The following post is published in association with Direct Travel.
While expanding travel trends have seen increased interest in low-price exotic beach holidays to far-flung places like Zanzibar, the Maldives and Indian Ocean islands, the statistics nevertheless remind us that the world’s most popular tourist destinations are still in Europe.
France and Italy remain the two most visited countries in the world – thanks in part to millennia of documented history and their former domination of world markets, alongside beautiful countryside and iconic cities such as Paris and Rome.
Indeed, for every long-haul flight to Thailand or Malaysia, a canny traveler would do well to remember what an amazing time can be had with a rucksack, some backpacker travel insurance for security, and an Interrail pass across Europe.
With high speed connections becoming more and more de rigeur, with networks connecting Paris and Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid and Milan, it is possible to enjoy a varied tour of some of Western Europe’s most famous locations in a short period of time.
Travellers who would have splashed out on luxury can instead spend a little money reserving sleeper cars and taking overnight trains, with the promise of waking up in a hazy dawn in one of the continent’s capitals.
Perhaps even more convincing, however, are the connections which rail travel provides to Eastern and formerly less accessible countries. Younger travelers and backpackers can eschew the conventional cities for an exploration of Bulgaria, Serbia and Slovenia.
The advantage to choosing rail options is also the flexibility of travel. Not only do many Interrail passes also offer discounts (or even full coverage) of boats and connections across water (especially useful for travel to Morocco from Spain, or up to Denmark and Sweden from Germany), they also allow you to choose when you travel, allowing space for surprises, last minute changes of plans, and the plans of new found friends.