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When it comes to travel tips we here at Railtrains.com cant do more to emphasize the importance of packing light. The idea is to have the lightest suitcase or backpack possible while bringing the essentials for changing weather etc. A light suitcase or backpack will make your rail travel so much easier, especially if you will be visiting several different countries requiring frequent embarkement and disembarkment of trains. Traveling light will make your trip and travels that much more easy and enjoyable.

Packing Light

  • Bring lightweight clothing and layer for warmth. You will be prepared for any climate and you will be able to carry your wardrobe.
  • Pack a waterproof windbreaker that will keep you warm and dry.
  • Wear sturdy, comfortable walking shoes but also bring one pair of decent shoes for going out at night.
  • Also bring a collared shirt or a skirt so you will not have to go exploring the European nightlife scene in your travel clothes.
  • Remember to pack any prescription medicine, vitamins, and over the counter drugs you use on a regular basis.
  • Bring extras of any cosmetic item where brand is important. The item may be available in Europe but not the brand you want.
  • Pack condoms (European condoms do not protect like American ones do).
  • Bring contact lens supplies and/ or an extra pair of glasses.
  • Bring camera and a walk/ discman with your favorite traveling music.
  • Pack potentially leaky items in Ziploc bags.
  • After you collect all the clothing you plan to bring, check over everything and eliminate half.
Checking Baggage
You can check baggage on trains but you will have to come early and wait late to pick it up and it is a hassle. Pack a backpack that you can store in the bins on the train instead.Excess baggage or bulky pieces must be carried in a baggage car and must be checked before departure. Baggage can sometimes be checked through in advance upon presentation of a valid rail ticket. To insure proper delivery, it is recommended that you check minimum check-in-time at your departure station. Most often checked baggage will travel on a different train than you, and may take a few days to arrive. A fee is charged for this service.

Carry-on Baggage
There is no weight limitation on baggage for trains (except on few trains such as Eurostar and French-Spanish Hotel-trains). Trains have either overhead storage racks throughout the car, storage room behind the back of you seat, and/or luggage areas at end of the car. Note: Baggage kept by the passenger and placed in the baggage racks remains the sole responsibility of the traveler. The railroads assume no responsibility in case of loss or theft.

Station Storage
Most stations provide storage-rooms or at least lockers for baggage storage, and many stations have luggage carts. When porters are available, you can easily recognize them by their uniform or official badge.

Top Ten Tips

  1. A Eurail Select pass will cover border cities, even if the country is not on the pass. For example: although Salzburg is in Austria, you could use your Selectpass to get there from Germany (but not Italy, since it lies close to the German border).

  2. Stretch a Eurail Flexipass by paying out of pocket for shorter train trips. If you travel through a country not included on your pass, you'll need to purchase an additional ticket for that part of the trip. These can be purchased at any train station at the ticket window.

  3. Overnight trains not only save you money on accommodations, but get you to your destination early the next day, giving you a full day of sight seeing. Board overnight trains after 7:00pm to conserve money and valuable travel days. Only the day of your arrival will be counted on your railpass, therefore you save a day of travel. Additionally, sleeper and couchette supplements cost less than a hotel room. Private sleepers are approximately $80-$90 dollars per person per reservation, while the couchettes are only about $25-35 per person. You can make these reservations at any train station ticket window.

  4. For safety, keep all of your important documents (passport, railpass, traveler's checks) in a moneybelt worn underneath your clothing. When sleeping on a train, use your daypack as your pillow. This will prevent anyone from snatching it while you sleep. Also, Xerox all important documents such as your passport, identification cards, insurance cards, and railpass. Keep the copies in a separate, safe place. Watch out for groups of children or adults creating a commotion meant to distract tourists for easy pickpocketing.

  5. Most major train stations have lockers or luggage storage. These are a great way to store your large bags while you explore a city with just a small day pack.

  6. Reservations are required for all sleeping accommodations on all overnight trains. Reservations are also required for high-speed trains in France (TGV and Thalys), Italy (TAV, formerly the Eurostar Italia), principal trains in Spain/Portugal (AVE and Talgo 200) and most express trains in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.

  7. When traveling on a budget, bring food on board the train. Don't forget an extra bottle of wine to share with your cabin mates . Bring handi wipes to quickly refresh yourself. Also, it's often useful to carry tissues or toilet paper on board trains. Trains occasionally run out of paper.

  8. For comfort, wear an eye shade and an inflatable neck pillow for sleeping on long train rides.

  9. Talk to other travelers and Europeans you come in contact with. Be friendly and open-minded. Most Europeans are more than happy to talk to friendly travelers. Share information about your home town and they will be happy to reciprocate. Bring some pictures of your life to get conversation going. An added advantage is that your fellow travelers will help you check out the local scene. People will be more than happy to tell you their favorite spots in areas you may not already know about- no one knows more about Europe than the locals!

  10. Be courteous and patient with all Europeans, especially train personnel such as the conductors. They can make your journey difficult if they want. Hostility combined with a language barrier can lead to misunderstandings or worse. If you don't want problems, don't hassle others.

Most important, remain flexible and have fun! After all, that's what traveling by train is all about…

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