Travel Hacks for Road Trips

Travel Hacks for Road Trips

Reading Time: 7 minutes

No matter if you are traveling with children, alone, or just with your furry friend – Road Trips can either be Hell on Earth; or a vacation in and of themselves. So after driving all over the Western United States for most of my life, here are a few Travel Hacks for Road Trips I highly recommend following when planning your own Road Trip at home or abroad.

Download Road Trippers

This is a fantastic app for your road trip, and can also be accessed online to help plan your vacation on the road. I first found and utilized this when taking a Road Trip from Dallas Texas to Nauvoo Illinois. I was going to be traveling through a bunch of open fields. After planning out my route I explored all the spots along the road that had a good rating and found this gem in the middle of nowhere! It is in the Spinach Capital of the United States. A statue of the spinach-eating machine himself has his own little garden and fountain. This also happens to be across from the Police Station, so you have ample entertainment for all!

This app and website are a fantastic way to make those 12 hour drives a little more bearable on the road. From a medical standpoint, it also gives you an excuse to get out of the car every few hours to walk around. People who sit and travel long distances can have swollen legs and blood clots at times as well if they do not walk around sufficiently.

How to stay awake while driving

Get enough rest the night before

Doing this will help you be more alert on the road and less prone to falling asleep at the wheel.

IF YOU ARE TIRED AND START TO LOSE CONCENTRATION THAT IS THE FIRST SIGN YOU ARE AT RISK FOR FALLING ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.

Pull into a gas station and take a power nap.

I have done this a few times in the past, where I pull into a busy gas station and take a 15-20 min nap. This always helps me feel more refreshed.

Avoid sugary foods or high carbohydrate content as your snack.

When you eat high carbohydrate and high sugar content foods, it starts a vicious cycle of fatigue. Why? Well, you eat that doughnut or candy, your body sees it as too much sugar, so it releases insulin and then drops your blood sugar again. Then you become very sleepy or hungry again, starting the cycle over. I try to avoid sugary foods whenever driving for this reason.

Keep Cool

When I get warm I tend to fall asleep much easier. It is more comfortable to be warm, but I would rather have cold toes and arms before risking crashing my car and killing someone else.

Audiobooks

This is my favorite way to stay awake. Imagine this like the old radios back in the day that would tell the cowboy stories to the children. The children would be so enthralled by the battles and day to day explanations because they didn’t have TV, this was their entertainment.

Audiobooks typically have quality actors and actresses that are able to do multiple accents, voices, and inflections to keep the listener engaged. Yes, some of the audiobooks are entirely too boring and drab to listen to on the road, but there are many that are not.

I personally have signed up for Amazon’s Audible Book subscription for $14.95 per month. I am an affiliate with them, but I have never been more grateful for the positive entertainment value it provides and now listen to them on the way to and from work all the time.

Podcasts

This is something my flatmate is really into. She has several Podcasts that she listens to on a daily basis to and from work. I think this could also work for road trips as well, you may just need to download the podcasts to your mobile device prior to starting your trip.

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Caffeine

If all else fails, just start swigging Caffeine. Think of all those boring meetings from work you have survived on the sweet nectar of the Gods.

Travel with a friend:

Switching off while driving is really important while on the long road trips and stretches of the road.

Stretches and Facial exercises:

This is an odd one, but I start stretching my legs, toes, fingers, neck, back arms etc…. It keeps your heart rate slightly more elevated than at baseline, thus increasing blood flow to your brain and keeping you refreshed.

Facial exercises also help to keep me awake at the wheel. I open and close my mouth as hard as a can, wiggle my jaw side to side, see how many animal sounds I can make with my tongue etc….

Check road conditions and weather conditions

With the age of the internet came the ability to check your road conditions prior to starting your journey. There have been several instances that I wish I would have, and others where I didn’t and wish I would have.

There was one instance where I didn’t want to leave my parents house to drive back to Las Vegas and did not look at road conditions. I ended up leaving the house when it first started to snow, and by the time I hit Cedar City Utah, I was in a complete blizzard. Traveling at 25 mph on the freeway because of road conditions, and was nearly hit by a snow plow.

Organizing the car

This is paramount for safety while driving. The less distracted you are on the road, the better off and safer you will be.

I will put all the luggage in the very back of the car, the cooler in the middle of the back seat where it is easy for your friend to reach if needed. If you are traveling alone, set up your ‘snack bag’ where you can easily reach it.

Wear sandals

Make sure you have Sunglasses to help with Glare.

If you are driving at night, turn down the dashboard lights. This will help your eyes not feel as tired from trying to adjust to the brightness of the dashboard vs the road.

Have your music or audible book playing before you put the car in drive.

Garbage bag, paper towels, and Kleenex should also be nearby where you don’t have to bend over, reach, or stretch to access them.

Check Your Car for Maintenance

Before you pack anything in the car, make sure your spare tire is filled up and in good condition.

Have a small gas can handy, just in case you miss an exit and the next gas station or turn around isn’t for another 50 miles and you are on empty.

Make sure you check your tire pressure after everything is loaded and in the car.

Change your oil, cabin filter, and engine filter before you go. This will help with gas mileage in your car.

Have your local mechanic esure all fluids are topped off, and the washer fluid is the appropriate one for the area you are traveling to.

I once was driving from Las Vegas to Utah in the snow and went to use my windshield wiper fluid and it froze on my windshield. I had to do an ACE Ventura head out the window to drive to the next town to get it fixed. They had to thaw out the windshield wiper lines with a hairdryer and vinegar, then unplug them. This really cut into my total driving time and was a major stressor. So mention to your mechanic if you find you will be driving to different climates and what they suggest for those areas.

Plan for Gas Stops

Don’t push the car to the point the gas light comes on! I always make a rule for myself that should I take a long road trip where I have never been before I never let the tank get down past 1/4 tank. Even a 1/4 tank is pushing it for me, I typically will fill up at 1/2 tank because I know I will be able to drive for several hours to the next gas station.

Get On The Road Again

Road trips can be a fantastic way to make bonds with friends, and see new destinations. It is important to plan, stay safe and stay awake on the road. There are over 100,000 car accidents per year from people falling asleep at the wheel in the United States. Make sure you know your own limits on when you need a break, even if it is just a mental break. There are plenty of unique things you can see on the road, not every place has to be Instagram worthy. The best adventures will always be the locations that make you feel more fulfilled and productive in your daily life, spark your creativity or help you create a more meaningful connection.

 Happy Travels, Happy Tales & See You On The Flip Side.


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Kinderdijk Windmills : A UNESCO Heritage Site

Kinderdijk Windmills : A UNESCO Heritage Site

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Kinderdijk Windmills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated in the Alblasserwaard dry land between the juncture of the Lek and Noord River. This peaceful fast-moving Waterland was the perfect place for creating the first clean energy machines. Built to drain water from these low lying lands that would often flood when tides came in too strong. During the middle ages, this land would frequently flood.

Kinderdijk Windmills,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Culture Trekking in the Netherlands

The Deadly Flood of 1421 In the Netherlands:

Many people migrated into this area due to the fertile lands, and the fast-growing trade city. It was November of 1421 when anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 people died in one of the worst floods in world history. A combination of a storm, strong tidal surge, with a harsh Northernly wind – pushed the water upriver causing the dikes to break.

It took several days to be able to get help into the area due to the severity of the flooding. When help did arrive, there were men, women, children, animals and all sorts of debri floating in the waters of this ancient city.
If you visit the Rijksmuseum you will find a fantastic art piece depicting the deadly scene.

The Solution:

With trade and the East India Company on the rise, the Dutch did what they do best….invented the Windmill. These massive engineering wonders were utilized to pump water from the low lying fields to the higher ground allowing it to drain back into the ocean.

Kinderdijk Windmills,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Culture Trekking in the Netherlands

How they work:

Wind hydraulics, power these clean energy plants keeping their caretakers on their toes. They were required to man the sails, run the mills when the wind blew….which could be any time of day or night.  Imagine if your work schedule would rely on the wind. It gives a whole new meaning to ‘where ever the wind blows’. If you visit one of the mills, be sure to ask a staff member of a tour of the place.

Kinderdijk Windmills,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Here you will see all the inner workings of how the Dutch keep dry by utilizing: polders, high and low-lying drainage and transport channels for superfluous polder water, embankments and dikes, 19 drainage mills, 3 pumping stations, 2 discharge sluices and 2 Water Board Assembly Houses..and small boats to ferry between it all to say hello to the neighbors.

An Abandoned Masterpiece:

In the 1950’s they fell into disrepair as steam started to replace the wind energy. Then the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science who provided 2.5 million Euros to help restore and repair 11 of the 19 windmills in 2008.

Kinderdijk Windmills,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Culture Trekking in the Netherlands

It costs about $15,000 per year to maintain these windmills, and those who live in them have committed to doing this. Each Kinderdijk Windmill resident has to pass a rigorous exam on weather patterns and specific windmill engineering.

Don’t miss out on this:

Be sure to visit the Mill Museums, where one of the mills still holds the unique furniture and belongings of one of the families that occupied it.

If you take the Ferry between the Mills, the cute volunteers will let you know when they will be coming back to pick you up. I really think these cute old guys just like driving the boat back and forth and meeting all the different visitors. While on the Ferry, if you look down the largest canal you may spot a baby basket.

The legend is, that when the flood back in the 17th century happened, the people went to look for survivors. What they found was a large baby basket with a cat running back and forth on the top keeping it stable. (Insert Awwweee!) After the baby was found inside the basket, and the cat saved from an unwanted bath – the area was named Kinderdijk…. it means ‘children’s dike’

The Oldest City in the Netherlands:

Dordrecht is nearby and a must see if you love imagining how people use to live. You can see the city and how old it is with houses tilting sideways. Very few tourists here with some of the loveliest scenes. My camera was hungry to fill it’s SD card to save and cherish these images.

Dordrecht

Entrance fees, costs, and other tidbits:

Be careful where you buy your ticket and make sure it is from a reputable site. I made the mistake of going for a cheaper option, and then when I arrived at the museums, it was counterfeit off the internet.

Kinderdijk Windmills,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Culture Trekking in the Netherlands

Getting to the Kinderdijk Windmills:

The trip here is not too daunting, and only a one hour 16 min train and bus ride. This is starting from Amsterdam Centraal Train Station to the quaint bus stop in the little town of Kinderdijk right between Dordrecht and Rotterdam.

Kinderdijk Windmills,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Culture Trekking in the Netherlands

This trip will cost you roughly $14 American Dollars unless you get an EURail pass, then you will just need to pay for the bus ride from the train station to Dordrecht. For specific times and ways to get to Kinderdijk, visit Rome2Rio.com and enter your location.

In Summary:

Being of Dutch Heritage myself, knowing my Great Grandfather helped build the first Flour Mill in Utah, gave me so much pride seeing these Windmills.  I love supporting anything that can provide clean energy and protect our air and oceans. Having the UNESCO Heritage Foundation name Kinderdijk a place worth preserving is reason enough to visit.

Kinderdijk Windmills,  a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Don’t forget to take the Ferry to each of the informative and detailed Mill Museums. If I were to choose between Zannse Schans and Kinderdijk, I would likely choose Kinderdijk. The reason behind this is you get to see the Windmills as they were meant to be used, and not just as a tourist trap to take pretty pictures. So if you have an extra hour to take a bus/train ride to Kinderdijk, I would highly suggest it.


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Unique Things to do in Dallas Texas (from a Local)

Unique Things to do in Dallas Texas (from a Local)

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Dallas is a great place to visit, with food being the center of this southern culture. When I lived there, the day that the Dallas Cowboys were playing you could smell BBQ smoke in the air. Even if you aren’t a football fan, there is till plenty of Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas.

Football games

As I mentioned before, you MUST attend some type of football game to experience the culture. While Football games in Texas are not exactly a unique thing to do on the whole, but until you have been to a TEXAS game…..you really have no idea what a real game is. The tailgate parties are……well…..off the chain (as some would put it). The fans are either avid (and sometimes rabid) Cowboys fans. Every morning I would walk into work, and if you wanted to start a heated discussion to wake the office up you just had to say loudly, “How ’bout dem Cowboys”? Everyone has an opinion, and you don’t even need to watch Television with how excited people get about this.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

There are also plenty of visiting games, concerts, events that happen at or near the AT&T Stadium. I was able to go with my Dad to the NCAA championship and show off his giant flag, which he does for these events. Yes, yes I know he has the coolest job in the world. He has been to NCAA Basketball games, World Series Games, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Superbowl and so many more. I have stood on countless football and baseball fields with him while he puts his creative outlet onto the national stage.

This particular football game had so much energy from the crowd, the tailgate party etc… were second to none in my book. It is definitely true when people say, “Everything is bigger in Texas”, their football games are no exception and why I included it in these Unique things to do in Dallas Texas.

Dallas Arboretum

With more than 1 million visitors a year to this 66 acres of carefully curated botanical paradise, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Dallas Arboretum. When I entered the gates, I didn’t know what to expect, but it reminded me of the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Each season, they change the gardens just a little bit to match the season.

It is open year-round and also has a children’s garden next to it that is sure to wear out your kiddos so you can enjoy the foodie paradise of Dallas Texas. If you are there during the summer, make sure to purchase a season concert ticket. The concerts they host here are highly entertaining. The people who come, come along with their short picnic chairs, small tables, wine bottles, and snacks for the evening. You get to watch the sunset over White Rock Lake being serenaded by the energetic bands that grace the outdoor stage.

Kayaking on Lake Ray Hubbard

I have always wanted to try Kayaking, and still, it has a draw for me. When I was browsing Groupon in the area, I found a lovely little Kayak instructional boot camp on Lake Ray Hubbard in Rowlett. Rowlett is about 45 minutes to the north of Dallas and well worth the visit! When you arrive you pay the fee to rent and get the kayak safety instructions (or you can just go out on your own). Our guide took us all around this lake just after the terrible flooding in 2016. The lakes and rivers were overflowing because of all the rain.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

It was a sunny day and being in the water in the humid Dallas summer heat felt amazing! We kayaked around the lake, even stopping at a makeshift dock in the middle of the lake. For the people who were brave enough, you can jump off the top of this rickety 2 story platform into the water. Be careful of the rusty nails when climbing up the ladder. Would be a good idea to have a tetanus shot prior to attempting this, lol.

Visit the Lake Ray Hubbard Homepage for more information on this and other hiking, boating, stand up paddle board information. Also, the reason I did not suggest Kayaking on White Rock Lake, is because it is so over utilized that it has become quite dirty in the last few years.

Texas State Fair

State Fairs are a fun way to get out of the house, enjoy the rodeo, and the fried food. Texas, not surprisingly, takes their Stat Fair VERY serious. The contest of ‘who has the best fried food’ has even been featured on the Food Network.

It isn’t just the food, it is the rides, the unique art, the games and even an adult real car truck race track that draws people from all over the world to this massive festival. Be sure to take a photo while there with the man himself, ‘BIG TEX’, he is the iconic symbol of not just the State Fair but Dallas as a whole.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Ever since watching the food network episode on the Texas State Fair, I have wanted to see how it stacked up against the other State Fairs I have been to. For me, well this place did not disappoint. I was able to get a season pass to the fair at a relatively cheap price. It gives you a certain number of rides you can go on, tickets to purchase food, special event entrances and so much more.

My favorite food was the classic ‘Fletchers Corny Dogs’, which has won multiple awards for the covering on their hot dogs. Just to tell you how delicious it is, I NEVER eat hot dogs because I think they are gross mystery-meat, and I enjoyed this.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Not only can you eat food but there is typically an exhibit of one kind or another involving food. If it is butter statues or 3D art with canned food that will be donated for Humanitarian efforts – it is certainly worth a look.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

If the rides, art, food, shows, pavilions, exhibitions are not your thing and you get overwhelmed with the crowds, then find a quiet corner to plan some games with your family or friends. This State Fair has something for everyone.

The only thing I felt was missing from this fair that I am used to is a competitive Rodeo, complete with a clown. It is TEXAS after all…..

Seasonal Activities:

Kaboom Town

This is a great celebration for fireworks and is on the North End of DFW area near a town called Addison. This is where all the locals go to see the air show, fireworks, and lounge about in the heat watching music shows. Check out Addison Kaboom Town if you are in Dallas over the Fourth of July.

Praire Lights

Drive through Christmas Lights are typically not my thing, but this was a show like I have never seen before! There were scenes from movies recreated, music to accompany it, a lighted garden that had every square inch of the place covered in lights. Texas truly does do everything BIGGER! Check out Grand Prarie’s, Praire Lights, for more information.

Downtown Dallas

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Just walking around downtown Dallas is going to be a fun adventure. There are a few things that I would suggest seeing and doing:

Yoga at Klyde Warren Park

This was surprisingly very fun and all ranges of people can attend and participate for free. It is a way for Yoga teachers to bring people in the community together and gain clients for their business. I was invited by a friend and doing Yoga outside in the elements in the morning is far more grounding and peace-giving than I thought it would be.

For more information on Yoga and other events visit Klyde Warren Park Website.

Katy Trail

This trail is a highly utilized area in Downtown Dallas and for good reason. Perfect for the joggers, runners, bikers, wheelchair and rollerskating excursions. This is an easy trail that stretches 7.5 miles across, around and through the city.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Not only can you get some exercise in, but be motivated to reach your favorite restaurant along the way. This trail is adorned with quaint bars, eateries, and walkways lined with beautiful trees and plenty of shade. For more information check out the Katy Trail and the other 10 best hikes in Downtown Dallas.

Crow Collection of Asian Art and Artifacts

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

This is a free exhibit that hosts some of the finest artworks of the Orient. Here you will see Asian fashion through the years, murals that will fill the room, and even a full Samurai outfit perfectly preserved. For extra luck be sure to go out back and ring the gong for good luck. Check out the Crow Collection website for more on the opening times of this fabulous find.

Perot Museum

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

For every science nerd out there, this is the place for you. Admittedly I am a science nerd and love psychosocial historical facts. Here you can see a building that recycles rainwater in its structure. You get to pretend to be a weather woman or man in front of a green screen and see just how hard it is to be coordinated on camera. This area teaches of cyclones, and you can create your own indoor cyclone right there!

Next head over to the Dinosaur exhibit and see how evolution has shaped so many of the birds, flora, and fauna as we know them today. The Perot Museum is a great place for learning and integrating the love of science for all ages. One of my favorite exhibits was the stone and rare stone exhibit. I couldn’t believe how many colors, and textures that were in rocks. There was one rock, where it had a magnetic charge to it and you could never get the dust off of it, isn’t that so WEIRD!

Dallas World Aquarium

This was one of my favorite places to go when I lived in Dallas. Seeing animals behind cages isn’t something I typically enjoy, so this was the perfect place! When you enter it is like entering the Jungles of Belize. You are greeted with a stunning waterfall in the center of the building with habitats safely and subtly sectioned off to prevent from territorialism of those residing here.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

The path you take mimics one that you would take hiking. As you wind your way around and through this building, you are greeted by sharks, otters, monkeys, owls, and sloths. At the end of the path, however, is the crowning jewel…..the fishes!

Each tank is designed to mimic that of each of the oceans throughout the world along with their respective species. My favorite was the Figi tank and the tank with the glowing fish!

If you only had time to visit one place in Downtown Dallas, the Dallas World Aquarium would be my suggestion. Make sure you arrive early as parking is very limited and can cost almost $25 if you have to park elsewhere.

Find all the Texas BIG Signs

This is another fun activity that is sure to get some exercise in and satisfy those who like geocaching and treasure hunting. Take some time and research where all the BIG Texas Signs are in Dallas and the surrounding area.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

This will take you all over Dallas and every few months they change their location. It may seem trivial and like a lot of work, but I guarantee that you will feel like a kid again as soon as you see one 😉

Look at events like the Urban Slide

Dallas is never short of supplying activities throughout the city. One such event I found was in the heat of summer, an Urban slide that was 2miles long in the middle of the city. This was the highlight of my summer! Despite Dallas being flat as a pancake, they found a way to make this work and I am so glad they did.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Make sure to browse through Facebook and search for local events to see what is in the area. Many times the local businesses or events will advertise to the surrounding population on Facebook as a way of coordinating these things.

In Summary:

As much as I wanted to loathe Dallas for all the bad experiences I had there, I really enjoyed the activities that the city and local venues provided. I personally feel it is a great place to visit, but I don’t think I could ever live in Dallas again.

I would like to go and see some of my favorite spots I have listed here. It is true what they say about Texas, everything is truly bigger in Texas. If you are visiting or moving to Texas and would like more information please email me at culturetrekking196@gmail.com and I will try and aid you in whatever way that I can to help you have the best adventure while visiting.

As always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and see you on the Flip Side. 

Where to Stay in Dallas Texas

Booking.com

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Travel by Train in Europe: My Top 15 Tips

Travel by Train in Europe: My Top 15 Tips

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The first time I backpacked through Europe as a US Citizen, I was entirely overwhelmed and confused. I wasn’t the only foreign visitor who was confused, there were so many people who had questions about how this complex interconnecting system worked. So for those first timers out there, here are my Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

1- Buy a ticket

Just because you have a Eurail pass, doesn’t mean you have a reserved seat. So be sure to buy that extra ticket in order to reserve a seat. Also, make sure you are there at least 30 minutes early so you don’t miss your train. Especially if you are traveling across country lines. Only buy tickets from reputable places, there are a lot of scams in Europe around travel. Educate yourself on how to avoid scams in Europe.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

2- Check Your Platform And Car Number

Get on the right train from the right platform. Look at the train names above the numbered platforms. Then make sure that the car you enter is the exact car you need to take. The cars separate at different stops and you don’t want to be left behind unknowingly.

IF YOU DON’T KNOW, ASK!!!! Ask someone after you get on the train if you must. They will close the doors when the conductor blows the whistle. The trains in Europe wait for no one.

3- Anticipate The Need To Run

Once seated, look at your ticket……look at the next platform you need to go to. Look at when your train arrives and when the next departs. You may need to run across the station to platform 12b from platform 1a in 15 minutes. There is always going to be someone slow in front of you, so take the stairs.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

4- Scan Your Ticket To Get In And Out

Keep your ticket in hand! You need it to scan in and scan out of each of the train stations. The ticket must be current, or you can get a fine. If you have a Eurail Pass, you can just scan the code on the outside of the ticket to get through the gates. The Eurail tickets sometimes have their own gates. Try to go with the gate not everyone is going through (if you can’t understand the Language).

5- Check The Type Of Train You Get On

Make sure you are getting on the right type of train. If you get on the wrong train you can still get fined. It may be going to the right place, but if you get on the faster train or get on an inter-city train instead, you can get fined. B

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

6- Bring Your Own Supplies

Bring your own water, your phone charger, and a Travel Pillow— especially if you have a sleeper train — small backpacks are the best…..just minimize by packing like the news told you the city was going to be bombed and you had 15 minutes before you had to be evacuated. That will get you everything you need in one bag. Yes, you will probably smell……bring Febreeze…..trust me…..there are people who smell worse on the trains.7 – Take Your Trash With You

7- Take Your Trash With You

Take your trash with you when you exit the train. There are small little garbage cans underneath the tables or right under the window on most trains. These fill up very quickly, as well as the ones in the bathrooms, so take your rubbish with you when you get off.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

8- Sit In Seats With No Reservations

Don’t sit in a seat with a paper at the top or an electronic name above the seat…..You will lose your seat. I had this experience once, and that is all it took for me to learn to not do this. Was very unpleasant to be laughed out of your seat by a group of teenage boys. Then I stood in the café car for two hours till the next stop, the train was so full you couldn’t find a seat even between the cars.

9- Treat The Train Like You Would Your Living Room

Don’t put your feet up on the seats, or let your luggage take a seat near you. Put your bags on top and your coat on the hooks. MOVE if there are people looking for a place to sit. You wouldn’t want to sit on a spot where someone’s muddy shoes have just been, ruining your outfit. Take your shoes off first at least before you do this. They don’t exactly clean these seats regularly.

10 – Be The First In Line, In the Right Spot On The Platform

Be the first in line to get on the train…..the seats run out very quickly. Don’t be rude and shove people aside, but if you have the chance, stay close to the train. I also would gauge where the train door would stop ultimately by the train next to us. You stand right where the train opposite would stop, and you get to be the first one onto the train! Worked like a charm every time. Most people just stand at the platform thinking if they are near the front they will get a seat, this is not true. If you are at the front of the platform, right where the doors are going to stop, THEN you will get a seat.

11- Pack Light

Please don’t bring 500 pieces of luggage that require you to ask for help onto and off the train. If you cannot easily get up and down 4 very tall 18-inch steps with both luggage pieces in hand…..people will get mad. The longer you take to board the train the less likely the people behind you will be able to find a seat.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

12- Sitting In Between Cars Is Uncomfortable

If you are just going one stop, you can sit in-between the cars. If you try and do this for the entire trip….you will have to get up and move every time someone opens the car doors……very annoying.

13- Sit In The Cafe If All Else Fails

There are seats in the back at the café car that you can order food and sit or stand there. I wouldn’t recommend this, as it gets crowded very very quick. No one can eat for 6 hours straight…..you would go broke.

14 – Limit Your Bathroom Use When Possible

Don’t try to use the bathrooms unless it is an emergency. If you do try and use them— bring hand sanitizer and toilet paper in your purse. The few I did have to use were so gross I was gagging. One had a floor so sticky and stinky that I had to breathe through my mouth. A coin-operated train station in Amsterdam was another bad experience. This particular bathroom had no toilet paper (luckily I had Kleenex in my bag), the sink had a powerful water flow and you could literally see the poop near the walls of the sink.

I am a pretty laid back person when it comes to expecting things to always be perfect (if you do expect it, your trip will be horrible); but this particular restroom was the most disgusting one I have used in the ENTIRE world. Who would have thought that a train station in the Netherlands would be that gross…..they are usually a very clean people.

I will say this though, there are some trains (typically the newer ones) that have decent bathrooms with air-fresheners and everything. They give hefty fines to people who are caught using first class bathrooms without a ticket.

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

15 – Getting A First Class Ticket Can Be Worth It

If you get a sleeper car for an overnight train trip, get one in first class with one other person if you must. I’m telling you….. it is amazing, and I actually slept…..everything is so clean and really just like a hotel room. You even get breakfast. Second class sleeper trains are adequate but don’t expect to have it be perfect.

My experience with the Second class sleeper was with 4 people in it, and nowhere to put your things because the ladies on the bottom bunks took up all the space. On top of that, you are usually at the end of the train which is a lot more bouncy and less restful. The Air conditioner broke and it was so incredibly hot woke up drenched in sweat. The gentleman in charge of our car and cabin just apologized, said they tried to fix it, and there were no other rooms for us to go

Top 15 Tips for Travel by Train in Europe

Make Train Travel in Europe Easier

Now all these things may make you not want to take the train at all. These 15 tips, were constructed from the worst parts of my experience. These tips and tricks will help your experience better. There are many many more wonderful parts of train travel, that can end up being a really great experience. My luck on trains is not the greatest. Apart from the one time I got a first class cabin all to myself. Being in first class was sooooo worth the money! To be in a cool, quiet, restful place with an attendant who really cared.

So don’t let this article deter you from train travel, it really is a great way to get around. I hope these things have helped and will allow at least those in the Culture Trekking Community to travel with ease, by learning from my mistakes.

As always, Happy Travels, Happy Tales and See You on the Flip Side.


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