Eccentric German Millennial Lives On Trains Year Round

Filed Under: Humor, Travel

The Washington Post ran a profile this past weekend of 23-year-old German university student Leonie Müller, who decided that rather than paying $450 in rent at her apartment, she could spend $380 a month to permanently ride the German rails.

Leonie’s $380/month unlimited rail pass allows her near-endless mobility, which she craves. She lives her life out of a small carry-on backpack and washes her hair in the train bathroom facilities. Per the Post:

The German college student gave up her apartment in spring. “It all started with a dispute I had with my landlord,” Müller told The Washington Post via e-mail. “I instantly decided I didn’t want to live there anymore — and then I realized: Actually, I didn’t want to live anywhere anymore.”

Now, mind you, she’s not living full-time in the Etihad First Class Apartment.

She’s not even living full-time in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, as Ben’s always wanted to do.

Nope, she’s living on the German DB Bahn train system, which is, by all accounts, not up there with the best European train systems like the TGV, Thalys, or the Swiss rail network.

German DB Bahn train
German DB Bahn train

I also seem to recall a magazine article recently about an eccentric German millennial who gave up renting an apartment in order to split his time between living in hotels and flying around the world. Crazy!

It sounds like the market for German twentysomethings who choose to live as permanent travelers is becoming oversaturated… 😉

Luckily at least one of them is settling down soon!

  1. She often crashes at a family member’s or boyfriend’s place. So the whole “live on trains” is a bit overblown.

  2. I feel really bad for her.. or maybe I feel really bad for anyone that has to be around a person that washes her hair at the train bathroom sink. 😮

  3. It looks as though she might be travelling on DB ICE trains. These are top notch Siemans built express trains. I dare say they compare well to any train in the world.

  4. Me too, I wonder why the German ICE train system (the picture shows a DB regional train) shouldn’t be on a par with the French TGV or Thalys. None of them offer something like first class apartments, but they serve their main purpose pretty well: high speed ground transportation on a decent quality level. In Switzerland, as well as Germany, with the big advantage of boarding the train even one minute prior to departure without the need for reserving a seat. You just hop on and off as desired. No need to show up at the train station half an hour or so before. Thus having a rail pass like Leonie Müller provides you with maximum freedom and flexibility, given your destinations are not too far apart.

  5. I mean, Is she that cheap ?
    $70 a month difference and she has to live on trains.

    Ben’s is a bit different where he has a nice hotel room and all, but living on a train. Think I will pass.

  6. Sorry, but in terms of the quality of trains, network and reliability, Swiss and German railway are the best for me! I’ve lived there and used them a lot. Of course on par or even better with the mentioned ones! First class lounges of Deutsche Bahn in e.g. Berlin, Frankfurt are quite good and serve you free snacks or breakfast and all kind of drinks. She could have used them too with the BahnCard 100. ICE trains are great. And the whole story is exaggerated. She sleeps at her friend’s or familiy’s apartments. And she also could use the showers at the stations. It’s hardly possible the wash the hair properly in the sink of a train.

  7. I want to live on an Alaskan Marine Highway ferry for three months in the middle of winter. But I know I would be spending more than I do for my mortgage and utilities at home. Plus I’d still be paying them.

  8. “I also seem to recall a magazine article recently about an eccentric German millennial who gave up renting an apartment in order to split his time between living in hotels and flying around the world. Crazy!”

    Oh snap! 😉

  9. “By all accounts…” I’m guessing the writer has never taken a journalism course. I’m wondering if he has actually been to college.

  10. I admire her spirit of adventure! Travel can be fun and rewarding even if it isn’t necessarily luxurious.

  11. @mister curious: Spoken like a 15-25 year old. Given the chance to experience F or J class over steerage or Hyatt over Motel 6 I think the ‘adventurers’ would quickly change their outlook. Still, doing the
    rucksack thing at a young age does do wonders, as I found out. ? That it ain’t cracked up what it’s supposed to be, it’s worse. Hostels are named as such for good reason.

  12. Having spent countless hours on trains in Germany and the rest of Europe, I can say with confidence that the German system is as good or better than their European competitors. Kinda makes wonder how much time the author of this post has spent on the DB…

  13. “she’s living on the German DB Bahn train system, which is, by all accounts, not up there with the best European train systems like the TGV, Thalys, or the Swiss rail network.”

    You cannot be serious.

    The Thalys and TGV are nowhere near as extensive a network as Germany’s ICE. While I did enjoy the Thalys “service” in 1st class on board, anyone who’s ever ridden a train knows that “service” is minimal across the board, and 1st class simply means fewer seats per row.
    Moreover, when traveling on InterCity and EuroCity trains, the rolling stock are typically interchangeable between national rail systems and offer the same amenities as their high-speed ICE/Thalys/TGV brethren – simply at slower speeds.

  14. @Steve R., somehow I doubt someone like Leonie Muller would be as easily spoiled as you say. I’ve done the F and J and 5 star hotel thing, but I have no problem flying Y or staying at a Motel 6 or camping or whatever. If travel is only about luxury experiences to you, then you are missing out my friend 🙂

  15. Spoken like a pompous DYKWIA. Having flown on pretty much every F product, I still stay at hostels quite often. Reason is you quickly meet new travel buddies that you can hang out. Staying at 5 star hotels adds no value. Now if you are traveling with a partner and have no desire to meet anyone else, sure its nicer.

  16. It’s quite sad when someone says they live in hotels full time but actually spends a significant amount of the year crashing at their parents or mates houses.

  17. @Sam: In contrast to Ben, she basically always spends her nights at her boyfriend, friends or family. I guess she wouldn’t even claim herself that she ‘lives’ in trains, that’s just something that they made up for the headlines (just as Ben doesn’t travel the world ‘for free’).
    And, of course, I agree with everyone (but Nick) that German ICEs are at-par/better compared to other European trains.

  18. Deutsche Bahn just sucks. I try to avoid riding their trains at all cost (including ICE), which is actually quite easy as the trains are either broken down or the employees are on strike. And washing my hair in those bathrooms??? That’s just disgusting.

  19. Well, being German, the lack of regular full showering wouldn’t be unusual, nor would the body odor stand out from her countrymen.

    But Nick, maybe try not to comment on something you obviously know nothing about from experience. Comparing a regional train to TGV, etc. is apples and oranges. While TGV or the shinkansen in Japan are better in some ways than ICE, including being able to maintain high speeds through more of the system, it’s not that drastic of a difference.

    Yes the German girl stays at friends and her boyfriends, but stays extensively in and on the train. She is planning a paper for college class based on the experience. So what? Substitute “airliners” for “train” and “blog” for “college paper” and it’s no different from this blog and its owner, in principle.

  20. Does she sleep in sleeper cars? Do they have those on routes within Germany or only to other countries?

  21. @Tom : finally someone who really ask the right question! Yes there are still night trains in Germany with 3 sleeper cabin inclusive of private bath! Fancy the shower on Emirates? Why not give it a try on a train? Routes might be more limited but some cross borders too.

    Considering ICE / TGV / Thalys… each train / network has advantages and inconvenience. The ICE from DB has some nice styling, sometimes WiFi and a real onboard restaurant (fancy the high altitude bars? Try the real restaurant!) ! But have you ever tried to work on those small seat tables with a computer in 1st? And the real (i.e. 300km/h) network in Germany is somehow limited. The DB lougne can be nice but at peak hours they are crowded.
    The TGV from SNCF is reallly fast : up to 320km/h on the Paris – Strasbourg line and the seats are really comfortable. SNCF worked on their onboard catering and it is getting better, but still I prefer the onboard restaurant of DB. in addition SNCF would really need to upgrade the services they offer in their lounges… On the other hand SNCF is constantly trying out new on board services with their iDTGV brand : tranforming their bar coach into a disco with DJ, or into a barbershop, massage room…
    Thalys is the way to connect between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne since it is running on high speed line all the way. Their 1st class offer some very good services (free WiFi cross country, at seat catering, newspaper app) and is still affordable. Furthermore their lounges in Brussels and Cologne are decent (and all members of their loyalty program can access them, even with no status!) and you also have acces to the NS lounge in Amsterdam which is really nice! Plus do you want to use your time on board to a maximum? You could book a private meeting room on board!
    In addition one of my favorite European (but more expansive) high speed train would be the Eurostar connecting London with Paris and Brussels. Their lounges in London and Paris are just glorious and their on board at seat catering in 1st class is very nice too. Plus they are introducing new rolling stock, which was deeply needed. They are just missing the WiFi…

    I never took the spanish, austrian or any of the italian high speed train, but would deffinitly want to ride the Italo (cinema coach, free WiFi, private lougne in “club executive”) and Railjet (on board restaurant, children’s cinema, free WiFi, nice “business class”)! While the Swiss trains also like to eperiment new things with their on board catering having introduced a full on board Starbucks last year and in the 80’s having experienced with on board McDonalds!

    So depending on your trip purpose and the services you would like to use, each might prefer a different train. So I wouldn’t clearly say the ICE is better than xyz…

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