travel advice & savings
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Are reserving day and night trains necessary?
Megannn27's profile picture
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I am going to be traveling all over europe from June7th to July 10th with my friend. We are planning to take some night trains, but I am no sure if I should reserve the couchettes or if it is just a waste of money. I am also wondering if we should reserve day trains too, for example from Rome to Naple or Florence to Milan. We want to have a open schedule but it seems like with the reservations we have to have a strict itinerary. We also will have a 15 day 2 month railpass. Any advice on what to do? PLEASE HELP ME!

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With couchette you’ll be much more comfortable, but a regular seat on a nigh train gets you from A to B just as well.
A reservation on a day train supposedly guarantees that when you board particular car of a particular train at a particular station there will be a seat for you. If you do not use a reservation, you gonna lose the reservation fee, but your ticket/pass is still going to be valid on a different train. Most trains don’t require reservation (although you may have trouble finding a seat), but some do, in which case you should save yourself trouble and purchase one before you get on board. In some countries, including Italy, all premium trains require reservation and that can be quite expensive. You can often avoid paying for it by taking slower “local” trains, which may, in fact, be slower by just a few minutes.
If you use Germain Railways online timetabe on you’ll see that some train are marked as “reservation required” and others as “reservation recommended.” The second means that the train is expected to fill up, and without reservation you may end up having to stand a whole or a part of your trip.

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The main issue is that some trains require reservations.  You may be fined and/or kicked off the train at the next stop if you’re on the train and don’t have a reservation — or the conductor will sell you a reservation that’s more costly than buying it at the train station because it includes a fine.  Overnight trains almost always require reservations or supplements.

In Italy there are numerous trains each day between the cities you mention.  Many of them require reservations, some of which are as expensive as the base ticket for the train.  While you can avoid reservations by taking slightly slower regional and local trains (usually add 1/2 to 1 hour to a 4 hour train ride), those trains can be very crowded.  Also, trains at prime times usually require reservations.  You may have to pay 18 euros for a reservation on EurostarItalia trains that leaves at 8:00 and 10:00 AM, 10 euros or so for the Intercity trains that leave at 9:00 and 11:00 and have to wait until noon to find a train that doesn’t require a reservation — which may be so packed you have to stand.