Most railway systems feature two classes of travel – First and Second class. As with air travel, First Class is more luxurious, and more expensive. Second Class is similar to coach, with comfortable seats and reasonable prices. There are some countries that still offer a Third Class, but it’s not recommended to travel in this manner unless you’re a die-hard adventurer living on a miniscule budget. Seriously.
When traveling via Eurail, you must book your reservations ahead of time. This isn’t a “hop on, hop off” operation. In fact, when you make your reservation, you’ll be booking your specific seat as well. Be sure to book well in advance, as trains fill up quickly. You can now book online at http://www.euraildirect.com/ .
It is highly recommended that non-Europeans purchase their Eurail Passes before arriving in Europe. Actually, this used to be the only way to obtain a pass at all. Now, it’s possible to purchase tickets in person at Rail Europe in London within 6 months of your trip, but you’ll have better luck with dates and times if you purchase further in advance. Outside of London, non-Europeans cannot purchase a pass in Europe.
Proof of identity is required to obtain your pass, and only the person issued the pass can use it. Your pass must be validated PRIOR to your first train trip, and you cannot validate the pass yourself.