Usually, backpackers have less money but therefor lots of energy and passion for adventures. They are seeking unique places, where not many other travelers have been to yet. Julian wants to inspire adventurer and individual travelers to look for this special experiences in Europe. Instead of visiting other continents, he recommends to get to know the European neighbors.
2011, Julian himself started his first big backpacking trip to Southeast Asia and Oceania. From there on, he was hooked for traveling and he went on long and short travels to over 30 countries worldwide. He wrote about his experiences as “Backpacker Dude” on the same name travel blog.
He noticed that many places were not as spectacular as he expected them to be. And the other way around: many countries, which he did not think about as backpacker travel destinations turned out to be real gems. During his train travels through the European countries he realized how much Europe has to offer. The countries are very diverse and all of them are convenient to reach by train.
Julian asked himself why not many more backpackers use the Interrail Ticket. The train pass allows travelers unrestricted use of the railway system of 33 European countries for a certain time period, including fast and nigh trains.
In his book “Europe by Train: Backpacking for Beginners” (2020) he describes within 150 pages how such a travel works best (German reading sample). Is traveling best alone or in company? Which ways of transport exist? Which train ticket suits your travels best? Besides travel gear, accommodations and route planning, he also writes about security and health topics. The book exists in German and English, but soon shall be published in Spanish and French language.
Which keywords describes your book “Europe by Train: Backpacking for Beginners” best? Who do you recommend reading it?
Keywords are: backpacking, Interrail, train travels and Europe.
The book is interesting for everyone, who wants to experience his/her first backpacking adventure and who wants to travel sustainable by train.
What led you to write the book?
In the first semesters of my studies, I decided to try out an Interrail trip. With skepticism I made my way to the train station. Is traveling Europe worth it? I already traveled Germany by train often, so what was there even to expect anymore? What I did not expect: Although, I had already seen much of the world, the trip developed to the biggest adventure of my life.
With 21 I had decided to do a Work and Travel year in Australia. That was my first experience alone in the big wide world and far away from home. At this time, this was for me quite an experience, which I do not want to miss. During the travel, I noticed quickly that Australia isn’t as spectacular as everyone always told me. Sure, to see a koala up-close or to meet kangaroos on a camp ground is truly amazing, but just because it is new and unknown. Australian for example love Europe, because for them it is the far away, unknown continent. While traveling uncountable travelers told me how beautiful Europe is and how lucky I should consider myself to have such a cultural diversity in such a small area.
One day I realized that I just went on the travel because many people before me went there and told me about it. From Europe at the other hand, I had not seen much. I did not know most of the travel destinations, because no one talked about them. This is why I just had Australia in my head and not one alternative. For an adventure one doesn’t need a destination far away, the adventure is waiting everywhere.
How much time did you spend on the places you visited?
Mixed. In bigger cities I spend days or even weeks. Smaller towns mostly just one day or one night. Generally, I promote staying longer at one place. But you also can just travel a little bit each day and explore the next place. On each trip, I try to not sit more than 2 hours in a train daily. It is not always working, but applying this travel style you get to know many different places.
Why do you promote traveling by train? In Europe you can reach all countries for example perfectly by car?
Traveling by train is the most amazing way to explore Europe. You are traveling more relaxed, more convenient and you get to know many interesting people. Additionally, taking the train is more sustainable and most of the time much cheaper.
Slow Travel is about slowing down. Asking for your opinion, why does this trend in travel exist?
People slowly realize that we have to use resources more carefully and that we have to care about the environment. The world also gets more stressful for everyone and to travel relaxed is a “calm” escape from the daily life. Therefor, no one stands travel destinations with long flights or waiting in traffic.
Some Slow Traveler promote banning flights. What role take the topics sustainability and climate change in your life?
A big role. Myself, I try to travel and live more and more sustainable. Put differently: Preferably I travel by train, it doesn’t matter if at home or on travels. Sure, I will do a flight journey again because I want to explore South America. But then I will stay there for some time. Long-term flights I do not find reprehensible, but I cannot understand how one can fly to New York for just one week. Instead you can take the train to Hamburg or Berlin. This is not just cheaper but has also as much to offer, without jet lag or a long-hour journey.
What do you think about Slow Travel as travel type?
I find the concept very good because most travelers just want to see this one place and overlook on their way there everything else. Most of the time on the way is far more to experience and this is mostly realized afterwards. The reason is often that most of the experiences are hard to share on Instagram and therefor declared as not meaningful.
Do you see yourself as a Slow Traveler?
I would not call myself directly a Slow Traveler because I sometimes travel fast as well. But in comparison to the standard travelers I am still traveling quite slow.
Do you have a slogan or theme during your travels?
Traveling by train is the best way to experience Europe. Let’s go, the adventure is waiting!
An article by Anika Neugart.