I am traveling from Amsterdam to Paris in May, and I have already purchased my rail tickets on the Thalys train route. I would like to know if I need to have my tickets validated? I am not completely sure how this works if I do.
Can anyone shed some light on this?
In Europe you validate your ticket by stamping it at a little machine on the platform or in the station before you board. It is a simple procedure.
This is just a different way to require payment. Conductors do not come by to clip your ticket, but an inspector may check to see if you have validated it (and will fine you if you haven't).
It should be particularly easy to get help with this from passers-by or rail personnel in Amsterdam, where almost everybody speaks English. So don't feel shy about asking.
Thalys tickets don't require validation. Simply board the train and a conductor will inspect the ticket sometime en route.
Nicole, this page from the ETBD railpass section will answer your questions: www.ricksteves.com/rail/usepass.htm#validate.
so If I understand this correctly then, for my own knowledge for point to point tickets you don't have to validate but for passes you do?
Before using you rail pass the first time, go to any ticket counter and have them "validate" the pass. This puts a date on the pass indicating the start of the period of validity. They will also want to see your passport.
Each day you use the pass, before you get on the train, fill in the date for that day. Remember the Europeans use the day/month/year format. Also, an American "7" looks like a "1" to Europeans. Make sure you put a "crossbar" through the seven, or the conductor might claim it is a 1, and that you already used that date of travel. You will lose a day of your pass.
Regarding validating point to point tickets, it depends upon the country. In Italy and France, there are little yellow (Italy) and orange (France) machines that operate like old-fashioned time clocks. You slide your ticket into the machine and it stamps it. Onboard, the conductor will still come around and check your ticket. In Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands, you just hop on the train and wait for the conductor to punch your ticket. I don't have any first-hand knowledge for other countries. I've found it best to ask the ticket agent when I buy my ticket.