Question

In the planning stages for October trip

  • 5 August 2022
  • 6 replies
  • 64 views

Good day all. I am just in the planning stages for an October birthday trip (from Canada, first time to Europe) and these issues with the rail system are quite concerning.  We plan to go via Amsterdam and stop in Brussels, Bruges and on to Paris.  Do I need to book the trains this far out?  And how do you manage issues with travel?  I would like a fairly stress-free trip, but now I wonder if that is possible with these train issues.   So, is two months out enough time to book trains, sight-seeing tickets etc?  I haven’t booked my flights yet so have time to consider other destinations as well.  Is it worth going to Europe?


6 replies

Userlevel 4
Badge +4

Speaking from a strictly personal point of view:

If you are an adventurous sort of person and have an adaptive approach to your holiday then please feel free to come over and have a great time.

If however you are one who likes everything just so and dislikes disruption to your plans then maybe you would be better on an organised tour.

Of course there are disruptions, but with such a diverse and comprehensive network there is always an alternative approach and with the flexibility of a global pass costs are minimal.

The community is a focal point for those who have issues but many pass users have a trouble free experience. 

Using a Global pass can be a little confusing, especially the strange relationship between reservations and “tickets”. However once understood (with the help if needed from the community) you. can easily and cheaply cross Europe from end to end.

The strange relationship with global passes is that, unlike when you buy a ticket for busy trains with included reservations, your pass only covers the train fare. Any reservations are separately acquired.

Once you have decided to use a pass you can start the reservation process. Reservations are usually relatively cheap and are worth getting fairly early for your key journeys, but October is not a busy period so there should be few problems. If you change your plans some reservations are refundable, but don't assume so.

Unlike North America and Canada distances are relatively small and there is a real spiders web of rail lines. The cities you suggest are well connected and there are plenty of trains and alternative routings.

You can always mock up an itinerary using an app such as the Eurail train times planner for your planned trip. It will show the trains that require a reservation.

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

For THIS trip alone-no other ones, a pass is bad value and not needed. Just buy either locally or advance via a neatly working site.

Ams-BE: book at least 1 week advance for lower price via NS-international. Use the hourly slightly slower local BeNeLux train, not the Thalys. Can use any of those trains that day, not a specific one. Can even break en route to admire f.e. the railway cathedral in Antwerpen.

Br->BR; just buy from machine on the day itself-2-3 trains/hr in 55 mins. IF you are ju/se-nior, then there are much discounted single return fares.

Br-Paris: choose-try to avoid that Thalys (superfast trains NL-BE-FR): use again local train-change Kortrijk-to LILLE (first main stop in FR)-order online via b-europe.

Use hourly French SNCF TGV LIlle (other station-10 mins walk) to Paris: via connect SNCF-this pays to do advance on a more quiet mid-day time, but ticket tied to that day/train then.

More info and comforting advice: seat61.com

Speaking from a strictly personal point of view:

If you are an adventurous sort of person and have an adaptive approach to your holiday then please feel free to come over and have a great time.

If however you are one who likes everything just so and dislikes disruption to your plans then maybe you would be better on an organised tour.

Of course there are disruptions, but with such a diverse and comprehensive network there is always an alternative approach and with the flexibility of a global pass costs are minimal.

The community is a focal point for those who have issues but many pass users have a trouble free experience. 

Using a Global pass can be a little confusing, especially the strange relationship between reservations and “tickets”. However once understood (with the help if needed from the community) you. can easily and cheaply cross Europe from end to end.

The strange relationship with global passes is that, unlike when you buy a ticket for busy trains with included reservations, your pass only covers the train fare. Any reservations are separately acquired.

Once you have decided to use a pass you can start the reservation process. Reservations are usually relatively cheap and are worth getting fairly early for your key journeys, but October is not a busy period so there should be few problems. If you change your plans some reservations are refundable, but don't assume so.

Unlike North America and Canada distances are relatively small and there is a real spiders web of rail lines. The cities you suggest are well connected and there are plenty of trains and alternative routings.

You can always mock up an itinerary using an app such as the Eurail train times planner for your planned trip. It will show the trains that require a reservation.

 

Thank you! You’ve made me feel much better. I don’t mind delays but if we lose full days or if trains stop running it might make me a bit anxious. I don’t want to be paying for hotels in two different cities if we don’t make our destination. Sigh… thank you for letting me know that a ticket and a reservation are not the same. I would have messed that up for sure. I look forward to seeing a little bit of Europe very soon!
 

For THIS trip alone-no other ones, a pass is bad value and not needed. Just buy either locally or advance via a neatly working site.

Ams-BE: book at least 1 week advance for lower price via NS-international. Use the hourly slightly slower local BeNeLux train, not the Thalys. Can use any of those trains that day, not a specific one. Can even break en route to admire f.e. the railway cathedral in Antwerpen.

Br->BR; just buy from machine on the day itself-2-3 trains/hr in 55 mins. IF you are ju/se-nior, then there are much discounted single return fares.

Br-Paris: choose-try to avoid that Thalys (superfast trains NL-BE-FR): use again local train-change Kortrijk-to LILLE (first main stop in FR)-order online via b-europe.

Use hourly French SNCF TGV LIlle (other station-10 mins walk) to Paris: via connect SNCF-this pays to do advance on a more quiet mid-day time, but ticket tied to that day/train then.

More info and comforting advice: seat61.com

Thank you! I took a screen shot of this advice so I can take the time to really figure out all the different options you’ve given me. Can I ask why we would take the slower train to Paris versus the super fast one? 

Userlevel 2

@Rhonda Lemoine 

Do you plan to take more trains to visit other countries, or only plan to visit the Netherlands, Belgium and France/Paris? mcadv options are much cheaper if you buy it a bit in advance, in stead of buying eurail/interrail. If you only stay in those regions, don’t buy an interrail!

Tickets in october for long-distance trains and high-speed trains, especially during the work week can be quite cheap! Overal cheaper then Interrail. 

You will still take a super fast train via mcadv option (Bruges-Kortrijk-Lille-Paris), but from Lille instead of Brussels ;). Time wise, it will be more or less the same.

Interrail/EU-rail reservations and tickets in general on Thalys are quite expensive and the train is usually very busy! A lot of Belgians circumvent this by travelling via Lille to the rest of France, it’s a real insider tip ;).

The ordinary non-international TGV “InOui”-trains from the French Railways (SNCF) have cheaper fares, and eurail/interrail reservation fares. Especially off the high-season.

If you plan to visit more countries than NL, BE, and FR an Eurail/interrailpass start to really pay off, especially if you travel in Central Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria,...). Then you don’t really need reservations, especially off-high season, in October.

I hope you enjoy your trip!

Thank you!! I appreciate the insider tips!!

Reply