If you’re heading to Europe with a Eurail pass, you’ll probably have been given a small booklet which shows European train routes and times. What they don’t tell you, however, is that this booklet lists only major railway lines and is generally limited to Intercity, Eurocity and Intercity-Express trains – it doesn’t carry any information about regional railways and local trains, and in many cases you may not even be aware that they exist.

Fortunately, Thomas Cook publishes the European Rail Timetable and Overseas Timetable, which I consider to be essential luggage items for any trip that involves a considerable amount of train travel. They contain timetables for all rail services in their designated area, as well as detailed route maps, ferry timetables, and long-distance bus timetables for those area that don’t have rail transport.

The European edition is published monthly, and the Overseas edition is published every two months. Each new edition has a special feature; the December edition of the European timetable has a feature on night trains, and the November/December edition of the Overseas timetable looks at trains in Australasia.

Admittedly, they’re not small (the European version is around 500 pages), but I didn’t find that carrying one added significant weight to my backpack, and it made my trip considerably easier to navigate while on the move.

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