As soon as you’re on board, then it is time to settle back and revel in the trip.
Locate a seat. When you’ve got a seat assignment, find it and plop down yourself. If these have been in short supply, take a better look at the reservation tags posted over the chairs or on compartment doors. Each label reveals which extend of the travel that chair is earmarked for. You may well be putting off the train until the chair owner even planks. As an instance, if you’re led from Luzern to Lugano, and you see a chair that is only allowed from Lugano to Milan, it’s all yours.
Stow your own luggage. In more than 30 years of train travel, I have never checked a bag. Simply take it on and heave it up on the rack above the chair or wedge it into the triangular space between back-to-back seats. I have seen Turkish households moving all of their worldly goods from Germany back to Turkey without assessing a thing. Folks whine about the porters in the European railway stations. I think that they’re great — I’ve never used one.
Be savvy with your own bags. I presume every train has a burglar planning to catch a bag. Store your luggage inside sight, as opposed to at the conclusion of a railway car. Before leaving my luggage in a compartment, I establish a relationship with everyone there. I’m protected leaving it one of mutual guards. When a burglar makes his move at the shadow of a railway tunnel, and the bag doesn’t give, he’s not going to ask, “Scusi, the way can your bag attached?”
Utilize train time sensibly. The time spent on long train rides can be an chance to get organized or create plans for your next destination. Read ahead on your guidebook, write diary entries, delete yesterday’s bad photos, double-check your link data together with the issuer, arrange your daypack, or write an email house (you don’t need to be on line to write one). In case the train has electricity outlets (uncommon but becoming more common), control your gadgets. Don’t, but get really immersed in actions that you forget to keep an eye out the window for lovely scenery around another bend.
Follow local train manners. Pay attention to the noise level in your auto. If everybody else is talking in hushed tones, follow suit. Watch for signs suggesting that you’re sitting at a designated quiet automobile, where business people come to perform and other people to nap. No matter where I am seated, I make an effort not to be the loudest person in earshot (easily done over the average Italian train, however, takes additional sense in, say, Germany). Resting your toes on the seat across from you without taking your shoes off is perhaps a much graver faux pas.
Speak with locals or additional travelers. There is so much to be learned. Europeans tend to be less open and forwards than Americans. You can sit across in a silent but interesting and friendly European for an whole train journey, or you may break the ice by asking a question, gently offering some candies, or demonstrating your Hometown, USA, postcards. This can initiate the dialog flowing along with a friendship growing.
For the very best dining value and amount, inventory up at a local deli, bakery, supermarket, or wine cellar before you plank; many train stations offer a minumum of one of them. Food offered on the train costs more, with options ranging from a simple coffee and sandwich cart to a more extensive bar car or sit-down dining car (noticed on most schedules when available). A couple of trains offer you a “free” dinner, in first course only, usually covered by a greater seat-reservation charge.
Strategize your arrival. Utilize your guidebook to research on your destination town as you’re still on board — it is a lot more time-efficient and not as overpowering to arrive at a station already knowing how you plan to make it to the city centre (or your hotel). If you are trying to make a tight connection, it is great to know which stage your next train leaves from. If you don’t already have that info, flag down a toaster, that either knows the answer or ought to be able to look this up for you.
As you approach your destination, you have a game plan ready for when you get off the train. Know what you will need to do in the station prior to heading out — e.g., appearing up the program (and perhaps making seat reservations) for another leg of your train excursion, selecting a map out of a trackside data division, hitting an ATM, purchasing a transit pass, or even catching provisions from a grocery store (especially if you’re arriving late, even after most city-center stores and restaurants have shut). If you’ll depart from precisely the identical station afterwards, focus on the layout.
Know just where to get off. In Dresden, I twice got my train off too early — in two distinct suburban channels — before arriving at the central station. Know which channel you need before you arrive, and be patient. When coming in a town (particularly on a commuter train), you might stop in several suburban stations with signs indicating your destination name and the name of the neighborhood (e.g., Madrid Vallecas, Roma Ostiense, or Dresden Neustadt). Do not jump out until you have achieved the central channel (Madrid Chamartín, Roma Termini, or Dresden Hauptbahnhof) — request fellow passengers or check your guidebook to find out which name to look for. Find out the local word for “main station.”
Be aware that some trains (especially express trains) stop at a major city’s suburban channel — if you stay on board, expecting to get off at the centre a few minutes afterwards, you’ll skip your destination city altogether. For example, many trains to “Venice” leave you at Venice’s suburban station (Venezia Mestre), where you are going to be stranded with no peek of a gondola. (You’ll have to catch another train to get to the main Venezia Santa Lucia station, on the Grand Canal.) On the other hand, it could be convenient to hop out in a suburban station if it’s closer to a hotel compared to the primary station. Many trains led to Barcelona’s large Sants station also stop in the Plaça de Catalunya subway station, and this will be close many accommodations that are recommended. If you do find yourself in the incorrect channel, don’t despair: it is a safe bet that a town’s stations are connected by frequent trains, and likely subway or buses also.