Tips for Train Travel in Italy

 Train

Traveling Italy by trains is inexpensive and convenient.  Italy’s train system has been said to be unreliable with trains that are constantly late and random rail strikes.  I’m not sure if this reputation is justly earned.  We’ve been traveling around Italy by train for over 10 years and have only experienced 2 train delays and 2 strikes.  The delays were never more than 10 minutes.  The strikes were inconvenient, but didn’t really put a big dent in our travel plans.

In my experience rail strikes in Italy are announced a day or so in advance, last no more than a day, and don’t mean that all train service is halted.  The strikes I’ve experienced have been on a Sunday and begin at 5:00 am ending sometime in the early evening.  Strikes seem to last just long enough to inconvenience local commuters who use the trains to visit families during the weekend.  During a strike there are always a limited number of trains running to and from major cities.

Trains are a great way to see Italy you just have to figure out how to use them.  For the first time visitor not familiar with trains and train stations it can be a bit daunting and confusing, but once you learn how to navigate train schedules, understand the system, and know how to buy tickets it’s quite simple. Here are a few things you should know about Italy’s train system and some tips for your Italy train adventure.

Italy’s Trains

Currently there are 2 main rail companies for intercity travel.  Trenitalia is the national train system operated by the state that runs regional and high speed trains connecting major cities to smaller towns throughout the country.  Its competitor NTV is a private company that started service just a little over a year ago. It runs 3 high speed routes (Venice-Florence-Rome, Turin-Milan-Florence-Rome-Naples-Salerno, Ancona-Rimini-Bologna-Milan).

There is also Trenord which is regional train company that was created in 2011.  It is responsible for operating the regional trains in the Lombardy area of northern Italy.  This company has both a regional line that connects the whole Lombardy district and a suburban line that connects Milan to its suburbs.  It also runs the Malpensa Express connecting the airport to Milan’s train stations.

Other train companies in Italy include the Circumvisuviana Railway which connects Naples to outlaying towns including Pompei and Sorrento,.  These trains are operated by EAV Campania the company who runs transportation in the Campania region of southern Italy.  The company runs 5 lines, one that runs around Vesuvious, one along the coast to Sorrento, and 3 others (including a cable car) that run from Naples to its suburbs.

ATAC is the company that runs most of the public transportation in Rome.  Along with operating Rome’s Metro system (the subway and buses)  ATAC  is also responsible for 3 railways including the Lido line which connects the city of Rome to its suburbs.  The Lido line is popular with tourists who wish to explore the ancient harbor in Ostia Antica.

Types of trains

High-Speed Trains – Both Trenitalia and NTV run high-speed trains that reach speeds of up to 300km/hr. and make few, if any, stops along their routes.  All high-speed trains require advance purchase and have a reservation/supplemental charge even if you have a railpass.  (see below for buying tickets and passes).  All seats on these trains are assigned at booking.

train

trainTrenitalia call their trains  Frecciarossa (red arrow). and Frecciargento (silver arrow).  There
are very little differences between the two, the name merely connotes the lines they travel.

 

Train

 

 

 

NTV calls all of its trains Italo.  These trains use the same train stations as the other trains operated by Trenitalia.

 

 

 

trainRegionale Trains (R) are much slower, make more stops,  and are less plush than high-speed trains.  They connect Italy’s provincial towns to major cities.  A faster alternative is the Regionale Veloce (RV) that are the same trains but make fewer stops.

Neither train require advance purchase, have no reservation or supplement fees, nor do they have assigned seats. The Leonardo Express that connects Rome’s Fiumicnio Airport to Rome and the Malpensa Express that connects that airport to Milan are this type of train.  These regional trains are operated by Trenitalia with the exception of the Malpensa Express that is run by Trenord.  You can use a first class railpass on the Leonardo Express, it is run by Trenitalia, but you must purchase a ticket for the Malpensa Express, it cost 12 Euro one-way or 18 Euro for a return.

Train

The Frecciabianca (white arrow) and Intercity (IC) trains have service between the high-speed and regional trains.They are slower than the high-speed trains and make more stops but make less stops than the regional trains. At times they mimic the high-speed train routes but make more stops to cities along the route, they also service towns and cities not on the high-speed routes. These trains require advance purchase, have reservation or supplement fees even if you have a rail pass, and have assigned seats.  They are more comfortable than regional trains which can get rather crowded but not as plush as the high-speed trains.

Train

Trenord trains service only the towns and cities in the Lombardy area.  They connect provincial towns to  Milan and also provide rail to and from Milan’s suburbs.  Tickets do not need to be purchased in advance and require no reservations or supplements.  There are no seat assignments however there are 1st. and 2nd. class tickets on some trains.

These trains are not included in Italy rail passes as they are operated by a different company.  They do run service to and from the same rail stations in Italy.   Tickets can be purchased on line from the Trenord E-store or app, and can be purchased from the train stations.

trainThe Circumvisuviana Railway run trains that will take tourists to Pompei and Herculaneum and also to Sorrento along the coast.  Most of their trains are not air conditioned but they are cheap to travel.  A ticket from Naples to Sorrento is about 4.50 Euro and 2.50 Euro/3.20 Euro for Herculaneum and Pompei respectively.

These trains do not run on the same lines as the other trains.  They come and go from a different station, not Napoli Centrale, Naple’s main train station.  You can easily reach the Circumvisuviana Train Station from Napoli Centrale via an underground walk way, just follow the signs.

These trains are not covered by an Italy Rail Pass, tickets can be purchased at the train station.  Once tickets are validated they are for 120 – 180 minutes depending on the ticket purchased.

The Lido Line operated by Rome’s ATAC is the only train that will take you Ostia Antica.  It does not run on the same lines as the state trains do but the easiest way to catch this train is from the Piramide Metro Station (serviced by Metro line B).  The metro and train station are combined here.  You can purchase train tickets from the station or tobacco shop.  It cost 1.50 Euro each way or it is covered by the Metro Day pass.


The choice of which class to travel is entirely up to you and your budget.  Second class tickets are comfortable enough for most people, after all you will reach your destination at the same time as first class passengers.  First class seats are generally wider and more plush than second class seats, some first class seats even recline and have footrests.  First class passengers are served complimentary beverages on high-speed trains.  Traveling first class is a nice upgrade if it fits your budget.

Train

Trains that require no reservations, charge no supplements, and have no assigned seating are all considered 2nd. class.  This includes all Trenitalia’s Regional and Regionale Veloce trains, ATAC’s Lido Line, and Circumvisuviana Railway.

These trains come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of different seating arrangements.  Rail pass holders can hop on any of these trains and just show their pass to the conductor.  You can purchase tickets for these trains at the station ticket counter or a self-serve kiosks anytime before the train departs.  For some routes like the Livorno Centrale to Pisa or Florence tickets can be purchased from the tobacco shop at the train station. These trains are very cheap.  A ticket from Livorno to Florence cost about 6 Euro and for the Lido Line to Ostia Antica 1.50 Euro.

Most, if not all, of these trains are not air conditioned nor do they have any type of beverage or food service.  If you’re going on a long train ride it’s best to bring your own food and drink aboard.

Trenord trains although they don’t have assigned seating have 1st. and 2nd. class tickets.  Carriages are marked with the service class which is also printed on your ticket.  You must ride in the carriage indicated on the class services of your ticket.  The difference is minor, first class has wider more comfortable seats and first class carriages are less crowded.  Malpensa Express tickets are all considered 1st. Class and are marked as such, but the cars do not indicate any particular type of service and the seats are all the same.

Italo High-Speed trains have 3 classes of service: descriptions courtesy of Seat61.com

  • Smart = 2nd class, the cheapest option, with leather reclining seats arranged 2+2 across the width of the car.  Free WiFi, power sockets, small table.  Vending machines for snacks & coffee.
  • Prima = 1st class, with leather reclining seats arranged 2+1 across the width of the car.  Complimentary drinks and snacks, free WiFi, power sockets, small table.  At extra cost, you can pre-book lunch or dinner or order it on board, served at your seat.
  • Club = Premium 1st class, leather reclining armchairs with 9″ touch-screen entertainment system in an exclusive area at the end of each train.  Hostess service, free WiFi, power sockets.  At extra cost, you can pre-book lunch or dinner or order it on board, served at your seat.

Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa trains have 4 classes of service, tickets must be purchased ahead of time, seating is assigned, and a supplemental reservation fee is charged.  If you purchase your tickets online or at the station the reservation fee is included in the price you pay, if you have a rail pass you will be charged the 10 Euro supplemental fee when you make reservations.  Rail pass holders can reserve the class of their rail pass (1st. class pass = business class, 2nd. class pass = standard class)

trainStandard – 2nd. Class carriages are furnished with cloth covered seats that are arranged 2×2 along both sides of the train car with a table in between the seats.   Passengers can purchase meals or snacks at the bar/restaurant cars.

trainPremium has the same seat arrangement as the standard class but are in leather instead of cloth. Passengers are served a welcome drink of coffee, tea, juice, or wine and can purchase meals or snacks at the bar/restaurant cars.

 

 

 

TrainBusiness – 1st. Class has 2 leather seats on one side of the aisle and 1 on the other with tables in between. The seats are roomier with more elbow room but the legroom is the same as standard and premium classes.  Business class also has 2 fully enclosed private rooms that will seat 4.  Rooms can be booked for small groups who want to have a meeting on the move.  Business passengers are served a welcome drink of coffee, tea, juices, and wine and can purchase snacks and meals at the bar/restaurant cars.

 

trainExecutive – Premium 1st. Class cars  have 8 seats very comfortable reclining seats at one end of the car and a meeting room that sits 6 at the other end.  The seats are arranged in a row of 4 single seats on either side of the aisle.  Every seat has a folding tray table in the armrest and foot rests when the seat is reclined. The Executive class car has a dedicated steward who serves a complimentary cold meal or snack as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  Of course executive class passengers have access to the bar/restaurant car if they wish to purchase a hot meal.

 

All passengers can pretty much bring as much luggage as they can carry.  Luggage can be stowed on the over head racks, except in Executive class which has no racks.  They can also be stowed between the seats in standard, premium, and business class, and all classes can store luggage on the racks at the end of each car by the doors.

Some trains in this category have a restaurant car with waiter service.  Fixed 3 course meals that include a salad or pasta, main course (meat with a veggie), and dessert run around 30 Euro per person.  Small bottles of wine can also be ordered for about 10 Euro each.  These trains usually also have a cafe bar.

Other trains only have a cafe bar car where you can purchase alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, and hot and cold sandwiches. You can check to see what food services your train will have on the Trenitalia site.

Trenitalia’s Ferocciargento and Ferocciabianca have 2 classes of service, 1st. and 2nd., tickets must be purchased in advance, seating is assigned and a supplemental reservation fee is charged.  If you purchase tickets online or at the station reservation fee is included in the price, if you have a rail pass you will be charged the 10 Euro reservation fee when you make reservations, class of service will equal to the class of your pass.  

trainThese trains aren’t as plush as the Ferocciarossa trains.  All seats are cloth covered with first class arranged 2 on one side of the aisle and 1 seat on the other with a table in between seats.

 

 

 

 

train2nd. class seats are arranged 2 on either side of the aisle.  Luggage is stored much the same way as they are on the Ferocciarossa trains on overhead racks, between seats, and the luggage racks at the end of each car.

 

 

 

 

First class passengers are served a complimentary beverage and a packet of cookies or crackers.

Passengers can purchase beverages or snacks from the refreshment trolly or cafe car, there are no restaurant cars with waiter service on these trains and not all Ferocciabiaca trains have a cafe car.

Trenitalia’s Inter-City (IC) trains have 2 classes of service, 1st. & 2nd., tickets must be purchased in advance, and seating is assigned although rail pass holders can just hop on without reservations or they can purchase reservations for 3 Euro each way and have a seat assigned.  Tickets purchased online or at the station include the reservation free of charge.

trainDepending on the train seats can be arranged in compartments with 6 seats per compartment with the corridor on the side in both 1st. and 2nd. class.  First class seats are wider and more comfy. This picture from seat61.com is a of a 1st. class compartment.

 

 

 

 

trainOther trains have this center aisle arrangement much like the other trains Trenitalia operate.  Pictured is from seat61.com is the open plan 2nd. class car.

Some Inter-City trains have a refreshment trolley that comes down the aisles selling beverages and snacks.  There are no bar or restaurant cars on these trains.

 


 

Buying Tickets & Rail Passes

Rail Passes must be purchased in advance before you go to Europe.  You can buy them from travels agents or online from sites such as Italiarail.com or Eurail.com.  If you are NOT a resident of Europe, Russia, or Turkey, and a few other other countries you can buy a EURail Pass.  You can choose to buy a pass that will allow you train travel in 1 or more EU countries i.e. All Italy pass, France & Italy, Global (all EU countries), etc. Passes can be purchased for 3, 4, 5, or 8 day travel within a month.  You can buy either 1st. or 2nd. class passes.  Youth (12-25) are discounted for 2nd. class passes, children up to the age of 11 travel free (1 child per  paying adult), and groups of 2-5 people traveling together can purchase a saver pass.  See Italiarail.com for more info and a list of countries that are eligible for EURail passes.

If you are a European resident or residents of countries listed on the site that are ineligible for EURail passes you may purchase an InterRail Pass.  See Italiarail.com for more info.

Train passes are good for travel on National Railway Systems in the countries they are for, i.e. All Italy passes are good on Trenitalia trains.  They are not accepted by private train companies including NTV, Trenord, ATAC, and Circumvisuviana Railway.  They are also not valid on night trains. However some passes are eligible for discounts on some of the private train companies.

Rail Pass holders must still pay a reservation supplemental fee to travel on trains that have assigned seating.  10 Euro per trip on all Trenitalia’s high-speed trains and 3 Euro for the Inter-City trains.  In short even if you have a rail pass you can not just hop on a high-speed train, except on Inter-City trains where reservations are optional for pass holders.  The class of service of  the pass determines the class of service you can reserve on these high-speed trains.  You can buy reserved seats on high-speed trains either at the train station (ticket booth or self-serve kiosks) or online from sites such as italiarail.com if you know your specific travel dates.

Pass holders can also get discounts on some ferries, buses,  hotels, museums, and other attractions.

Having said this are Rail Passes cheaper than buying point-to-point tickets?  The answer to that would depend on what your travel plans are.  Passes give you the flexibility to change plans, unless you plan to travel on trains requiring reservations, in which case you may have to pay another reservation fee should you miss your train or change your plans.  Passes are worth their price if you plan to do extensive traveling in one or more countries during the month your pass is valid, plan to travel long distances, and don’t mind taking the slower regional trains that don’t require a reservation.

Bear in mind that your pass is only good for the number of days you purchased, and realistically how many cities and towns can you travel to each day.  (Passes are valid for one month from the day you first used it, not from when you purchased it. Travel days do not have to be consecutive, they just have to be within that month. Day begins at 12:01 am and ends a midnight.  If you must change trains anytime after midnight the next train is counted as another day on your pass.)

If you are only going to be visit one or two cities and/or intend to use mostly high-speed trains or private train companies such as Trenord the passes aren’t worth it, just buy point-to-point tickets.

trainPoint-to-Point  tickets on high-speed trains are for travel on a specific date to a specific place, i.e. Rome-Venice.  If you know your travel dates and have no plans to change them, barring emergencies, you can purchase tickets in advance from your travel agent or online from sites such as italiarail.com.  These tickets can be purchased 120 days in advance.

If you are not sure about your dates then buy your tickets from the train station from the ticket booth or the self-serve kiosk.

Prices for these tickets include the reservation fee and will give you an assigned seat in a specific carriage.

You may have to pay a fee to change travel plans.

If you purchase tickets online you will be sent an E-ticket that will have your seat and carriage number on it.  Print this out or save it to your mobile device, you will need to show this to the train conductor.

trainIf tickets are purchased at the station you will receive a paper ticket that will have your class of service, carriage and seat number printed on it. Be sure to validate this ticket BEFORE you get on the train.  (see below about validating train tickets)

 

 

Point-to-Point tickets for regional trains or any train not requiring a reservation and do not have assigned seats can be purchased anytime before the train’s scheduled departure from the train station. These are open tickets (they don’t have specific dates or trains on them)  they become valid only once they are validated at one of the machines at the station and are valid for travel during the time stamped on the ticket.   In short if you purchase a ticket on Monday then decide not to travel until the next day your ticket is good as long as you have not validated it.  These tickets however will have your destination printed on in i.e.  from Roma Termini – Civitavecchia, once you validate it you may travel from your point of origin to your destination during the time that is stamped on the ticket, this means that technically you can hop off a train enroute and hop back on another train heading to your destination so long as you do this within the time frame stamped on your ticket.

trainDuring our trip to Italy last month we were able to purchase train tickets from Livorno to Florence from the tobacco shop at the train station.  Instead of the regular paper train ticket shown above we were given this open ticket that is good for travel in the Tuscany reagion of Italy.  This ticket is good for 6 hours once it is validated, meaning you can travel on whatever train in the region during this time span.  You can realistically use the same ticket say from Florence to Pisa (quick photo stop at the tower), then back to Lucca, and possibly return to Florence, all for 6.20 Euro!

We’ve traveled by train in Italy (and in France) and have used both rail passes and point-to-point tickets.  When we base ourselves in one city, say Rome, and take at least 3 day trips to far cities, i.e. Rome-Milan-Rome, Rome-Venice-Rome, etc.  the passes are worth it, we just pay reservation fees when we want to take high-speed trains.  (The daily cost of a 1st. class rail pass breaks down to $66 add to that the 10 Euro reservation fee – about $12 – the total cost for high-speed train travel from Rome to Venice with return the same day is $93 vs. $115 for a one way ticket for the same class – that’s $230 for a round trip).

If we don’t plan to make day trips to far away cities or just need to get to a specific city to catch a cruise ship or plane then passes make no sense.  We just buy the tickets we need when we need them.

Best suggestion is to do your math before you buy a rail pass!

At the train station

Most stations have a ticket office (expect really small ones in small towns), a snack bar, a tobacco shop, restrooms (they cost 1 Euro to use), a police station, and a taxi cue in front. The main stations have a shopping mall with fast food joints, restaurants, department stores, and more.  Italy’s main train stations that are frequented by tourists are:

trainRoma Termini in Rome is connected to Rome’s Metro (subway) via underground walkways.  It serves as the transfer point for the Metro’s A & B lines.

 

 

 

 

trainNapoli Centrale in Naples is connected to the Circumvisuviana Railway via an underground walkway.

 

 

trainFirenze Santa Maria in Florence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

trainVenezia Santa Lucia in Venice is the gateway to the city.  Its main exit takes you right to the Grand Canal. Breathtaking!

 

 

 

train Milano Centrale in Milan is connected to Milan’s Metro via an underground walkway.

 

 

 

 

 

train This year they have installed security gates to the train platforms at the major train stations.  Only passengers with train tickets are allowed onto the platforms.  Be prepared to show your tickets (paper and E-tickets) or rail passes to the guard.

Some stations have bars, shops, and restrooms located within the platform area.  They also have vending machines where you can stock up on beverages, candies, chips, and sandwiches.

 

 

trainIf you have any type of paper ticket you MUST VALIDATE your ticket before you get on the train.  Validation machines are located through out station and on the platforms.  These machines will time-stamp your ticket, it is not valid until it is stamped.  Failing to validate your ticket could be a costly mistake as there is a fine imposed for people traveling with an unvalidated ticket.

The machines pictured on the left can validate whatever ticket you have even if it is for a different company.  The yellow ones are on every platform in Milano Centrale and at the stations in the Lombardy area.  The green ones are Trenitalia’s machines, they do the same thing the yellow ones do, stamp point of departure, date, and time.

 

Train

If you have an E-ticket either printed out or saved to your mobile device you don’t have to validate them.  Just board the train and show it to the conductor, he just needs the PNR number printed on the top of the ticket.

If you have a rail pass you must go to a ticket counter at any train station on the first day you will travel.  Present your pass and passport.  They will validate the pass with the date, the pass is valid for 30 days once it is validated.  Each day you will travel using the pass you must write down the date of travel in INK at the corresponding day on the pass, you do not have to travel on consecutive days, you just have to travel within the 30 day period.  Date format should be day/month, i.e. Day 1 – 24/10, Day 2 – 27/10, etc.

 

trainYou will find time tables posted at the train stations and on most platforms.  It will show all the trains leaving from that station every day.  It will show what type of train (AV/ES- high speed, IC – intercity, R – regional, RV – Regionale Veloce), Train Number, Train’s route – point of origin, stops, and destination, Time it departs from the station, and track (binario) from which it NORMALLY leaves from.

Trains are listed by the hour (Blue heading) beginning from the first train departing in the morning and ending with the last departure.  If your are looking at a time table with red headings you are looking at arriving trains!

Check your train number and check your stop, unless you are going to the train’s final destination you will need to know when and where to get off.  Trains are posted on the tracks according to their final destination, they may not always show the stops in between, your ticket can say Rome to Bologna, but if the train you are taking goes all the way to Venice it will say Train #— to Venezia S.L.  This can be confusing if you’re looking for a train going to Bologna!  So check the time table posted for your train number, its final destination, and the stops in between.  You may have to count which number stop you must get off as the stops are not always announced on the train, or you may not understand the announcement, this is particularly true on the older regional trains.

trainEven though you see what track your train will depart from on the time table you MUST still check on the departure board to make sure it is the correct track.  They have been known to change tracks at the last minute, so you won’t really know which track you need until it’s posted on the board.  You will find these boards at the train station before the security gate and on the platform once you enter the secured area.  Don’t worry you can’t miss it, it’s where you see a crowd of people looking up!

Double check the track just before your departure time as they have also been known to change tracks after they’ve posted it.  If they do change tracks they will make an announcement, but most of the time it’s difficult to understand even when they make the announcement in English.

Be sure you are looking at departing trains – Partenze!

trainEvery track will have a lighted sign that posts the train number, time of departure, and final destination of the train leaving from that track. Be sure to check this sign before hopping on the train.  And remember your stop may not be the final destination that’s why it’s important to check the time table to find out your train’s final destination and which stop you must get off.   So don’t panic if the sign says Venezia when your ticket says Verona – as long as you know that’s your train number you can hop on and get off when it stops in Verona.

If you going on a high-speed train from one of the main train stations they usually depart from the lower numbered tracks located from the left side to center area of the platform, usually 3-7 in the main stations.  These tracks have signs corresponding to the train carriages.  Check your ticket for your carriage number and board the train from the corresponding number on the track.

Regional trains generally leave from the extreme right or left sides of the platforms, either tracks 1 & 2 and 20 and above at the larger main stations such as Milano Centrale.

If the train door is not open and you’re ready to hop onboard press the button or lever by the door to open it.  You can place your luggage on the racks located at the end of each train car or stow it in the rack above your seat.  If you have assigned seats find your seat and settle in.  If there are no seat assignments just find a vacant seat.

All trains have restrooms located at one end of most cars which you can use once the train is in motion, many are locked while the train is at the station.  Trains with bar and/or restaurant cars will make an announcement when those cars are opened.  You can move freely between cars at anytime although if you have a 2nd. class ticket you will more than likely be asked to leave a first class carriage.

Security

The recent addition of security gates in the major train stations is designed to reduce petty theft on the platform.  I’m not sure how much of a deterrent they are for serious criminals determined on causing mayhem, they can easily buy a ticket for any train.  But they do seem to reduce the number of pickpockets, scammers, and petty thieves that roamed the platforms in the past.  But remember not all stations have security gates so you must be ever vigilant.

You and your belongings may be safer once you reach the platform, but before you enter the secure area you are fair game to the multitude of thieves that hang out at train stations preying on confused and tired travelers.  They are everywhere!  Particularly in the major train stations.  Recently I’ve seen women and children begging at the McDonald’s at Roma Termini, but those you already know to beware of.

The ones to avoid are those trying to be “helpful”.  Last year when we traveled with our daughter and grandkids we had a huge amount of luggage, there were 6 of us.  I can’t remember how many strange  women approached us to “help” us with our luggage at Roma Termini.  When we declined they kept returning, each time bringing even more women, and in the end men, with them.  They were looking for the opportunity to grab anything.  We literally had to form a circle around our luggage on the platform to keep them at bay!  At least the security gates have kept them off the platforms!

This year, I guess to make up for lack of income they got from the platforms, they have a new scam.

We were approached by many people, both men and women, offering to show us how to work the self-serve ticket machines.  If you do need help look for a Trenitalia employee, they were vests that clearly say “Trenitalia” on them, or head to the ticket counter, or ask a policeman or guard in uniform, they’re everywhere in the station and on the platform.

If you plan on having a bite before your train leaves keep your belonging close, be sure you can see them at all times, and most importantly they are within arm’s reach.  Do not leave your purse or other belongings hanging on the back of a chair, if possible keep purses on your lap while you eat.

Don’t carry your backpack on your back, keep it where you can see it.  I have seen thieves opening a backpack on the owner’s back, the owner was unaware of the impending theft.  My husband yelled at the thieves and informed the would be victim of what almost happened.

Men should wrap wallets in a rubber band and place them in a FRONT pocket to avoid pickpockets.  The rubber band keeps the wallet in place, try removing such a wallet from your pocket and see what happens.

Keep purses, backpacks, fanny packs, etc. zipped up.  If your purse has a snap or clasp opening keep the opening side facing your body.  If possible wear purses and such across your body to avoid someone from snatching it.

Keep important documents, passports, ID’s, money, credit cards, train and airline tickets, etc. in a separate pouch that you can keep secure in a breast pocket if possible.  Don’t keep large amounts of cash in your wallet, just in case you get pick pocketed hopefully you won’t loose everything.  Always have a copy of your passports and IDs keep it in a separate bag, it will be helpful in replacing the originals.  If possible carry only copies with you and keep the originals secure in the hotel safe.  Trust me I was pick pocketed in Copenhagen 10 years ago, it wasn’t fun.  Luckily they didn’t take much money and didn’t take my passport.

If you are buying tickets from the machines keep luggage and purses IN FRONT of  you or have a companion watch them.  I witnessed a lady loose her suitcase at one of these machines, by the time we both realized what had happened the thief was gone.

When you get on the train keep your belonging in sight.  Loosing luggage on a train is rare, specially now that security gates have been installed at the major hot spots, but it’s not impossible.  Remember thieves can buy tickets too!

When you arrive at your final destination and need a taxi head for the taxi cue located outside the main entrance.  Taxis at the cue are licensed by the local government, their tariffs are posted in the car, they have numbered badges for IDs, and use meters.  DO NOT get into a cab that is not in the taxi cue and DO NOT accept help from a tout telling you he can get you a taxi without waiting in the long cues.  These are gypsy cabs not licensed as taxis by the government!  They do not use a meter and will charge you whatever they want once you reach your destination and you will not have a choice but to pay because they hold your luggage hostage until you pay what they ask!  Before you get on any taxi ask how much it will cost and ask to see the meter, once inside make sure the driver turns the meter on!

Don’t walk around train station areas at night, if you must keep to the main streets and exit from the main station exit.  Most stations attract a variety of derelicts and criminals lying in wait for the unsuspecting tourist.

Most of the things I’ve listed to keep you safe are common sense things that we all practice at home, but when you’re on holiday sometimes you let your guard down.  But with a bit of vigilance you can enjoy your train ride and your vacation without falling victim to petty theft.

If you have any questions feel free to comment here or shoot me an email.  I’m happy to help fellow travelers!


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