How to Use the Eurorail

How to Use the Eurorail
A great way to enjoy Europe and make traveling across the continent easy is by investing in a Eurorail pass. Do you see a small hamlet with serious hiking possibilities? Get off the train. See a lake that you need to swim in? Hop off the train and get back on later in the day. The Eurorail pass is ideal for those who want the most freedom possible during their travels. Still, the pass can be a little confusing to use, and there are a few things to watch out for in order to get the most out of it.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Purchase your Eurorail pass. Although flexibility is a key draw of the pass, you'll need to sketch out a basic itinerary before you buy one. Are you going across the continent, maybe from Rome to Amsterdam? Or are you simply taking the train two towns over for a day trip? Before anything, figure out, realistically, how much travel you're going to do. Eurorail offers several types of passes from a basic one-country version to the classic Global Pass, which allows almost unlimited travel in 21 countries over three months. The Select Pass allows you to choose from three, four or five bordering countries.
Step 2
Once you're in Europe, decide ahead of time how you're going to travel to your next destination. Are you traveling across countries on a high speed train? Are you jumping from village to village on intercity rail? Find out what type of train you will use to get to your next destination by either going to a local train station or checking the train company's website. If you are going to take a train that has no reserved seating, skip to Step 4. If you must reserve a seat, complete Step 3 first.
Step 3
Make a train reservation. A common assumption is the Eurorail gives you the freedom to just jump on any train you want, whenever you want. It doesn't. You may have that freedom with smaller lines that don't offer reserved seating, but if you wish to ride overnight, international or high-speed trains, you'll probably need to reserve a seat. You should do this a couple of weeks in advance, in order to be sure you'll get the departure you want. To make a reservation, go to your local train station or the closest Eurail office in town (see Resources). The ticket agents will help you make your reservations. In some cases you may be charged a nominal fee (a few euros) for the reservations; the Eurail website has tips on avoiding reservation fees (see Resources).
Step 4
Go to the train station. If you've already gotten your ticket, go straight to the platform. If not, you'll need to speak with the ticket counter, show them your pass and get a ticket to board the train.
Step 5
Keep your documents handy once you've boarded the train. Ticket takers will circulate and may ask to see your ticket and/or Eurorail pass. As soon as you are on the train, make sure to mark the date in the specific date box on your pass in ink, as that is what validates it for the day. The pass has to be marked each day you use it. If you haven't been marking up your pass correctly, the ticket taker may kick you off the train.

Tips & Warnings

Before your first train trip you must have a ticket agent validate your pass with an official stamp. You can then mark the individual date boxes on your own.

Article Written By Vincent Runyon

Vincent Runyon is a writer working out of Portland, Ore. His work has been featured in "The Oregon Voice" and "Portland Monthly." Runyon received two bachelor's degrees from the University of Oregon. His greatest passions are traveling to new and different places and enjoying a good basketball game. Usually the two are mutually exclusive.

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