Summer is coming. Holidays are coming. What to do if the budget is tight and the green consciousness higher than the previous years? Low-cost flights and city trips have won the hearts of many young Europeans in the last years. However, they marched for the climate every week since December 2018. So what are some good options? Hitchhiking is still a popular activity among young people with races across Europe based on this mode of transport. There is the Tramprennen 2019 from Germany to Romania in August. The Hitchball 4000, evocating the bling-bling car race Gumball 3000, took place in Finland earlier in June. Instead of waiting hours to hop on a truck trailer or at the back of strangers’ cars, why wouldn’t you go with your bike across Europe on a stretch of a Eurovelo route, or enjoy train rides to bring you to wonderful places?
Trains in Europe
If you are turning 18 this year, you probably just missed the opportunity to win free rides all around Europe with the DiscoverEU initiative. But don’t worry! You can still find exciting routes to cross Europe in any direction here and here. Thanks to the Austrian national company, these trains are coming back to life. Their success even triggers attention from other European companies. For those who have a higher budget, have the ride of your life, using the Trans-Siberian. Take a train from Paris to Moscow. Or ride directly to the Russian capital if you are close. Cross Russia on the mythical railway—more than 9000 kilometers!—and enter China to visit the buzzing megacity of Beijing. From there, you can reach Shanghai with a high speed train. But how to visit such huge cities if you do not want to spend your life on railroad tracks? Bicycles! China’s cities developed extensive bicycle networks in the last years to battle air pollution. But you can also use your bikes in Europe on Eurovelo bike routes.
Eurovelo lets Europeans discover their continent on two wheels. With 16 routes as of now, 43 countries crossed and thousands of kilometers ready to be cycled, Eurovelo is a great network to use without all the stress finding the best route on two wheels. The longest route, the Eurovelo No.13, follows the old Iron Curtain from the Black Sea to Lapland. There are routes following the ocean shores on the west, the Adriatic Sea on the south-east, or crossing Europe from France to Bulgaria. You can decide to do a small part of a route in the direction you want. You might also do segments of different routes by looking at the overall map. What happens if you plan seven days in one direction and then come back with help? The trains remain the best option, with bike spaces (possibly requiring a fee) during the off-peak hours. Eurovelo routes are usually designed to be easy to ride, mainly flat with asphalt or gravel roads. All you need is your ID, a phone, a reliable and revised bike, some clothes and fearless enough to find an accommodation on the go. You decide the length of you day, where to stop and what to do. That’s freedom reinvented, on a budget.
What do you need to prepare?
You could be ready to depart tomorrow, or you might need some time. You must carefully check the following things before leaving to avoid big troubles. First, valid ID or passports if needed, with the required visa. Don’t forget to check the travel tips from your national foreign ministry website. Second, check your health insurance coverage and see if they cover you for long holidays, or if you go to certain countries like China or Russia. Third, pack your bag, the lighter the better, and go!
Edited by Julissa Ramirez.