Traveling by train in Europe is like traveling by plane. Same principles apply. Arrive as early as possible, keep your luggage close, travel comfortably, hope you have a window seat, find it, and relax.
Always check your ticket or reservation for the name of the train station. If you are in a small town, no problem, there may be just one or two stations; but go to a large city and there might be several stations. Double-check the name on your ticket or on your reservation. Most train stations are centrally located in a town or a city. There’s usually no problem for local busses or cabs to get you there directly. Plan to arrive around a half an hour early if possible so you don’t have to be rushing through crowds of people at peak travel times. Always carry local currency for tips and fares.
If you need to purchase your ticket once you arrive at the train station, be prepared for longer queues depending on what time of day that you are traveling. Never leave your luggage unattended or with a stranger, not even for a few minutes. If you have a rail pass and know how to use it, find your train platform or track number and wait to board. Remember that having a pass doesn’t guarantee a seat, so you should always have a reservation.
If not, check the departure panel, remembering that time is on the 24-hour clock. Follow the signs to your platform. Don’t forget that if you need a porter, you need to keep tip money on hand, as there’s nothing quite as crabby as a jilted porter. If you have any questions, ask a nearby concierge, that’s what they are there for.
Know if you are in coach or first class. The first class cars are first, the coach cars follow, their numbers clearly marked at the door of each train car. Seat numbers are just like they are in an airplane, located just above your seat. Luggage racks are everywhere, at the end of the car and at and around your seat. Sit tight and wait for the conductor to come around to show your ticket or rail pass along with your passport if you are on a train to a different country. That’s all that you will need to show the conductor, you won’t have to show a travel insurance policy or your travel medical insurance documentation, if you do, that’s not the conductor! It will suffice to keep all documentation on your person, however, in case of emergency.