Saturday, May 5, 2007

Hints on Trains


v Trains are oftentimes very useful and convenient.
Even if we have a rental car we some times use the train instead for day trips.

v Trains are lower stress. You don't have to worry about driving, getting lost, and parking.

v They enable all of you to see the sights instead of one person having to concentrate on the road, and the other person having to do navigation

v Cheaper than taxis or rental cars

v A rail pass is by far the easiest method of ticketing, but usually these have to be purchased before your trip. Tickets can often be purchased once you are on the train, and always at the train station. If there is a language barrier write out the "to from" path (e.g. Kyoto ----> Hiroshima), the train number (e.g. K101, and the departure time, what class you want (2nd class is usually fine, and smoking or non-smoking on a piece of paper.

v Once you are in the station with the ticket you need to find the right train. Look for signs that show your destination (or a major city that your train goes to or through), then for your particular train look for a track number (like the gate number for an airplane) and then
follow signs to that track.

v Just because a train is at your track doesn't mean it is your train. Sometimes other
trains will use that track and depart before your train pulls in. If there is doubt ask a conductor or wait until about 5 minutes before your train's departure time before you get on the train. Sometimes there will be signs by the track indicating the current train number and ultimate destination. This same advice applies to bus stops too--wait until near departure time before boarding if you are in doubt.

v A lot of luggage is a pain to drag around the train station and get on the train. It is usually possible to check baggage on a train, but in a foreign country that is a considerable challege to figure out. In general try to limit yourselves to what your group can comfortably carry or roll. Too much luggage can really detract from a vacation if you are moving a lot. It is much better to go light and buy something there if you really need it. You can wash out clothes in your hotel room and manage very well.

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