once-a-day train you didn't know about.

As a bonus, not related to travel: language. You know Spanish, but I have found in my own experience that speaking with natives also requires advance planning. I try to think about everything I might need or want to say (mostly questions) and translate them ahead of time, so that when I DO need to speak, I'm not left grasping after words and looking like an idiot foreigner (even if I am).

Hope that helps! Good luck, and enjoy your adventure!
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fortunately, I can give advice on a Eurail pass. I travelled with Interrail last summer and it was a transportation nightmare. We were unprepared for the journeys we had to book in advance, so we got stuck in Lyon for a night with nowhere to stay. Couchsurfing came to our rescue, but I'll get to that later. If you're only planning to stay in Spain look for monthly or seasonal passes with national rail companies. Most will be pretty reasonable and have special rates for students. There will be a pass for unlimited travel within the time you're there but you should also look into the more restricted passes if money is an issue (travelling off-peak can be a real money-saver).

You mentioned Couchsurfing in the today thread. My advice is to follow your gut. We had the best experience with a lovely couple who gave us a bed and a meal with two hours' notice. Most of the people on there (myself included!) are just awesome people who want to pay it forwards and do a favour for a fellow traveller. As with anything though there will be some dodgy characters. Every couchsurfer is encouraged to give a detailed profile and you can request only the people you trust (only women, only people with kids, etc.) Look at profiles, look at what people are saying and you will be fine.

Plan well, follow your gut if it tells you something is wrong, and have an amazing time!
He who does not eat cheese will go mad. ~ French proverb.

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