How long in advance do we have to make our reservations?

  • 6 July 2022
  • 6 replies

Good afternoon everyone,

I been considering getting a rail pass and visit a few countries for some time now and I was ready to do it and start my trip next week. The thing is that I wasn’t aware that some reservations (according to this website) have to be made like two or three months in advance. Is that so? 

I was planning to start off in Paris, then go to Colmar, from there to Munich, and then to Berlin and maybe a couple more cities. 

Is it a crazy idea to get the pass now and start travelling next week or should I leave that for next year and plan it more carefully? (BTW, I hate planning things!)

Thanks a lot for your advice. 



Best answer by Al_G 6 July 2022, 18:17

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6 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Depends on season and country. THE bottlenecks are ESpana-but as Usted es Espanol, just visit RENFE. Then comes the €* LON-Paris/Ams-you do not mention that. TGV in FRancia and even more those going over border are bottleneck #2-but can be avoided by hopping over border by local tren.

You did not mention how to reach Paris from ESpana, that is thus, and the TGV IN France (like to Strasbourg or Colmar) run often ev hour or so-so can usually be found with seats in a few days if not too picky about times-being a bit flexible is always a good idea.

Just click on top for help-and find the long list with Info per country-or find the ALternative list by seewulf on howtodoit by yourself for lower price.

IF you also prebook all HTLs etc and thus are tied in to dates-then it might be wiser to simply book advance tickets on that railway-or use a flite if that turns out better buy/timing-etc


mcadv, thanks a lot for the answer.

I still haven’t booked anything because I was worried I might not be able to catch a train. When it comes to times (hours) I am totally flexible and I was planning to fly in to Paris from Bilbao, where I live. 

I would check the list you mention in the message.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

As long as you can be flexible enough to deal with the possibility that you may not be able to have the exact connections you want then there is no reason you cannot travel with little pre-booking.

There are more challenges with last minute travel, particularly finding good hotels at reasonable prices but you shouldn’t be put off by the people who post here in a panic acting like a single fully reserved train is a disaster that will ruin their lives.

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

If you are flexible and have the time to use the slower regional trains then it sounds like a nice idea to go Interrailing this summer.


Here is some useful information from the experienced travellers in the Community regarding both planning, reservations and activation of pass and travel days. 



The rail planner is normally not up to date, as it only is updated once a month, so to be sure of the time table you better check the timetable and availability on the websites of the national railways. The bigger national railways, like DB (Germany) SBB (Switzerland) and ÖBB (Austria) cover several countries. 



The advice from the experienced travellers in the community is to use other ways to make reservations than the Interrail/Eurail website.  You can look at the guide in the link:

If you, after having looked at the guide, have questions about how to make specific reservation, please give your travel details (departure date, time and route) preferably in a new topic, and you will get advice.

Please note that Interrail/Eurail charges an extra fee of 2 EUR per person and ticket in addition to the fee for the seat reservation.


Activation of pass

During the activation process, when you choose the start day of the validity of the pass, the first day of the validity period is automatically made a travel day, even if you don't enter a journey, the advice is therefore not to activate the pass before the first travel day as you only can deactivate the pass before 00.00 on the day the validity starts. If your travel plans change in the last moment you will loose travel days if you have activated the pass in advance.

It can be wise to make a test and activate the pass with a start date well in the future and then deactivate the pass immediately, just to see that everything works.


 Activation of travel day

The advice from the experienced travellers in the community is also never to activate a travel day, that is connect a journey to your pass, until just before boarding the train, otherwise you might loose a travel day if your travel plans change in a late stage  You can't delete a travel day in the past. A travel day can only be deleted until 23.59 CET the day before the travel day.

Thanks AI_G and AnnaB for your advice. I think I am going to give it a try. I am already trying to book the visit to the Newschwain castle. I loooooove castles. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Thanks AI_G and AnnaB for your advice. I think I am going to give it a try. I am already trying to book the visit to the Newschwain castle. I loooooove castles. 

If have any more questions, just ask here in the Community. I hope that you will have a nice trip and enjoy many castles.