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overnight trains difficult to book in high season?

overnight trains difficult to book in high season?

Old Apr 21st, 2003, 06:44 PM
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overnight trains difficult to book in high season?

Hello Fodorites,

My itinerary calls for very specific dates of travel at the end of June and we (4 people)want to take a couple overnight trains to save time. I know this requires advance booking and would like to know if I would be risking my plans if I waited until arriving in Spain to take care of reservations. The problem with reserving in the US is that the extra surcharge is quite significant. I am quite anxious about this and would like your experience and suggestion. Any help at all would be appreciated. Thank you.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 01:00 AM
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You'll get a lot of coments on this one and probably all based on supposed past experiences. I am taking the overnight service between Paris and Rome next month (first class)and booked it in advance. I'm sure you know most of these trains can be booked up to 60 days in advance. You say you are "quite anxious" about this and with the greatest of respect that is why I always book ahead. A lot of folks here think this is a waste of money and unnecessary but then again, it keeps me from having to worry and I choose to spend my money that way. It all comes down to how much anxiety you want to avoid...hopefully the other responses here will reassure you that you can safely wait until you get to Europe to book.
Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 08:31 AM
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Hi, Marian5

You didn't mention who's surcharge you consider "quite significant" but I'm guessing it is either a travel agent EurRail (who I also thought was high). I have learned more from generous Fodorites than you can ever imagine, including www.Euraide.com.

My experience with Euraide is in conjuction with a railpass. I don't know if they handle individual point-to-point tickets, but you could ask. They have an office in Florida you can call (if you get their recording leave a message as they are very responsive). The email address they provide goes to Germany (Munich, I believe). Euraide charges whatever it costs for the various reservations you request, plus a flat $35US for their service which includes prompt delivery of your documents from Germany(I got mine within a week).

Also, I believe that many reservations can only be made 60 days in advance, so you would give them all the info for all of your trains and they would obtain the reservations for you as the 60-day window allows, and then forward all the paperwork to you at one time (hence the one-time fee).

If I've left something out, hopefully one of the more knowledgeable people here will notice and help out - they usually do.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 12:34 PM
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I'm not going to tell you to not reserve because I don't have experience with trains in Spain. I don't believe Euraide does single tickets, just railpasses. It seems to me that if you must travel on certain dates and you are anxious, you should reserve from US. I sure would, why ruin your entire trip. I don't know what surcharge you consider significant but if you are talking about Raileurope, the differences aren't always that big, so you should compare directly if you haven't. I think I saved about US$10-20 once by buying from SNCF directly online and picking up in France over buying from Raileurope (for a TGV long trip), and in retrospect, it wasn't worth it as I spent almost an hour in line at the rail station and had to make a special trip there. For France, I know the main price differences are because of not getting advance purchase discounts from Raileurope, other than that, it isn't really that big a markup.

So, if there are no special discounts you'd get on tickets in Spain (and I'd guess not at last minute), you may not be saving that much. Trains in Spain are pretty cheap anyway, aren't they?
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 12:52 PM
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I did the same thing a few summers ago...had very specific dates of travel and wanted to take sleeper trains. My friend and I figured that we could just make reservations when we arrived, as we had lived together in Paris for a year and booking was never a problem. Well...we were wrong. We could get on a train but not the specific times we wanted and even worse (for us at least) was that our overnight trains were just regular seats. We didn't have beds and when you are depending on that being your sleep time between stops we ended up changing our minds. We went from a rigid schedule to saying "what the heck"! This was also due to getting food poisoning in Ibiza--so 2 nights in Mallorca turned into 9! My suggestion, and this is not from supposed past experience, is if you want to keep to your specific travel dates I would just make the reservations. Good luck and have a great time!!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2003, 09:48 PM
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Thanks for all your help guys. I think I will just suck it up and get my overnight reservations before I leave. Another possibility I was thinking was getting my reservations in advance from a travel agency in Spain. Oddly enough, I can't seem to find any in Barcelona on line near my hotel. If anyone knows a good travel agency, let me know. In any case, I will follow up on all your leads. Thanks again, this is a wonderful site especially when people actually respond!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2003, 04:36 PM
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Update: I have given up overnight trains and put my money in flying. I highly recommend it. Iberia has obscenely low rates, you just have to double check all the different times because the rates vary greatly from one flight to the very next. I'm flying Barcelona to Madrid for 28 euros and the overnight was 132.5 euros!!!
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