I am using a Eurail France/Italy pass for travel in July. An I taking a big chance by not making train reservations in advance for the trains that require it or can I do those at the train station the day of travel?
Thanks everyone for the input, greatly appreciated
I traveled by train for 2 weeks and never made a reservation ahead of time. However, this was in 1999 and I wasn't aware of any trains that you needed to reserve in advance (besides maybe a sleeping car). I prefer to travel without really set plans, seems more fun that way. :)
In Italy, rail pass holders must make a reservation and pay a supplement to ride on the express trains. However, these trains are rarely filled and reservation can usually be made on the day of travel, almost certainly the day before. It's a bit more problematic in France, where passholder reservations are limited in number and could be sold out, even when full fare tickets are still available for a train. I once heard (on this site) of passholders stranded for days in Brussels when passholder reservations for express trains were sold out. However, you can still travel without reservations, on much slower regional trains. "I prefer to travel without really set plans, seems more fun that way. " "Failing to plan is planning to fail"
Just to be clear -- ALL trains in Italy except the Regional trains require a seat reservation. The regional trains are like buses. Just get on and go. If you cannot find a seat, you stand till someone gets off. Rail pass generally are not cost effective in Italy.
Do you have set travel dates and desired departure times? If so, for the reasons given by Lee, for France it would be extremely wise to buy seat reservations now for trains that require them. You can buy them at raileurope.com. Trenitalia doesn't limit the number of seat reservations for pass holders on trains that require them. Just buy them at stations as needed as you go.