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Couchette for family of 5 traveling overnight Vienna-Venice

Our family of five - two adults and three teenagers - will be taking the night train from Vienna to Venice in June. We have eurrail global passes. My question is about accommodations for five people. Because of price and safety (we would all be in the same room), we would like to book a couchette. How have people done this with 5 people? We would really rather not have some random person sleeping in the 6th bunk if that's possible. We are friendly, but it seems weird with just one person. I have researched this (I have scoured the seat61 site in particular because his tips are so thorough) and I can't find many solutions. Some that I've found are:

1) Book a 6 bunk couchette by paying the reservation fees for the five of us and buy a ticket for a ghost on the 6th bunk.

2) Book a 4 bunk couchette, assuming that 4/5 of us will be placed in a room together. The 5th person can sleep on the floor instead of their assigned couchette.

3) Book a 2-bed sleeper and a 3-bed sleeper and hope that they are near each other.

While I am at it, what are general opinions about which site to book our reservations through? I'd like to book these as soon as possible.

Thank you!

Posted by
20469 posts

Option 3 is most expensive, but most practical. At least you will not have to listen to the teen age complaining if they're in the other compartment.
Option 1 is most economical and you need to do this or you might end up with a stranger joining you.
Option 2? OK, who gets stepped on when someone has to use the bathroom in the middle of the night? Can teenagers disown you?
The train is operated by Austrian Railways. Are compartments available? DB says couchettes only.

Posted by
19170 posts

According to the Bahn website, EN 237, which leaves Vienna at 21:36 for Venice has both compartments and couchettes.

"2nd class only seated accommodation , Global price , Reservation optional , Sleeping-car , Couchettes"

According to Austrian Rail, the train has single and double compartments, no triples.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for the help! So if I were to purchase the 6th bed in a 6-bunk couchette, how would I do that?

Since five of us have rail passes and the sixth person is a ghost - can I do that all at the same time (I'm assuming I need to do that so that we all "6" get into the same couchette)? Do They ask for a name of the person in the sixth bed? Would I put one of our names twice?

Our kids are good travelers - I'm not so much worried about all of us crammed together for one night. And I'm still open to that 4-berth option also, especially if it's cheaper to do 5 couchette reservations at the 4-berth rate rather than 5 couchette reservations at the 6-berth rate plus the full cost of the sixth ticket for. Would they really let someone sleep on the floor?

Posted by
16894 posts

In order to book all 6 beds, I think you must work with a live agent, either in the US or in a train station in Europe. You can email Karen, who operates Euraide's outpost in Boston, at [email protected] or you can call Rail Europe at 800-438-7245. Both agencies have fees for personal handling and for shipping. If booking online, you'd have to make up a name, which does not sound like a good idea.

I don't believe that you need a 6th ticket, just a 6th reservation in the 6-passenger couchette, but that theory has not been re-confirmed for a long time. Conductors should not let you have 5 people in a quad unless one person is under age 4 and therefore allowed to share your bed. If you book the quad, then send an adult to sleep separate from the group.

Posted by
20469 posts

I put this question directly to Thello last year. There was no railpass involved, but they stated directly that in order to guarantee that only a group of 5 would occupy the couchette, I had to pay for all 6 bunks. I'd say book 5 with railpass reservation and one without railpass.
You might start by contacting OEBB using their contact form. https://www.oebb.at/en/Services/Contact/index.jsp

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all for your help!

The answer - according to the OEBB customer service department - turned out to be to buy a 6th ticket. Since they only ask for ages, we bought a sixth ticket with the same birthdate as our youngest. I don't exactly understand how the pricing worked, but this addition of a sixth phantom person turned out to be almost nothing. I don't know if because of his age his ticket would be quite cheap or free anyway, but we essentially only paid for the couchette bunk plus a couple of dollars. I think in the end it was $26 more than if we had only five of us. I will take it!

Thank you so much!

Posted by
8245 posts

Michelle: I'm sorry you already bought your ticket.

The Alps make traveling from Vienna to Venice very difficult. I was thinking travel between those cities required a train, then a public bus and then another train when you hit the Italian border. It just doesn't make for a very pleasant night's trip. In fact, it's a difficult trip in the daytime too. It's a 350 to 400 mile trip, according to which way the route goes.

The preferred way of travel is by Austrian Airlines between those great cities.

Good luck to you.

Posted by
33336 posts

David,

I'm afraid that your answer is wrong in this case.

The 2136 train mentioned by Lee is one train all the way through. And it both leaves Vienna at a quite civilised hour it also gets to Venice, all the way to Venezia Santa Lucia, at a very civilised hour in the morning.

I don't ride night trains anymore but if I did, and if I already had a Global pass for the family, that is one train that I would seriously consider.

No buses, just the one train door to door.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you, David and Nigel.

I did price the airfare between Vienna-Venice but it was quite a bit higher than the train fare. Additionally, we would need to pay for a hotel room in that case. Since night trains seem to be disappearing, the high schoolers decided that they'd like to cross this one off their bucket while they still can. This leg will be about halfway through a busy three week trip, so we are counting on everyone being so tired that exhaustion and movement beat out claustrophobia and noise, and make for a comfortable-enough night of sleep for all of us. I really appreciate the input.

Posted by
33336 posts

report back and let us know how it went, and how you and yours felt about the trip, please....

Posted by
14580 posts

@ Michelle...OeBB (Austrian Rail) gave you and your family the best deal for this ride. In your position I would have done likewise. Your high schoolers will be glad to know that taking night trains still is an option in Germany and Central Europe, ie Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw too. These are indicated as EN or CNL trains direct.

Posted by
23 posts

I've enjoyed following this post. I just want you to know that this sounds the coolest adventure for your family! Now it's on MY bucket list!