European Train Tips

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train couple wait waiting travel tracks railroadTraveling by train around Europe, visiting the Continent’s greatest cities and most charming towns, can be the adventure of a lifetime — and using a rail pass is one of the most affordable ways to make the adventure happen. But how can you get the most out of your rail pass? Read on for our top tips on traveling around Europe by train.For help deciding which pass to choose, check out our tales on Eurail passes and European country rail passes.

1. Shop around before you buy your rail pass. Many agents offer discounts and specials on Europe rail passes; check our train deals for the latest special offers.

2. Plot your itinerary carefully before you buy your pass. Flexipass holders may save money and travel days by purchasing separate tickets for shorter trips. For example, say you’ve bought a Eurail Italy Pass, valid for seven days of travel in a two-month period. At $374 for a second-class pass, your average cost per travel day is about $53. Instead of wasting a travel day for a trip from Florence to Pisa — which costs just $12 each way — you can buy an party voucher for that trip and save the travel day on your rail pass for a night train or longer journey.

3. You will need to validate your rail pass at a railway voucher office before you use it for the first time. (Be sure you arrive ahead of schedule enough before your train’s departure time to stand in line for this service.)

4. Be aware that your rail pass will allocate you to board any train, but it does not promise you a seat, couchette or sleeper berth. In addendum, high-speed trains may require a supplement. If you are not sure, check with the voucher agent before you board the train.

5. Eurail Flexi Pass holders must infiltrate that day’s travel date in ink before boarding the train. For an overnight train departing after 7 p.m. and arriving at 4 a.m. or later, infiltrate the next day’s date; you will only have to use one of your travel days. But, if you change trains during your overnight journey, or if your train arrives before 4 a.m., you must use two days.

6. You may be vital to give your passport and rail pass to the conductor when boarding a night train. He or she will take care of dealing with customs officials for you as you pass through each country on your route.

7. Be aware of your route before you travel. If you are traveling through a country that is not listed on your rail pass, you will have to pay the full fare for that part of the trip. You may buy this in advance to avoid a fine; austerely tell the voucher agent your destination and he or she will issue you a voucher to cover the journey.

8. Safeguard your rail pass; it is not replaceable if stolen. But, you may be entitled to a refund if you buy pass insurance (such as Rail Europe’s Rail Protection Plot). Rail pass insurance will not replace your pass while traveling; it only entitles you to a refund for the unused part (or the cost of a replacement, if less) after you return. If you lose your pass, contact the local police immediately. You will be vital to submit a copy of the police report with your lost pass claim.

9. Be sure to read the inside of your voucher jacket for vital information regarding reservations, services and bonuses. Some rail passes entitle you to free museum admission, reduced ferry fares or other perks around Europe.

10. Make reservations for sleepers or couchettes in advance. This can be done at the train station and in most travel agencies. Sleepers should be reserved as far in advance as possible, as they tend to fill up quickly. Couchettes can generally be booked the day of travel. You may have to pay an additional fee for a couchette or a sleeper.

11. If you’re plotting to travel on a Friday night you may need to make a reservation, as many people will be making weekend trips and the trains fill up quickly. Get to the station ahead of schedule and check with the voucher agent before you board.

12. Don’t leave luggage unguarded on the train or in the station.

13. On night trains, secure baggage to the rack with a small bicycle lock.

14. Keep your valuables in a concealed money belt when sleeping on trains.

15. Many train stations have secure lockers or “left luggage” counters where you can deposit your luggage for the day for a small fee. Carry change in the currency of the country you are in, as most lockers do not accept bills.

16. Earplugs can be bought at any pharmacy and will be invaluable in helping you get a excellent night’s sleep on an overnight train.

European Train Tips

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