What to do and not to do when travelling in Europe by rail

If you’ve never travelled by train in Europe, there are some tips you need to know.

To do or not to do of rail travel

If you’ve never travelled by train in Europe, there are some tips you’ll need to know before you start planning your trip.

Here’s our list of what to do and what not to do:

Do purchase a Rail Pass
If you are going to visit several European countries on your trip, a rail pass will save you a great deal of money, compared to constantly purchasing point-to-point tickets. Having a rail pass also makes it easier to be impulsive about your travel decisions because train travel is unlimited with the rail pass.

Do download a train map
Not everywhere the trains go have good internet coverage and listening to the conductor announce stations in a foreign language can be difficult. If you download a map of all the train’s stops, for the times that you don’t have access to the internet, you can avoid all of these problems and keep track of which station you’re at, and how many more stops you have until you arrive at your destination.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Train stations can be large and confusing, especially if you are in a foreign country. If you are having trouble finding your train or platform, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. People generally enjoy helping tourists and you may even pick up some useful travel advice on the way to your destination.

Don’t use train station bathrooms
A lot of the toilets in European train stations cost money to use, and while it isn’t much, it can prove to be an unnecessary hassle, especially if you are able to hold on and use the free of charge facilities on board your train.

Don’t fall asleep
The worst thing that can happen on a train is missing your stop, but the comfort and motion of the trip can make falling asleep feel very compelling. If you are worried that you may nod off on your journey, particularly if it is a long one, make sure you set an alarm on your phone and leave yourself enough time to pack up your bags and things.

What advice do you have for rail journeys?



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    4th Aug 2018
    As not all carriages on the one train will be going to your destination so don’t jump in just any carriage. Also, carriages may be first class or second class or sleeper etc and the trains can be very long. So to make it easy to work out where to be standing on the platform for your carriage you need to read the signboards on the platforms which show a picture of the train and all the carriages. Work out which carriage/s you need for your destination and class of travel, then like an old street directory go to the top or bottom of the signboard and determine which letter of the alphabet signifies where your carriage will be on the platform. Then look up along the platform and find your letter displayed, walk to that letter and wait there for your train. It may or may not stop directly in front of you but you should be close to it. Check all the signs on the carriage as you board to make sure you have the correct carriage. This saves time and you won’t be panicking as you run from carriage to carriage trying to find the right one.
    5th Aug 2018
    Now that really is helpful advice! Thank you.
    5th Aug 2018
    Thanks Maggie. I forgot to mention that this advice is for trains in Europe.
    4th Aug 2018
    beware of young people in mufti clothing helping you onto the train with your luggage etc. They're not employed by the trains, but they expect a tip for their unsolicited help, and if you deny them, they get very shitty...
    4th Aug 2018
    Japan is a place where you MUST buy the pass before you leave unless you want to pay double.

    Personally I'd advise travellers to RENT A CAR rather than do very expensive train travel.
    5th Aug 2018
    Ignore the helpful 'advice' of the dodgy dudes in Prague. 'Train has been changed to another platform' sort of thing. Also the very dodgy dude in Hanoi...whose efficiency and organization is ignored by real rail staff as he herds his victims into a specific waiting area. He asks for one million dong to pay for the bag he carried, and while it is not a lot in the greater scheme of things, it is an awful lot to pay for his 'service' by co-oercion,
    5th Aug 2018
    If you stay in places a week at a time as we do, do your homework on rail passes as we have never found them worthwhile. If you plan ahead you can often get good deals especially in France where we typically pay less than 1/3 of full fare. Have found 1/2 fare card in Switzerland good. If staying in mountain areas look out for guest card offers (i.e. for people staying) -can include free local travel including cable cars, and not always well publicised. Ask at local tourist office.
    6th Aug 2018
    Advanced rail pass should be best way to go However watch out for pick pockets (esp Italy) and especially when boarding (we saw this occur). Another issue we experienced was with a 5 country pass. The guard/ticket inspector on the train demanded we pay extra cos the train passed thru small part of Austria (did not stop in Austria). Now realised we were probably conned and the extra Euros ended up in his pocket (should have got his number as that probably would have silenced him).

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