READ MORE The Groups Department is a specialised division within Thompsons Holidays created to manage group travel, incentives, conferences and other special interest events to destinations around the world. Being part of the largest tourism wholesaler in South Africa, affords the Groups Department the expertise to offer travel agents expert advice, superb hotels at top locations, top class service and most importantly excellent prices.
Q: Why travel by train in Europe? A: Airports are usually far from cities and getting there is expensive.On arrival there are onerous security checks and often long queues to check in.You need to allow at least 3 hours to check in for a flight. Once you arrive at your destination there is the usual long delay in receiving your luggage and then another expensive taxi ride to your hotel. A day wasted – so go by rail and have a great and stress-free day.
European railway stations are centrally located and you need just 30 minutes ( I have done it in less) to check in and board your train. Then sit back and enjoy the gently unfolding scenery, charge up your mobile devices (some trains even offer Wi-Fi) and have a tasty drink and snack in the Buffet Car. Where required immigration control is concluded on board. All too soon your smooth train journey ends and within minutes you could be at your new hotel. Tip: Where possible I stay at hotels within walking distance of city stations to save money on taxis. The station precinct usually offers many services like auto banks, restaurants which stay open till late and convenience stores. It is also a hub for local busses, trams and tours.
Q:Which trips offer the best scenery? A: Most European rail journeys will give you an insight into both city and country life but my favourite journeys are in the mountainous regions. I recently travelled by train from Munich to Innsbruck in the Tirol and then on to Paris via Zurich. It was pure chocolate box stuff all the way.
Q:How do you choose the correct rail pass? A: There is a wide range of passes with one to suit every possible application. Choices vary from single or multiple country passes, youth passes, passes valid for a set amount of days within 1/2/3 months. For families there are passes that allow minor children to travel free and for older children to obtain large discounts. Passes are available in First and Second Class and there are Saver Passes for groups of adults travelling together.
Q:How much are the passes? A: Eurail Select Saver passes start from 144 Euro and can be used in 5 adjoining European countries for 5 days of travel within two months. This price is per person and is for a minimum of two adults travelling together in Low Season.
Q: Any tips on how to maximise your passes? A: Plan your trip in advance to ensure that you purchase a suitable pass with enough travel days for your itinerary. If you are on a really tight budget you can take an overnight train to your next destination and save on a night in a hotel.
By John Ridler. PR and Media Manager - Thompsons Holidays