3. Know the rules for seat selection
There are lots of reasons you might want to sit in a particular place. Certain scenery might be easier to see from one side of the train. Maybe you’d like to be closer to the dining car, or farther away from the busy dome observation car.
On Amtrak, coach- and business-class seats are usually first-come, first-served. (A few routes, like Acela, have assigned seating in business class.) That’s a good reason to arrive early; Amtrak recommends doing so at least 30 minutes before departure. Conductors may move passengers around to let couples and families sit together, and to make sure passengers are on the right cars to disembark at smaller stations.
Private Amtrak rooms on overnight trains are pre-assigned when you book. If you’d rather have a different room location, you can call Amtrak customer service to request a move (though this is subject to availability).
In Europe, many of the most popular high-speed intercity trains, such as the Eurostar, allow you to reserve a seat or room when you buy your ticket. In fact, many require it. Shorter and slower routes are more likely to operate on a first-come, first-served basis.