Austrian teen starts a rail travel agency

To avoid flying to Vietnam, this student traveled over 7,000 miles by train. Now, he's started a rail travel company to inspire others to travel far without using planes.

This student wants people to ditch planes for trains, even on long haul trips

“I think there is a misperception about going far, especially with young people, because old people — they remind themselves of old times, when there was a night train from Vienna going to Athens or from Paris to Barcelona.”, Elias tells Brut.

He founded a rail travel company after journeying from Austria to Vietnam entirely overland

“I looked up different train routes and connections, and then I went more far and more far, and at the end I was in Vietnam, like virtually. My girlfriend was not amused at the time, and also not my family. I am environmentally conscious, and I’m very engaged with environmental savings groups and advocacy groups, so that’s why I didn’t want to fly. It was really hard to find out to get schedules, to find out when trains leave.”, he explains. Elias would have emitted 2.63 tons of CO2 by taking the plane, the annual carbon footprint of the average Ecuadorian.

He spent 3 months planning his route, and now he’s making it easier for others to do the same

“When you’re in a train, you’re in really close contact with local people. With people who are really interested, and with people who have the time to talk to you. You are on one level with them. On my way there and the way back, in total, it only took like five weeks. But I met more people than in my five months there in Vietnam. From Vienna, we took the train to Warsaw — the night train to Poland. And from there to Latvia, Riga. We then took the train to Moscow. So, we stayed the day in Moscow and then we took the night train to Nur-Sultan, which actually takes two and a half days. Then from there, through the whole steppes, to the south of Kazakhstan to Almaty, which is a night train ride. The train ride was really scenic, because there were wild horses and there were stations like in the Wild West, in nowhere. And then from there, we took the train — the once weekly train — to Urumqi. Then we took the two-and-a-half-day train to Nanning, which is in the southeast. And then from Nanning, it was just another night train to Hanoi.”, he elaborates.

The train tickets for 5 weeks worth of travel cost him 700 euros

“If you include the hotels that you don’t have to pay for, it’s a really good value.”, he shares. On his way back, he took a different route. “It was just before Christmas. And I had time to sew a small kitten for my little brother as a Christmas present, and I did it like 10 hours every day. I would have never, ever put into one piece of work if not I would have been on the train for such a long time.”, he concludes. Elias and his dad are running their travel agency “Traivelling” together.