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Articles Welcome to ShowMeTheJourney

Welcome to ShowMeTheJourney

How and why we have striven to make it easier to plan European train journeys, book the optimum ticket and take the right train.

| about 2 months ago
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‘The journey not the arrival matters’ – T.S. Eliot

Our mission at ShowMeTheJourney is to simplify European train travel, so at the heart of what we do are our unique travel guides.
But you also perhaps want to discover more about who we are, what we have done and why?
Otherwise you wouldn't be here, but we are needless to say, very pleased that you have called in.

ShowMeTheJourney is dedicated to the magical experience of being transported from one destination to another, the sights and places you will see, the people you will meet and the glimpses into other people's lives and culture.

Nobody ever talks about the romance of taking a bus or plane, but if you take a train there’s the possibility of being awed by landscapes, technology and design; all of which can give train travel the wow factor...

What We Have Tried To Do

...hence the big idea of ‘wouldn’t it be useful if people could easily look up rail journey information on their smart phones and on their tablets and PCs etc too.

Even we are not so train obsessed as to believe that every train journey is fabulous, some rank very low down on the wonderful life experience scale.
However, others are helping to relieve the stress of the commute and other local trips into city centre.
Our focus is on the journeys which will take you where you have longed to go.

Many of these journeys will also make you sit back in your seat and smile as a whole new world flashes by; here are some of our favourite European express train journeys.

But in addition to inspiring you to make a journey by train, purely from the pleasure which can be derived from it, which is something we're rather fond of, we can provide help with the practical stuff.
Amongst our many nuggets of European train journey information are guides on how to buy the optimum train tickets and our attempt to tell you all you need to know about using rail passes in Europe.

Taking a train should be a lot simpler than it often is and ticketing is the source of many of the complications.
Hence making the many, many quirks of online train ticketing easier to understand, has involved on occasion, writing a LOT of not particularly thrilling text, but we truly wish that didn’t need to be the case.

Our inspiration

Our founder, Simon Harper, had previously been able to indulge his love of train travel thanks to a day job of editing and managing multiple award winning websites.
Simon On trains all over Europe

Planning those trips in foreign lands was always an epic task, because every country takes a unique approach to train travel.
Hence the light bulb moment of why not use the digital media skills acquired over more than 20 years for something useful; namely making the planning of train travel as simple as possible.
And for it to be available in the palm of your hand, so that it can be accessed while you’re on the move.

To bring this vision to life and to check the information which took more than a year to research, he embarked on a swathe journeys, some of which he had travelled many times before, but most were singled out for their potential to be fabulous!
This time around he made notes, checked timetables, explored every corner of stations and both chatted to, and observed the behaviour of his fellow travellers.

Travelling more than 25,000 kilometres around Europe by train was made more bearable, by an obsessive quest to make as many scenic journeys as possible.
All of the images on ShowMeTheJourney were captured on his travels in the expectation that they will make you want to hop on a train and begin your journey right now!

So as you'll see we have done our utmost to be as accurate as we can across the site.
Though journeys can always be subject to temporary and last minute changes, so a top tip is to always confirm your journey by using the links provided.

Contact ShowMeTheJourney:

If you want to get in touch with Simon he can be reached at simon@showmethejourney.com
He'd particularly love to to hear from you if you have any ideas about how we can improve the website, including the destinations we should add next, or if you have spotted an error that we need to correct!
If you want to ask about specific journeys and tickets, you can make use of the concierge service.

Future Plans

This second version of ShowMeTheJourney is a new chapter; we're desperately trying to avoid a start of the journey pun, but in time we'll need your help to make ShowMeTheJourney as good as we think it could be.
So near the top of the To Do List are the means to enable you to do that.

Also on the ‘To Do’ list is adding similar bespoke journey info for alternatives to taking the train, we'll admit that other options can be worth considering sometimes.
Plus the addition of more journeys in more countries between more places; Ireland, Finland, Greece etc, we haven’t forgotten you.

And in time the ambition is to also include journey information beyond Europe.
We keep being asked when ShowMeTheJourney will be finished and the simple answer is ‘Never’.

But if you follow SMTJ on Facebook you can keep track of what journeys have been added; they could be where you want to go!

Q & As:

Why haven’t you included any journeys in....?

More countries will be added as soon as possible; and hopefully the order in which they will be added will be up to you.

So look out for future opportunities to decide which countries and destinations should be added to ShowMeTheJourney as future priorities

How are you going to decide what journeys to add?

Well it would be fabulous if you could tell us which journeys need to be added to ShowMeTheJourney, the more people that request the same or similar journey, the quicker it will be added.

Contact our founder simon@showmethejourney.com.

Or if there’s a journey we haven’t included and that you have checked out, then send the details and we'll add it; we’ll also credit it to you and link back to your site, blog etc.
We’d love to be able to add journeys that we have yet to take!
Despite travelling to 142 cities across Europe by train, there are inevitably many fabulous routes we still haven't travelled and destinations we haven’t yet been to.

Why do you offer multiple options for some journeys and not for others?

When travelling between two cities by train, there can be only one viable option, when:

  • the direct trains are no more expensive and much more frequent than alternatives that involve a change of train,
  • the alternative journeys can’t be completed in a single day,
  • overnight trains aren’t available,
  • a particular routing, which involves a change of trains is by far the optimum routing in terms of price, travel time and ease of connections.

Where did you get your information from?

SMTJ has almost exclusively used official sources of information, the websites of train operators, station management companies, ticket booking services etc.
Some of which were buried deeper than anticipated and on occasion we had to resort to Google Translate, but hopefully nothing has got in translation.

We’ll admit that we avoided secondary sources of information, which is a bit of a cheek as that’s what exactly what ShowMeTheJourney is of course.
There are some fabulous other online resources and we have now produced a dedicated guide to help you find them too.
If there’s a particular service that you have found useful, or if you have something you have produced to share, let us know.

In order to confirm most of the information our founder travelled more than 30,000 kilometres around Europe by train, checking out more than 200 stations and using the rail based services in 17 countries.
He owes a huge thanks to InterRail (though he paid his own way).

We had also previously taken a couple of multi-country rail trips, which inspired what you’re using now.

We also avoided wholly relying on data and algorithms etc; computer programs tend to struggle with the complexities of international European train travel.
Having said that the next major project is to incorporate more of these, particularly for ticket price information; if you have a data feed we’ll be in touch soon!

So why should I trust you?

What we’ve tried to do is provide an overview, summaries of journeys, to give an idea of what’s involved if you’re considering a journey

Inevitably the train operating companies have the precise information for journey times, departure times, ticket prices etc, so what we’ve striven to do is point people in the right direction for sourcing this information.

But before we embarked on the research, we reckoned that much of the information we discovered would have a fairly long shelf life.
Stations and trains aren’t constantly changing, and fortunately (for us) the European train timetables only have one major annual refresh in mid-December.

Many specific departure and arrival times change, but there are few radical changes to entire train services between two locations; and when there are we’ll be rushing to make updates.

And if you spot an error, please, please let us know! And we'll take this opportunity to apologise for all of the grammatical errors.

Contact our founder simon@showmethejourney.com.

Also keep an eye on the social media channels as they will keep you informed of the content that’s being updated.

What’s so special/different about ShowMeTheJourney?

Five things inspired what you're now using:

1: Our founder's passions; for train travel, design, architecture, maps, railway history, engineering and research.
Research which showed that millions of people share his interest in the romance of train travel, but they’re more reluctant than he is to take the train, so we wanted to show them how.

2: There’s an often justified reluctance to take to the rails, due to an often correct perception that train travel can be more complicated than it needs to be.
What has given momentum to ShowMeTheJourney is the confirmation of the extent to which each country applies its own unique rules to train travel.
Which also encourages us that we're providing something of use!

3: Conversely train travel often involves nothing complicated than buying a ticket (without losing out financially) and hopping on board; hence the inclusion of many journeys for which you can’t buy tickets online, or when there’s no advantage in doing so.

4: Look up a journey on a search engine and the results will be dominated by the ticket booking services, but if you’ve yet to commit to a specific departure time or date they can be of limited use, as there are often additional factors to consider than the price of a ticket.

Hence the journey guides on ShowMeTheJourney including much more than how to buy a ticket, with easy access other details re: the train you will be travelling and the station you will be arriving at/departing from.

But with the romance of train travel front of mind, images have also been included for the scenic journeys, to give you a sense of the experience that awaits you; and soon they’ll be hundreds of videos too!
If staring out a train window holds no interest, there’s also a weight of practical information such as how to save money and time!

5 Having said all of that, the big idea was coming up with a solution for making all of this information easy to access on smart phones that’s where our founder's 20+ years of working in digital publishing played its part

Some general train travel questions:

I’m stuck at this station; can you help?

It would be great if we could, but usually we won’t be able to be of much use in these circumstances.
If we're experts in anything then it’s what’s supposed to happen when you take a journey, but we probably won’t know why the actuality has turned out to be different.

The three better sources of information in these circumstances will be; the train operator, including its website and/or social media channels, the station staff (particularly if the information desk if it’s still open) and your fellow passengers.

What’s becoming an increasingly good idea is entering your mobile/cell number when making a ticket booking, even when you don’t have to.
Many train operators send texts/SMS when there has been a change to your booked journey.

Be aware of any other information that can alert you to a change to a schedule or some other problen, look out for scrolling or flashing text on station indicator, it can often indicate something out of the ordinary.
Ask around to see if a fellow traveller can translate it for you.

Also listen out for announcements even when they’re only being made in the domestic language.
More often than not, announcements are only made at many large European train stations, when there has been an alteration to a service.
If you think it may be to do with the train you’re taking, then ask around for a translation.

I’m not sure how to buy the right ticket?

We’ve striven to give clear information about this, but admit that much of the ShowMeTheJourney is concerned with how to buy the cheapest possible ticket.
However, the cheaper a ticket, the more loaded it is with restrictions for its use and exchange.

So if you’re still confused by the ticketing advice, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification, it will also help improve the information on the website.
Though if the information you need is present and correct on ShowMeTheJourney, please don’t be surprised to receive a reply that solely consists of a link back to the website.

Should I buy a rail pass or a ticket?

Well the Concierge Service can help with that, but the other option is to look up the journeys on the ticket agents and compare the prices, but be wary of making the total price the only factor when choosing between tickets and passes.
You’ll be much more likely to make savings compared to the price of a pass, if you’re booking early enough to secure the most heavily discounted tickets, but such tickets are always departure/train specific.
The pressure of then having to being on time to make multiple journeys, can put a dent in enjoying your travel experience.

But the big benefit of a pass is the opportunities for spontaneity.
It won’t be a huge shock to discover that we are meticulous travel planners, but every time our founder embarked on a rail pass itinerary, he swapped at least 25% of the journeys for alternative destinations; to avoid bad weather etc.

I’ve followed your advice about taking a journey, but I can’t find it for sale online?

An admitted current Achille’s heel of ShowMeTheJourney is that the journey guides can only apply to the normal service (for the moment), the trains that should be departing.
But train services can be subject to alteration, particularly when works are being carried out on the lines.

However, in these instances, services are usually re-timed (usually departing earlier), rather than being removed completely from the timetable.
But while that new timing is being confirmed, certain departures can be temporarily off sale.

I’ve followed your advice about taking a journey, but I can’t find the train at the station?

SMTJ probably won’t know why the departure details of your train has been altered, of what the new arrangements are.
In this situation time may not be on your side, so ask at the information desk.

But before heading to a station it can be worth confirming the details of your departure, particularly which station the train will be leaving from, if the city has more than one.
Also check your ticket carefully, the specific station your train will be leaving from will be printed on it.

Look up the departure online, the evening before, as though you were about to buy a ticket, or if you’re following an itinerary, check where and when you will be catching your next train before leaving the station you have just arrived at.

What’s becoming an increasingly good idea is entering your mobile/cell number when making a ticket booking, even when you don’t have to.
Many train operators send texts/SMS when there has been a change to your booked journey.

If you haven’t taken any of these steps, and will be taking an infrequent train, then aim to be at the station least 45 minutes before the typical departure time.
If a departure time has been altered, it’s much more likely that the train will be leaving earlier than normal, rather than later

Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

ShowMeTheJourney

This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.