There’s a lot of planning when it comes to planning a trip to Europe. Planning your transportation should be the least of your worries.
When it comes to traveling from city to city or country to country in Europe, traveling by train is one of the most scenic routes you can take. Although intercity flights have become more and more affordable, it could get costly when it comes to exploring multiple cities. When taking the Eurail you have a few options. There are a few things to note in order to get the most out of your Eurail:
1) Before you can decide which ticket to get, make sure you plan out your itinerary first. You don’t want to book the wrong ticket and realize that you’re limited to which countries you can and can’t travel to. There are several ticket options that include deciding on the region and time frame you will be traveling. You can pick from several different regions from traveling within 1 country or multiply countries. The time frames range from a day pass to a 3-month pass. Planning you itinerary first is what is going to help you get the most out of your train ticket.
2) If you can afford it, always pay for a first class train ticket on the Eurail. Trust me, it is worth it. Most first class trains have private cabins that seats up to 6. You will have plenty of room and best of all its normally pretty empty. Unless you’re in Italy or headed to Italy, more than likely you will be able to have a private cabin all to yourselves. As you enter the train, you’ll most likely walk through the 2nd class train, you’ll notice how packed it is. Sometimes with no seats available to sit. Once you get to the first class section of the train, you are almost guaranteed a private cabin for your party.
3.) Book your tickets ahead of time. The tickets will be sent to your home prior to you arriving in Europe. Check out the booklet sent along with your tickets. The booklet has the schedule of all the trains, connections, and times you will need to know to get around. Make sure you know which cities connect to which city. You may want to go from Zurich, Switzerland to Fussen, Germany. The schedule will show you that you can only do this by taking 2 transfer trains. Double checking your schedule with that of the booklet is extremely important.
4.) Overnight trains are not included in your ticket. You will need to reserve these early to guarantee your seat. Once you arrive to your destination, check in at the ticket booth to see if the overnight train is available to your next destination. The overnight train will not only help save you money (since you won’t need a hotel/hostel), but it will also save you some time traveling at night. Overnight trains are normally really hard to get on because they are normally sold out in advanced. Get there early and ask the ticket booth about it. If the price is reasonable, go ahead and book it. If they are asking for an astronomical amount, do not pay. Here’s how you can avoid paying as much, but this may be a risk of not reaching to your next destination on time. If the train from Rome to Paris is an additional $800 at the counter, you can choose to risk it by just getting on the train anyway (hoping that it is not completely full). Once you get on and find a seat, a person normally comes to check your tickets. You show him/her your first class ticket, to which they will tell you that your ticket is not enough to get on the train, you ask him/her why? They will give you an explanation and will ask for probably an additional 115 Euros instead of $800 at the counter because you have a first class ticket.
5.) Get to the train station early. You don’t want to rush to chase after the train just to realize that there are not empty seats and you exit the train. Getting there early will ensure that you get a seat. Some trains allow you to stand, while others won’t allow it. So just make sure to there a little early.