Amanda Elgh, Student Coordinator, LUCSUS
In this post, I will tell you about how I became a guinea pig for our new travel agency that helps you book train tickets to anywhere in Europe (and maybe elsewhere, I’m not sure! If possible, I would love to take the train all the way to the south of Africa or Japan as well, what an adventure it would be!). I will also share some of my personal tips on how to make the most of your train journey.
I was thrilled when I got accepted to the staff week at Université Paris-Saclay in June last year. But I also had a dilemma: how to get there? I love travelling by train, and I am “emotionally convinced” that we have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint, so flying was not an option. But still a slight feeling of uneasiness sneaked upon me! I knew that booking train tickets across borders could potentially be a little painful. I had heard some not so nice stories from my colleagues at LUCSUS, who often travel by train for work. They have shared stories with me on how hard it can be to find the right trains, and the most convenient connections, without being robbed and without having to spend hours and hours on debating with the travel agency who often has argued for the supposedly easier/more affordable/quicker option, flying. Some of them have even given up on the regular travel agency and booked their tickets themselves.
But then I heard the good news: the university was looking for volunteers to test a new travel agency for train journeys. I signed up right away!
I have to say, it was a breeze! The travel agency took care of everything for me. All I had to do was to tell them (through an online form) where and when I wanted to go, and they sent me the tickets by mail within a couple of days. Well, I had to pick the tickets up at the post office at the other end of Lund, but that was only because I made a mistake and gave the travel agency our box address instead of the street address. That’s my first tip for you: use a street address for delivery, or better yet, ask for e-tickets. It’s faster and easier.
The travel itself was also smooth and enjoyable. I and a colleague from the Faculty of Science hopped on the train in Malmö on a Sunday afternoon and arrived in Paris on Monday morning, after a few changes in Copenhagen, Hamburg (where we stretched our legs and had dinner), and Offenburg (where we woke up at 6 AM and had an early breakfast on the platform as the sun rose before we had to jump on the TGV for the last part). The trains were comfortable, clean, and punctual. We had plenty of time to relax, chat, read, and work. And the scenery was beautiful! The experience makes me happy when I think about it.
On the way back, I (I travelled back by myself as I decided to stay for an extra day) had a minor delay, but it was no problem. I used the Rail Planner app to find an alternative route, and all in all I only arrived to Malmö one hour later than planned.
Here are some more tips to make your train journey even more fun:
- Travel light! You don’t need a lot of stuff. Rather bring some laundry detergent, or use the hotel services than carry a heavy bag.
- Baby wipes are your best friend! They will keep you fresh and clean, especially if you don’t have access to a shower.
- Stay hydrated and energised! Drink plenty of water and eat healthy snacks. You will feel happier and sharper.
- Download some podcasts or audiobooks that you have always wanted to listen to. Now you have the perfect opportunity!
- Download and familiarise yourself with the Rail Planner app. The app makes it easy to find alternatives if a train is delayed.
To sum it up, travelling by train was not only good for the planet, but also good for me. I had a lot of time to unwind and focus. And had a lot of fun! I would not hesitate to do it again. If in doubt, don’t be, just enjoy it for what it is.