Making Train reservations

Jan 1st, 2011, 11:01 AM
  #1  
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Making Train reservations

We will be spending 17 days in Italy, Germany and France in June and are planning on using trains for travel in between Rome, Venice, Munich and Paris. Is there any benefit to booking reservations this far in advance? Should I get some type of Euro Rail pass or would I be better off with bookings of inter city on individual basis? I tried to reserve the Rome to Venice leg of the trip and was having problems. Not sure if it was because it was too far in advance or just poor navigation of the site on my part.
tony56 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 11:08 AM
  #2  
 
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tony56,

If you are from the US and were trying to book at the official Italian rail site, Trenitalia.com/Ferroviedellostato, then chances are you will not be able to book online since most US credit cards will not work. I see no value booking this far in advance in any case--in fact the complete train schedule may not yet be posted online. There are some discounts for purchasing ahead, but none for purchasing 6 months ahead.

A pass may work for you depending on your specific train routes. Be aware that in Italy faster trains will still require a seat reservation.

Many people find this website very helpful for deciding what pass might work best:

http://www.seat61.com/
ellenem is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 11:16 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Were you using Trenitalia for the Rome/Venice? Yes, there are advantages/discounts for booking in advance, but on Trenitalia you can't book more than 4 months out. US residents have trouble getting Trenitalia to accept their credit cards (no AMEX at all), but there have been some recent reports of success with VISA (notify them you will be making an overseas purchase). You have to register on Trenitalia first. You might be able to snag one of the Mini fares on that route for 58€ (includes your required seat reservation which passes do not).

Consider some budget airlines for some of your city connections.

www.whichbudget.com
www.skyscanner.net
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 1st, 2011, 01:40 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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There can be a big advantage to purchasing French rail tickets in advance. Deeply discounted PREM fares (nonexchangeable and nonrefundable, though) will be available to you 3 months in advance of your travel date. See www.voyages-sncf.com.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 01:54 PM
  #5  
 
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European rail bookings generally open 90 days in advance, some 60 days. You CANNOT book before bookings open, and they won't open for June until March. But by all means do some test bookings.

The cheapest option if you're prepared to book in advance on a 'no refunds, no changes to travel plans' basis is cheap point to point tickets bought direct from the relevant rail operator website. www.seat61.com/Europe-train-tickets.htm will tell you the right website to use for the right journey, based on the strating country of the journey in question, and the destination country, as different sites book different trains.

For example, use www.bahn.de for Germany, international trains to or from Germany, and German City Night Line sleeper trains such as Paris-Munich, Paris-Berlin, Amsterdam to Prague, Amsterdam to Zurich, Amsterdam to Copenhagen, Berlin to Zurich.

Use www.trenitalia.com for Italy. It's always has problems accepting non-Italian credit cards but I have had reports that it's recently changed its payment system and will now generally accept them, so worth a try.

Use www.tgv-europe.com for France and internationla trains starting their journey in France, such as Paris to Italy, Paris to Spain, Paris to Amsterdam. A quirk: If you live in the USA you must tell it your country is CANADA, NOT the US, unless you want to be bumped to its subsidiary site in the US, Rail Europe, who often charge higher prices.

Eurail passes only make sense if you want flexibility, so can't take advantage of the 'budget rail fares' we have now in Europe if you pre-book, although even for 'on the day' flexible tickets, passes often don't make financial sense for trips around Italy or eastern Europe, where fares are relatively cheap. Remember too that passholders often have to pay a surcharge to travel on many trains, theres a list of these fees/trains by country on www.seat61.com/Railpass.htm along ith advice on when not to buy a pass!
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 03:43 PM
  #6  
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Thanks to all. Appreciate all the info. I did register on Trenatalia and I guess because it was so far out it wasn't giving me any options. We start in Rome and the train from Rome to Venice should be reasonably priced and an enjoyable ride. I think its about 3.5 hours. From Venice we head to Munich and the train should be nice over the Alps. I'll check the budget fares for our trip from Munich to Paris as it is a longer ride.
tony56 is offline  
Jan 1st, 2011, 03:56 PM
  #7  
 
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Trenitalia updates their schedules twice a year (mid-Dec,mid-June). Depending on what time in June, you might have trouble getting the trains to show even closer to the date. They don't have the best website.
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 1st, 2011, 06:09 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
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We used budgeteuropetravel.com to plan our trip through Europe. They were very knowledgeable!...and reasonable. Worth talking to them at least.
Howdey is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 12:12 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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For Venice-Munich, you change trains in Verona and head up the wonderful Brenner Pass over the alps.

All trains now have a civilised restaurant car for breakfast, lunch or dinner, a wonderful experience, so treat yourself!

The trains from Verona to Munich are now run under the new EU open competition rules on an 'open access' basis by the Germans and Austrians, so they don't appear on trenitalia.com, as trenitalia now regard them as 'the competitors' even though they don't have competing trains on that route! Anyway, book as follows:

First, check times Venice-Munich. If the one daily Deutsche Bahn direct train from Venice to Munich suits you, then book it at www.bahn.de, prices from 39 euros 2nd class, 89 in 1st class, or thereabouts, a bargain! On all othr services you need to change in Verona. You must book Verona-Munich at ww.bahn.de, then book the connecting Venice-Verona trains at www.trenitalia.com. I'd allow at least 45 minutes to change in Verona, which probably means taking the one before the one that the online journe planner suggests (but why not allow several hours oreven a day, foir a look around?)
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 07:32 AM
  #10  
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Great suggestion. Wife and I visited Verona 4 years ago and it was a wonderful time. Had the best pizza at a little cafe in the center. The shops were a treat. I'm sure me teenage sons would enjoy. Only question would be what to do with luggage that we would be lugging around.
tony56 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 01:16 PM
  #11  
 
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There is a baggage deposit room in the Verona Porta Nuova train station where you could check your bags while you spent a few hours in Verona.
ellenem is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 05:13 PM
  #12  
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thank you ellenem.
I think I'll look in to that Verona stopover.
tony56 is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2011, 06:39 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Here are the hours and costs for the Verona baggage deposit:

http://www.grandistazioni.it/cms/v/i...003f16f90aRCRD
ellenem is offline  

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