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Europe On Rails: Train Travel Etiquette

There is something romantic about travelling by train in Europe nowadays. It is one of the best ways to get a true feel for a country and to see some of the real life that goes on there.

Here at Generator we know the journey is at least as half the fun as getting there, so we have put together some tips for the newbie passenger who are looking to travel around Europe this summer. Don’t forget to pick up your free t-shirt and Generator passport as you hostel hop to each destination.

1. Obvious stuff

It’s got to be said probably the most important thing about travelling by train is to make sure you are on the right platform with the right ticket at the right time. If you’re used to English trains don’t get caught out by the punctuality of trains on the continent! Equally, don’t be surprised if your over-ground train is a little late in London.

2. When you are bored of looking out the window

Some of the most interesting people you will meet on your travels will be sitting right next to you on the train; a smart business man who is going home to his family for the weekend or a group of teenagers heading to the next town for a concert. This is a great way to brush up on the local lingo. It is probably a good idea to have a book, a pack of cards or a music player just in case there is no one to talk to.

3. Am I valid?

In many European countries you will need to validate your ticket when you get on; this is usually just a date/time stamp, otherwise you may find yourself let off at the next stop. Also note that some long trains in Europe split half way through the journey so make sure you are in the right half to get to your destination.

4. A little light refreshment

Food on trains is often expensive so stock up in the local supermarket beforehand. Sharing can be a great way to meet new people as well; however, beware of stinky food as nothing makes you unpopular with a car full of passengers than a tin of pickled herrings, even on the Copenhagen metro.

5. Particular country quirks

It is pretty obvious that each country will have a slightly different attitude to train travel. For example it is worth making a reservation on Italian trains as they are often purposely overbooked. In some countries you will often have to manually open the doors so make sure you know where the button is so you can get off before the train departs for its next station.

6. I have a problem

It is arguably the most common cause of strife on trains – “You are in my seat!” It is always helpful to be polite and not raise your voice. If you don’t have any luck by yourself then get a conductor involved. Generally, rail staff are no nonsense people who have seen it all and they don’t want any trouble either.

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