Many travelers who visit Europe would suggest you to explore the continent with trains. There is nothing more romantic and appealing than watching the countryside, urban cities, valleys, and streams from the seat of a smooth-riding train. The joy of train vacation can be enjoyed only if you go prepared for the trip.
Here are some of the essential tips that every train tourist should know before exploring the continent.
1. Learn the System
It is true that there are numerous apps to guide you through the booking process. However, it would be helpful, if you know a little about the type of trains and the type of tickets.
2. Regional Trains
This is the type of trains that offer short route commute between two cities inside the same country or two destinations within the same city. Prior reservations are not essential for such trains.
3. Intercity or Express Trains
This is for long distance travel. Although it is called intercity, it is for travelling between two countries. Some intercity trains run between two cities too. Some intercity trains might require prior reservations, but generally on-day purchase is enough.
4. High-Speed Train
These are faster commuting trains, which run from point to point, without many intermediate stoppings. The train can run at a maximum speed of 200mph. This train covers very long distances. Prior reservations are recommended. The type of trains has dynamic pricing and thus, if you book 90 days prior to the trip, you might save a considerable amount of money.
5. Night Trains
Most of the high-speed trains and a few Express trains are night trains. As the name indicates, the night trains offer over-night accommodation with private compartments, sleeper berths, shared compartments, or reclining seats, based on the type of ticket you purchase or the style of train. This type of trains also has a dynamic ticket pricing method. Thus, pre-booking would be economic.
6. Type of Tickets
You can choose standard tickets or rail passes for travelling. If you are planning to explore the region with numerous train journeys, the rail pass would be a good choice.
7. In the Station
Most of the trains are punctual. The railway station can be bit confusion if you are visiting for the first time. Thus, it is best to reach at least 30 minutes in prior to the departure time. This time will allow you to search for your platform. If you are confused, check the area map of the station. This will give you a good idea about where your platform is.
8. Amenities in the Train
The long-haul trains have cafes and restaurants. Shorter route trains have snack carts. You can bring your own food in the train. Some of the countries in Europe also allow carrying liquor in train.
The trains do not have large space for luggage. Thus, make sure to pack lightly. Some trains offer spaces for carrying bikes in the train. However, it is allocated in first-come first-serve basis. There are no luggage weight regulations in most of the trains, except Eurostar.
10. First Class vs Second Class
The trains offer only two classes. The first class has fewer seat in a car, the cars will be very clean and you will find more luggage space and leg space. The meals are included in the tariff. Second class tickets are economic, a bit congested, and crowded. If you are travelling for less than two hours, it is economic to choose second class instead of first class.
11. Ticket Validation
Some countries request the tickets to be validated. You can find automatic machines in the station for validating the tickets. In such countries, you will be fined by the ticket checker if your ticket is not validated. Make sure to reach the station at least 45 minutes early if you have to validate the ticket.
12. Car and Seat Numbers
You can register a specific seat number by paying additional fee or, you can grab any vacant seat. If the seat is registered, there will be an indication on the seat number. The car numbers are found near the door on the side.
13. Other Essential Tickets
- You can always book your tickets in the station, on the day of journey. You can also find automatic machines that accept local cash and bank cards with chip and pin.
- You can find numerous passes with student discount, couples passes, and others. Learn about all the available passes and choose the one that suites you.
- Remember to keep your belongings safe. Scammers are found all around the world.
- The train information in the station is displayed both in local language and English.
- If you miss your destination, the next station will be very far away. Thus, always be alert. You can check the information system in the train to learn the name of the upcoming station.
- In some routes, the cost of the rail pass will be less than the cost of the train ticket for a single route. Compare the prices and choose the right option.
If you are planning your trip in Asia, you can also choose the Palace on Wheels train which offers state of the art facilities onboard the train.