When deciding how to travel around Europe we opted for trains for a few reasons, though number 1 was probably our biggest reason:
- it saves time when you have to feed and change baby! (no stopping on the side of the road...)
- space (okay, so trains are a bit crammed, but we were able to stand and rock Baby K to sleep a few times - thanks to our Baby Bjorn carrier! But also, Baby K had some space to move around and bop around and spend some of her energy instead of being confined to a car seat
- ease and accessibility
- no navigating on the fly
From there we spent time checking out various train websites: Trenitalia (though portions are in Italian, it is reasonably easy to figure out what everything says), TVG, the Eurostar, and Southern. We were able to pre-book most of our train trips, except for the regional trains (ex. Pompeii to Paestum and Pisa to Venice were considered "regional", but in both of those cases we were able to find the schedule ahead of time and plan accordingly. We did not have any problem getting seats on those trips).
Sadly, while in Bern we discovered that France had "shutdown" for a few days due to striking transportation workers. We were offered tickets on a "standing room only" train to Paris, which would have taken 6 hours. Um, with a 5 month old? No thanks. We unfortunately at that point stopped our train journey and opted for a flight straight to England :( We'll go back to France one day...
A few warnings and tips...
Pre-booking trains - depending how far in advance you book, and the time of day your travel at times, you can score some FANTASTIC deals, even on the high-speed trains in Italy (for example, our Naples to Rome tickets cost us 38.00 euros for both of us, while our Rome to Naples tickets cost 18.00 euros for both). However, if you're booking the "economy" tickets, remember you won't get reimbursed for your tickets if you miss you train or the train gets cancelled due to a strike (I'm not bitter at all ;)) This is the risk of "saving" money upfront. You have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.
Train Stations - some cities have more than one train station! Be careful which one you're booking to, for example Pisa has "Pisa Centrale" and "Pisa S. Rossore". It depends what you need, where you're staying, etc as to which is better for you - Pisa Centrale has a "Left Luggage" option and busses that run to the Tower, while Pisa S. Rossore is closer to the Tower. Depending on your schedule and your start point and destination while travelling, one station might be more accessible than the other too. Make sure to check the map and the schedules!
Train travel between Naples, Herculaneum (Ercolano) and Pompeii - we chose to use the
Curious about more travel tips? Check out the rest of my series!