Our family loves Europe. Zurich, Paris, Venice, Rome, Brussels. We enjoyed our recent visit to all these cities and more in a fun, adventurous trip not too long back. One of the biggest decisions we had to make was whether to do the tour on four wheels or the ride the rails? The answer, the choice was clear. Ride the Rail!
The train journey can be thoroughly enjoyable, with unparalleled scenery to boot, if you take proper steps to ensure that your trip is not derailed. From booking the right ticket to riding in best possible comfort, here’s some tips to ensure that you travel successfully.
The most important choice depends on how much you want to travel and how flexible your plans are. If you’re just traveling from point A to point B, you can purchase an open ticket, which is only good for a particular train at a specific time. On most routes, you don’t even need a reservation.
Rail passes are excellent, if you’re traveling within a country or multiple countries and planning on a lot of travel. Opt for the right combination and you’ll maximize your journey while minimizing your cost. Just make sure to do your homework and compare prices.
Just like people, tickets need proper validation to gain acceptance. For tickets, it’s simple: Just slip your card into the validation machine at your train’s platform. Approval granted. Rail passes, however, need an extra dose of attention: While they get an automatic stamp at booking time (to indicate the beginning of the six-month period in which they are useable), a second stamping is required at the train station on the first day of travel; go to the ticket office and have an official (not the conductor) do this. You’ll also need to offer your passport number and signature. If you have a flexi pass, you’ll have to hand-enter the date of travel each day before boarding, but don’t write anything on your rail pass before it’s been activated. Failure to adequately validate won’t result in psychologically damaged train tickets, but it could earn you a steep fine and plenty of personal anguish.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that fill out your passes correctly. A mistake can cost you dearly. It might result in lost travel days, a fine, or the need to purchase a new ticket.
A nighttime train ride has its own romance, but the love affair could turn sour if you have to use your handbag as a pillow. So the sensible thing to do is to reserve your overnight accommodations in advance. You have several options: sleepers (private cabins), shared cabins with up to six beds, and reclining seats, all in various comfort classes. Taking the overnight train can save you the expense of a hotel night and buy you additional sightseeing time at your destination. Keep your valuables close, especially if you are in seat or a cabin without locked doors to ensure that you sleep safe and sound.
Prevention is better than cure. Same goes for your train journey. To save time and money. confirm your station on a map in advance. Please do double-check your ticket for the names of your departure and arrival stations, as they may have only slight differences.
Most long-haul trains have restaurant or cafe cars, while shorter-distance trains offer snack carts. Check out your food options in advance, consider your amenities. If you wanted to be connected, find our the WiFi options in advance.
Remember, Europeans travel light!
These are a few suggestions from personal experience. Travelers who want to take in the landscape while enjoying the finer things in life should consider riding the rail!!