Train Tips

No matter where you take the train, there are some things you need to be aware of to make train travel easier and safer. Consider the following, but remember that you don't need to be paranoid to be safe. Just be cautious and alert:

  • get on the train early and choose your seat or compartment with care
  • pay attention to who you are or will be sitting with. If you are female, try to sit in a compartment with other women in it. Don't be afraid to move if the dynamics change after you sit down.
  • keep all your valuables with you, either in a daypack or in your travel pouch/money belt. Some trains require you to put your backpack on a luggage rack that may not be close to where you can sit.
  • don't automatically trust the train staff as they may be bribed or 'in' on any scams or thefts
  • as a general rule, you shouldn't give anyone your train pass for any reason. However, one of our readers pointed out that on some trains in China, your ticket is taken when you board the train, replaced with a small, metal disk. Once at your destination (up to 40 hours later, depending upon your destination), they return the actual ticket, which must be presented before one is allowed from the train station.
  • stay alert and expect the unexpected. You may be robbed when you let your guard down.
  • get a lock for your backpack. Although thieves could cut your pack to get into it, most will not, and a lock will delay them. As well, a locked bag will be passed up for one that is not.
  • use a belt or strong shoelace to keep your door shut if you are in a compartment
  • if traveling with people you trust, take turns sleeping in shifts so someone is always awake
  • get on the train early or make train reservations ahead of time to ensure availability. You definitely need to make reservations for couchettes.
  • buy food and water to take with you rather than pay high prices while on the train
  • trains in Europe run on military time, from 0 to 2400 hours. The morning is easy because the time is simply 0 (12:01 AM) to 1200 (12:00 noon). In the afternoon, just keep adding on to 1200 for each hour. For example, 1300 is 1:00 PM, 1400 is 2:00 PM, etc.
  • in Europe, as with many countries in the world, be aware that cities on your guide or at train stations are not spelled in English (but often sound the same). For example, Copenhagen is spelled K´┐Żbenhavn, Rome is spelled Roma, etc.

Train Links

  • BritRail - Eurail doesn't run in Britain, but BritRail does
  • Deutsche Rail - official web page for the German rail system. Also has information for other European countries.
  • Eurail - the famous inter-Europe train service. Find information and train-travel tips and book tickets online.
  • European Rail Information - extensive list of rail services all over Europe
  • Eurostar - the lightning-fast route from London to Paris or Brussels through the Chunnel. Includes current prices as well. The site loads slow, but it has all the info. you'll need.
  • Rail Connection- besides selling passes online, these guys can help you decide which pass is best for you depending on the number of countries you will be visiting
  • RailPage - Australia's railway system