Most Americans have never traveled by train. Buying a train ticket can be frustrating and difficult at times. The most important piece of advice that one can take is to know the name of the destination in the native language. Many European cities have different names than the name in English. For instance, Florence is named Firenze in Italian. If one were to go to the train station and not know that the name of the destination is Firenze, one could become easily frustrated and lost.
At train stations, upcoming arrival and departure train times are always listed in the main entry of the train station; however, to find the train of a departing or arriving train that may come or leave in the next five hours, one must find either a computer kiosk where one can search for train times or find the posted train schedule.
Train schedules that are posted on a wall are sometimes difficult to read because they are daily schedules. Therefore, there will be small notations after some of the train times. A key, usually at the bottom of the schedule, says what these small notations mean. Some trains only come on weekdays or weekends or never on certain holidays. Therefore, it is always good to check what these notations mean before returning to the station to buy a ticket for a train. Nevertheless, seeing the price of the ticket is not possible on these schedules. Ticket prices vary even when the destination is the same. To buy that ticket, the traveler should approach the ticket office and say the destination and the time. At this time, the traveler can ask if the ticket is cheaper at certain times.
It is much easy to read the train schedules on computer kiosks because the computer can filter out the exceptions for when the train does not come. Therefore, if a person does a search for Vienna to Munich on a Monday afternoon, the train checks when that train will actually come, filtering out the exceptions. These kiosks usually state how much the ticket costs and one can compare prices. Also, at many computer kiosks, tickets can be purchased.
To arrive at certain cities, a traveler might have to take two trains, and train schedules might not necessarily make it clear how one should do this. If one is unsure about how best to arrive at a destination, it is always possible to go to the help desk or information center. People working at these desks usually will sell tickets as well.
It is always wise to buy a ticket a day in advance so that one does not need to worry about buying the ticket the day of the trip.