Interrail Reservations. What’s all this about?
Interrail reservations can be a confusing business. In some place they’re required, in others they’re optional and in some places you can’t even get them at all… and let’s not even talk about night trains… So how do you find your way around this complicated system of train tickets and supplements? Here’re our top tips for getting your reservations straight for your next Interrail trip.
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High Speed Trains:
If you’re taking any high-speed trains within Western Europe, you’ll find that you often need to reserve a seat to use with your Interrail pass. In Spain, Italy and France in particular, reservations are compulsory and can be quite pricy. It’s well worth booking these as far in advance as you can since they can sell out in busy summer months. You end up losing a bit of the flexibility of your pass, but the payoff is that you reach the destination in half the time.
If you aren’t happy restricting yourself to one specific time, you can opt to take local trains. These don’t require reservations, but it’ll often take you a lot longer to get to your next city.
For certain trains, it’s especially important to make sure you reserve well in advance since these are the first to sell out (often as much as a month in advance). These include the Thalys trains from Paris to Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany, and the TGV trains connecting Italy and France.
If you’re only travelling on high-speed trains in Western Europe, reservation costs mean it can sometimes be cheaper to buy individual than use a pass. By booking in advance, you can find cheap deals online and save. No need to worry about any of this though if you book with Euroventure. We look into each trip to work out the cheapest combination of tickets for you and pass the discount on to you!
Remember, if a reservation is compulsory, that means you have to have one! If you aren’t able to provide a valid reservation with your pass, you could be fined or asked to get off at the next station. This is not ideal as it eats into quality beer money/time… so avoid it by doing your research first! For the full rundown of train travel options in Europe, check out our ultimate guide to travelling Europe by train.
These trains make up the majority of the Interrail network, shuttling people regularly between Europe’s major towns and cities. For most of these trains, reservations are not compulsory, which means you can make the most of the flexibility of the pass. Do your research first (there are a few exceptions), and then hop on whichever service you like at no extra cost!
Sounds great right? If you’re happy to take your chances, these trains give you the ultimate freedom to travel whenever you like!
The only thing to consider with these services is whether you’re happy to risk not getting a seat. If you’re travelling off-peak, on a less busy line at a quieter time of year there’s no need to buy a reservation. Take your pick of the free seats! However, if having a seat on the train is important to you and you plan to travel at a busy time of year/day, it might be worth purchasing one before you board. Mostly, these reservations won’t sell out, so you don’t necessarily need to buy them before the day. However, it’s worth turning up an hour or so early just in case.
Particularly busy trains include Vienna to Salzburg, Amsterdam to Berlin and Berlin to Prague. If you want to stay flexible, no need to reserve! But if you want to be guaranteed a seat, it’s often worth the few euros to do so.
Booking through us? We include all compulsory reservations, but for optional ones, we leave you free to choose. You can either request to add all reservations at the time of booking, or just decide on the day to reserve particular trains if you fancy.
The majority of these trundling trains are local commuter services, connecting up smaller towns in more rural areas. It’s not always possible to reserve seats on trains like this, but generally they’re so frequent/quiet that there’s no need.
Night trains always require an additional reservation, even if you just opt for a seat in a carriage. The extra fee can be anything from 10 – 100+ euros, depending on the level of comfort that you’re after. For a seat you’ll pay the least, with more comfortable options costing more.
If you go for a 6 berth couchette (we offer this as standard on our trips), you’ll get a decent level of comfort while still keeping your journey well within budget. Want a bit more privacy? Upgrade to a sleeper compartment for 1-3 people and you’ll have the whole carriage to yourself. You even get a comfy bed and sink.
So when do I actually need to reserve a seat?
There’s no easy answer to the question, since it depends on your particular itinerary and your expectations! If you’re on a budget, aren’t bothered about where you sit and want to stay flexible, we’d suggest you only reserve seats where you have to. However if you want to be guaranteed a comfortable seat and a bit of relaxation, why not reserve a seat.
Purchasing Interrail Reservations:
Hopefully you’re sorted on when you need reservations, but how do you go about buying them?
To buy any of your Interrail reservations, either purchase them from the rail provider (e.g. Deutschebahn or SNCF), or, if you want to buy them all from the same place, go through an agent such as Railbug. If you can’t find them online, you can also just turn up earlier than usual on the day and attempt to buy one there and then.
Still at a loss for how to organise your Interrail reservations? No stress. Why not check out some of our Interrail packages? Euroventure puts together bespoke interrailing trips, including all passes, tickets, compulsory reservations, accommodation and 24 hour support. Either pick from one of our example routes, or create your own. It’s exactly the same as organising it yourself – except you don’t have to!
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