Tips for Your Next European Train Trip

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Planning to travel by train during your next trip to Europe? The following boarding tips can help to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable journey:

Take your seat.

Some trains only have assigned seating, while others are reservation-free, and still others are a mix of the two. If your ticket has a carriage and seat number, find your way to it. If not, you’re free to claim any seat that isn’t reserved. Ask an attendant if you’re unsure where to sit.

Store your luggage carefully.

Luggage theft from trains can be a problem, but a few basic precautions will help to greatly lower your risk. Whenever possible, store your bags where you can see them. Virtually all trains have small overhead luggage racks above the seats, and many have luggage storage areas in the middle of each carriage. These options are preferable to storing your bags in separate luggage compartments at the end of your carriage. Place your bags behind or below other pieces of luggage so they don’t seem like easy pickings. If you have a backpack or duffel bag, clip the straps to the rack. Many thieves will quickly move on if a bag isn’t easy to grab.

Take advantage of train washrooms.

Depending on the country you’re in, many train station bathrooms in Europe cost a small fee to use. On the other hand, train washrooms are free of charge.

Bring a picnic.

It’s a good idea to bring along a picnic meal, especially on longer trips. Not all trains have dining or cafeteria cars, and on those that do, the food can be expensive and not particularly appetizing. For the best value, consider stocking up at a local grocery store or deli before heading to the station.

Know where to get off.

Some trains will stop at several suburban stations of a major city before arriving in the city center. Others only stop at suburban stations and then pass directly on to the next city. Be sure that you know in advance the exact name of your destination station so that you can avoid getting off the train too early or too late.

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