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Europe route is out!

Map of Europe

I’ve  been putting in a lot of work on the Asia leg of our trip and frankly we haven’t had as much time to concentrate on our holiday in Europe (which could also be because it’s still so far away at this point). A few days ago that all changed, and we’re happy to announce the countries we’re planning on visiting in 2013/2014. After taking into account weather, restrictions/regulations, and transportation we have broken up Europe into 2 parts. The first part will be in the summer of 2013, lasting until the fall, then we will head back to Asia and after that start part 2 of the Euro trip.

90 day Schengen restriction

One of our main considerations was the 90 day Schengen restriction. Nomadic Matt wrote a great post describing ways to extend this 90 day restriction but at the end of the day, the vast majority of us are simply going to have to abide by it. Our answer is to split the Schengen region countries up so that we will have an even balance in each part of the Euro tour. This means 90 days in Schengen regions in part 1 and 90 days in part 2, with at least 90 days off in between.

Optimizing Transportation: the Eurail Pass

We are interested in traveling through Europe by train so the rail pass could be a great money saving option. The youth pass for 15 days of travel out of 2 months costs $706 compared to the adult pass for $1083. There are several other types of passes depending on how long and how frequently you will be traveling and each one has a youth and adult option.

The catch: The youth pass is only valid if you are under 26 (which Dave turns in October 2013).

For us penny pinching backpackers this $377 price differential is not to be taken lightly and will play into how we plan our route. Although we have not yet narrowed down which pass is the best fit for us, the youth pass is always significantly cheaper and therefore we have decided to travel through connected countries covered by the pass before October 2013.

With 23 countries included in the Eurail pass, 25 countries covered by the Schengen, 27 included in the EU (outside of which there might be visa concerns) and 47 total European countries, the trip planning for Europe is enough to make your head spin (as mine does even while I write this post).

Note: the UK and Ireland are part of the EU, but not the Schengen zone.

Eurotrip Part 1: July to November 2013

Our aim in planning part 1 of Europe was to make a route consisting of mostly countries covered by the Eurail pass while also making sure to add a few countries not located in the Schengen zone for balance. In part 1 the only countries not covered by the rail pass are England and Scotland and the countries not included in the Schegen zone (and therefore not counting towards the 90 day visit limit) are England, Ireland and Scotland.

Since we will fly into Europe from Hong Kong in mid July 2013, if we chose the rail pass which allows 15 days of travel within 2 months we will both be able to purchase the youth pass.

We will have 90 days to cover Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, France, Luxemburg, and Belgium and we will make sure to use up every one of those days. Afterwards we will be free to book a flight on British Airways and to spend however much time we want exploring England, Scotland and Ireland, which are thankfully NOT in the Schengen Zone. The countries in the Schengen zone are also all covered by the rail pass so we will have a lot of freedom in choosing our 15 days of travel to use the pass. With only 90 days to split amongst 10 countries this is far from ideal but with the countries varying in size (and interest to us) we will spend anywhere from 4 days to 2 weeks in each ones.

Euro Route Part 1 (EU = European Union, S = Schengen Region, R = Rail Pass)

In order of appearance…

  • Germany (EU, S, R)
  • Poland (EU, S, R)
  • Czech Republic (EU, S, R)
  • Slovakia (EU, S, R)
  • Austria (EU, S, R)
  • Liechtenstein (EU, S)
  • Switzerland (S, R)
  • France (EU, S, R)
  • Luxembourg (EU, S, R)
  • Belgium (EU, S, R)
  • England (EU)
  • Scotland (EU)
  • Ireland (EU, R)

Eurotrip Part 2: February to July 2014

In November 2013 From the UK we will head to Nepal and then India to spend the winter months in mild temperatures. We will attempt to climb Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal and battle Delhi belly mixed with wild culture shock in India. Three months later we will be back to familiar and chilly Europe (our first breath of winter since Feb 2012). The second part of the Euro route picks up in February 2014 and continues through July 2014.
Euro Route Part 2 (EU = European Union, S = Schengen Region, R = Rail Pass)

  • Turkey
  • Bulgaria (EU. R)
  • Macedonia
  • Albania
  • Montenegro
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Croatia (R)
  • Slovenia (EU, S, R)
  • Hungary (EU, S, R)
  • Romania (EU, R)
  • Moldova
  • Ukraine
  • Lithuania (EU, S)
  • Latvia (EU, S)
  • Estonia (EU, S)
  • Finland (EU, S, R)
  • Sweden (EU, S, R)
  • Norway (S, R)

This list, of course, is subject to change. We’ll be releasing more information around specific dates as they come. Also, there are many travel promotions for Europe that we have to consider. If you have any advice about any of these countries, please write us at

[email protected]  or post in the comments!.

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13 Responses to Europe route is out!

  1. When my friend and I backpacked through Europe in 2005, we used the Global Rail Pass and it was really useful and helpful. But alas, since Tony & I are now well over 26, I believe we have to get a 1st Class pass which probably wouldn’t save us much money since we could buy 2nd Class point-to-point tickets which will be cheaper in the long run, I think.

    One thing to look into is whether you can buy the Eurail pass in Europe. If I remember correctly, it is like the JR Pass and has to be purchased outside of Europe, so you may have to buy it while in Hong Kong!

    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) August 8, 2012 at 12:31 PM Reply
    • Yea I think with the adult pass being significantly more expensive it may really not be worth it to get the rail pass. I plan on maping out every route and doing a cost comparison between paying as you go and the rail pass so we’ll see what ends up being the more cost-efficient option. Thanks for bringing up the point of where the pass needs to be purchased – I’ll have to look into that and make sure we get it before we hit Europe!

      Vicky August 8, 2012 at 3:50 PM Reply
  2. How exciting! I am in the process of planning the Europe section of my trip as well. The Eurail pass can be so confusing, plus it takes a lot of time to figure out whether it’s actually worth it and going to be saving you money or not. I just barely qualify for the youth rail pass (I turn 26 in March of next year), and I was looking at buying the Global 3-month pass. The only thing I was disappointed by is that Poland, Montenegro, and Serbia AREN’T included in the Global pass.

    Hannah August 8, 2012 at 3:43 PM Reply
    • I think as long as you activate the pass before you turn 26 you should be allowed to still purchase and use the youth pass. It really can be so confusing though and time-consuming when you try to map out the most efficient way to travel around the Euro countries and try to figure out if the pass will even save you money (especially since there are restrictions on certain trains that you can’t take with the pass). Let me know what you decide to do and if you write a post about your decision please provide the link! I’ll have to look into the global 3 month pass and see if that one is a better fit than the 15 days out of 2 months pass – so much to do!

      Vicky August 8, 2012 at 3:48 PM Reply
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  4. An outstanding itinerary in theory, but you guys are nuts!!! 🙂

    As you mentioned, everything is subject to change, and I am pretty sure that your actual itinerary will look pretty different. My guess is that by the time you come around to that last European leg, you will probably be content with spending time in 5-6 countries in 6 months as opposed to 18. Especially after the madness and insanity that you are bound to find in India.

    I hope this doesn’t come across as condescending… not my intention at all… but I just giggled, because I was actually exhausted just from reading this list.

    Of course there is never any harm in making this itinerary is there? And what do we know, maybe it works out exactly as you have planned….

    Either way, very excited for you guys…

    Skott and Shawna - Get Up & Globe August 17, 2012 at 1:02 PM Reply
    • Yeah we definitely feel a lot more certain about our Asia itinerary than our Europe one – but 5-6 countries, no way! It will definitely be fun to revisit this in a year and see where we actually do end up – and I hope you do as well!

      Dave and Vicky August 17, 2012 at 4:49 PM Reply
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  9. seat61.com is a great resource for train travel.

    Euan March 4, 2013 at 11:13 AM Reply
    • Definitely, we used it a lot when we were planning our trip

      Dave and Vicky March 4, 2013 at 3:24 PM Reply

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