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Frequently Asked Questions

1. GENERAL INFORMATION

Why travel by train?

Travelling by rail is a great way to experience the UK, the Continent - and further afield. On a train you can get up and stretch your legs, visit the buffet car for refreshments, or simply sit back in your comfortable, reserved seat and enjoy the spectacular, ever-changing scenery as you speed to your destination. By rail you can experience sights that cannot be seen any other way: from panoramic coastal routes to a journey through majestic Alpine scenery or along spectacular gorges, the train provides the ideal viewpoint.

If you haven't ventured into Europe by rail before, you will be pleasantly surprised by how little time it takes to reach your destination. Travellers arriving at St Pancras International are whisked through check-in and can be relaxing in their seats on board Eurostar within half an hour. The journey to Paris now takes just over two hours and the journey to Brussels just under two hours.

When is the best time to go?

It depends entirely on your destination, and what sort of weather you like. If you prefer to avoid the hottest part of the year, then try not to travel in July and August - though northern Europe is generally cooler than southern Europe. The Alps also tend to stay a little cooler over the summer, thanks to their altitude. On the other hand, the closer to the main summer season you go, the better the chances of getting some sun! If you are travelling to countries in the Southern Hemisphere, don't forget that the period from February to April is their autumn, and September to November is spring.

Many of our winter tours are to countries with colder climates. Naturally we can't guarantee snow, but our Tour Advisors will help you choose a departure date to suit you - whether you want to see beautiful winter scenery under a blanket of snow, or meadows full of colourful springtime flowers.

Are they holidays for rail enthusiasts?

Our customers book with us because they appreciate the comfort and relaxation of travelling by train and look upon the journey as part of their holiday, rather than because they are rail enthusiasts. Our holidays attract customers with a wide range of interests and they are not designed specifically for enthusiasts, however as many of the destinations included in our holidays are selected for their excellent railway connections and excursions, rail enthusiasts will find much to interest them.

On occasions travel is on Sundays or public holidays - can I expect extended journey times and disruption as in the UK?

No. Other than in the UK, principal trains throughout the world run to the same schedules every day of the week. The infrastructure in place ensures that engineering works, including major renewals and upgrading, generally have little impact on train running.

Do you organise rail holidays in the UK?

Yes! We offer a great selection of holidays within the UK to destinations such as the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Wales, Yorkshire, the Isle of Man, Norfolk and the south coast.

2. ABOUT OUR HOLIDAYS

What's the difference between a First Class and a Standard Class itinerary?

"First Class" and "Standard Class" refers to the class of rail travel which you will primarily use. First Class is always more spacious and includes meals and drinks on certain journeys - as noted in the itinerary. Whilst slightly less spacious, Standard Class accommodation in Europe is generally still more comfortable than you may be used to in the UK.

What facilities will my hotel have?

Our hotels are carefully selected to provide keen value for money, a warm welcome with high quality service and comfortable rooms, all in convenient locations with amenities close at hand.

We indicate the official star rating and provide a short description of each hotel on the 'Hotels' tab found on our tour pages. The hotel description details its location and facilities to help you decide if the hotel is suitable for your needs. Most hotel bedrooms on GRJ independent holidays are equipped with a private bathroom, telephone and colour television, with the exception of certain specialty accommodation such as safari lodges. Many hotels also offer hairdryers, minibars, safes, tea and coffee making facilities and so on and where these are available, they will be detailed in the 'Hotels' section. If you have any further questions about the hotel included on your tour, please do not hesitate to telephone us on 01904 521936.

Full details about the facilities available at all of our hotels will be forwarded to you with your holiday documentation.

3. SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

What do you do about special requests for diets or rooms?

Any requests for special diets or room allocations must be requested at the time of booking. We pass rooming and dietary requirements on to the relevant hoteliers and suppliers, who will do their best to help. Please advise our staff as early as possible when booking.

What about other special requests?

We do our best to provide a holiday that will suit your individual needs. Please do not hesitate to contact one of our Tour Advisors to discuss any special requirements you may have.

Can I make this a surprise holiday for someone?

We will be happy to help you arrange a surprise holiday! Please note that we are not able to send out your documents in plain envelopes, so if you live at the same address as the person you wish to surprise, please supply us with an alternative address so that the Great Rail Journeys envelopes don't give the game away! Any requests of this nature should be made at the time of booking. Do make sure to give us a telephone number which it is "safe" to call, and remember to let us know when the secret is out!

4. MOBILITY AND SUITABILITY

I'm not sure if this is the right holiday for me…

Please read the section Essential Information advising you of what to expect on your journey and do not hesitate to contact our office on 01904 521936 if you have any further questions.

We are conscious that our holidays are not suitable for everyone, not only in terms of personal taste but in the ability to cope with the demands of a particular holiday. Although our itineraries are designed to be conducted at a leisurely pace, they can also be physically demanding. Typical issues include the lack of a lift in a particular hotel, altitude, climatic conditions and so on. We want to ensure that all our customers have an enjoyable holiday!

We have a Mobility team within the office who will be happy to provide guidance about our holidays and answer any further questions you may have about a specific holiday. Please advise us before any booking is made if anyone in your party has a medical condition or disability that may affect your/their holiday arrangements or if there are any health or fitness concerns which may affect your/their ability to cope. Please also remember to advise us of any changes to mobility or fitness levels between booking your holiday and travelling.

What type of suitcase should we take?

Recommended suitcase dimensions

As porterage is not included on all of our tours, you will need to carry your own case on and off trains, and find somewhere to stow it once on board. With that in mind, we suggest the following dimensions as ideal: 61cm x 38cm x 23cm - (24" x 15" x 9"), weighing about 34lb/15kg. This may seem quite small, especially for longer holidays, so here are some packing tips:

  • If you are travelling with a companion, take a smaller suitcase each rather than a larger one between you. It is easier to find space on a luggage rack for two small cases than one large one.
  • Suitcases with wheels are very, very useful.
  • Remember that many of our hotels offer laundry service - perhaps you can take fewer clothes and have them cleaned.
  • Most hotels have irons available, so don't worry about clothes being folded a few times.
  • With some exceptions (eg. river cruises where more formal attire is expected), you may wear what you are comfortable with at all times.
  • If you intend to purchase souvenirs, ensure to leave space in your suitcase for them.

 

 

 

 

Do you accept children on your holidays?

Of course - though we feel it only fair to make it known that our clientele is generally drawn from a more mature age group and children may not necessarily enjoy the long train journeys and the types of activity that we organise. If you are unsure, please discuss your requirements with a member of our staff.

Is there an upper age limit?

No. What is important is not your age but your ability to manage the tour. If you have read Essential Information and you think you would be able to manage the tour, we will be glad to have you on board. Can you beat our current champion of 97 years old?

5. MAKING YOUR BOOKING

When do I need to book?

Each tour has a set number of departures with a limited group size. Many tours fill quickly so it is always advisable to book early to get your preferred choice of dates. We do not offer late booking discounts so there is no benefit in delaying booking your holiday - in fact many of our tours come with an early booking discount. A deposit is needed to fully reserve any of our holidays.

Once you have booked and paid us the appropriate deposit for your holiday, we guarantee that you will not be surcharged. This means that even if a cost increase is imposed upon us by a supplier - for example due to an increase in fuel costs - and we need to increase the holiday price for all new bookings, we guarantee that a price rise will not affect you, if you have already booked your holiday. Conversely, if a price drops after you've booked, we'll pass on the difference to you. It really does pay to book early.

I've seen a holiday I like: how do I find out what space is available?

This website is constantly updated with booking availability and additional departure dates - click on 'Check Availability' on your chosen holiday for a list of departure dates and an indication as to whether there are spaces still available. Alternatively, you can contact one of our Tour Advisors on 01904 521936 to check the availability of your chosen holiday.

How do I make a booking?

There are four ways to book a holiday:

  1. Directly from this website by clicking on the 'Check Availability' button on your chosen holiday page.
  2. By telephoning our Tour Advisors on the number shown with your chosen holiday on the website or on the relevant page in our brochure. Our Tour Advisors will be happy to complete your booking details and take a deposit by card payment over the telephone.
  3. By telephoning our Tour Advisors to make a provisional booking. We will hold the place(s) on your chosen holiday for up to 7 days.
  4. We also sell our holidays through selected travel agents.

Can I book with my local Travel Agent?

Great Rail Journeys have a number of appointed travel agents throughout the UK who will be happy to assist you with your booking. These include AITO specialist agents and most good independent agents. We will be able to offer guidance; just ask a member of our staff. We also tour a number of travel shows around the country, where you will be able to meet with a member of our team in person. For more information on times and locations, see our customer events page.

What happens next?

Once you have made your booking and a deposit has been paid, we will forward a Confirmation of Booking to you. Your confirmation will show a breakdown of the accommodation and services booked on the holiday, the remaining balance and the date when it has to be paid.

6. MONEY MATTERS

How do I pay my deposit?

If you book online or by telephone, payment is required by debit or credit card. If booking through a Travel Agent, payment is made directly to your Agent. Please note a surcharge of 2% will be levied for any credit card transactions.

How do I pay my balance?

The final payment for your holiday is due 60 days prior to departure (70 days if you are on a cruising holiday). If you have not already made your final payment, here is how you can pay:

  • Call our Customer Services team on 01904 527105 to pay over the phone using a credit or debit card (please note there is a 2% handling fee for all credit card transactions)
  • Post a cheque to the address shown on the letter received with your preparations booklet, together with the payment counterfoil found at the back of your confirmation of booking
  • Pay by bank transfer, by visiting your branch or going online (instructions can be found on the payment counterfoil found at the back of your confirmation of booking)

How do I redeem vouchers?

If you have a holiday voucher for Great Rail Journeys for money off your holiday, you will need to phone our customer services team on 01904 527105 and quote the code given on the voucher. You will need to send in the voucher by post when paying your final balance.

Which credit/debit cards do you accept?

Debit - Visa Debit, Maestro (Switch) and MasterCard Debit.

Credit - Visa and MasterCard.

Is there a charge for using a credit card?

We do not charge for payment with a debit card. However, if you choose to make payment by credit card then a surcharge of 2% is added to your balance. For more information, please read our Booking Conditions, section 3 "Payment"

May I pay by installments?

You are more than welcome to make regular payments towards your holiday cost, providing that the full balance has been received by the balance due date.

What is included?

Our holidays generally include return rail travel with appropriate transfers, hotel accommodation and a number of meals. Each Itinerary specifies exactly what is included, so there are no 'hidden' extras. 

7. YOUR HOLIDAY DOCUMENTS

What information will I get before I leave?

About 10-12 weeks before your holiday you will receive an 'Update Letter', containing:

  • Departure and return times.
  • Information about your holiday including luggage advice and tips on what to pack.
  • Eurostar terminal guide (if applicable)
  • Details of the UK Rail Tickets we can offer to take you from your local station to the holiday departure point.
  • Details of hotels bookable through us, should you wish to stay the night before or after your holiday in Central London or at your departure location.
  • Details of our recommended luggage delivery scheme 'The Baggage Man'.
  • A reminder about your balance due date.

About 2 weeks before departure, you will receive an itinerary and your final travel documents. Check these immediately and contact us if anything is not clear.

8. BEFORE YOU GO

What currency will I need?

This obviously depends on where you are going. As you may already know, many European countries now use the Euro but this does not apply to all.

Please find a table below highlighting the countries that we visit and the currency they use.

Country

Currency

Country

Currency

Austria

Euro

Monaco

Euro

Australia

Australian Dollar

Mongolia

Tögrög

Belarus

Belarusian Rouble

Morocco*

Moroccan Dirham

Belgium

Euro

Namibia

Namibian dollar

Bhutan

Bhutanese ngultrum

Nepal

Nepalese rupee

Botswana

Pula

Netherlands

Euro

Burma

Burmese kyat

New Zealand

New Zealand Dollar

Cambodia

Cambodian Riel

Norway

Norwegian Krone

Canada

Canadian Dollar

Peru

Nuevo Sol

China

Chinese Renminbi

Poland

Zloty

Croatia

Kuna and Croatian Dinar

Romania

Romanian Leu

Czech Republic

Czech Koruna

Russia

Russian Rouble

Denmark

Danish Krone

Singapore

Singapore Dollar

Ecuador

US Dollar

Slovakia

Euro

Estonia

Euro

Slovenia

Euro

Finland

Euro

South Africa

South African Rand

France

Euro

Spain

Euro

Germany

Euro

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan rupee

Greece

Euro

Sweden

Swedish Krona

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Dollar

Switzerland

Swiss Franc

Hungary

Forint

Tanzania

Tanzanian shilling

Ireland

Euro

Thailand

Thai Baht

Italy

Euro

Turkey

Turkish Lira

India*

Indian Rupee

Ukraine

Ukrainian Hryvnia

Japan

Japanese Yen

USA

US Dollar

Latvia

Euro

Vietnam

Vietnamese Dong

Luxembourg

Euro

Zambia

Zambian kwacha

Malaysia

Malaysian ringgit

 

 

 

Please note that the countries with an asterisk (*) have closed currencies and local currency cannot be obtained in the UK.  In these circumstances, we would recommend our customers to take sterling which can be exchanged locally.

Although some countries have their own currencies, it can sometimes be better to take a different currency.  For example, US Dollars are much more widely used in Russia than the Rouble and many customers take sterling or Euros to Turkey rather than Turkish Lira.  Please check with one of our Tour Advisors or a local Bureau de Change for up to date information and guidance in good time prior to your departure.

What about Visa and Passport requirements?

Most of our clients hold UK passports: any advice we give will be for UK passport holders. If you hold a passport for another country, or have special circumstances (for example, a criminal record), it is wise to contact the embassy of all countries you will be passing through. Visa requirements can change without us being notified, so we are unable to provide definitive information. Entry requirements for the United States, in particular, have recently been changing quite rapidly.

For British Citizens, a standard 10-year passport is required for all holidays and must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date. If your passport expires before this or if your passport is endorsed in any way, it may still be acceptable but you should contact your local passport office or the consulate/embassy of the country/countries you plan to visit or transit through for detailed advice.

Where a visa is required, we give details of how this visa may be obtained and whether the cost of the visa is included in the cost of the holiday. Please note that entry requirements can change without us being notified, so for the latest information on visa requirements for a particular tour, please call a member of our team on 01904 734939.

9. JOINING YOUR TOUR

How do I get to St Pancras International?

First Capital Connect and East Midlands Trains services arrive directly into St Pancras International, while next door King's Cross station is served by East Coast, Grand Central, First Capital Connect and Hull trains. A short walk away, Euston station is served by London overground, Virgin Trains, Scotrail and London Midland.

By tube, St Pancras International is served by the Northern, Victoria, Piccadilly, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.

Can you arrange rail travel from my home station?

For a hassle-free start to your journey, we can arrange tickets to the start of your tour from your closest available train station. Prices for this service start at as little as £15 one-way, with reserved seats and flexible timings. This service is available for all holidays, whether starting at St Pancras, somewhere else in the UK or an airport. Upgrades to First Class are available from as little as £30. For more information see UK rail connections on our Add-ons page.

How do I get to the start of my UK tour?

We can arrange rail travel to the beginning point of your UK tour (see previous question). Alternatively, you may wish to drive, in which case it is important you contact us for information on parking. Many of our UK hotels offer parking, however we cannot always guarantee this, and it may be the case that we direct you to alternative parking instead, which will likely be payable locally.

What do we do if we are delayed getting to St Pancras/Heathrow/Gatwick?

If you are delayed on your way to St Pancras, please call our office as soon as you are able to on 01904 521900 to advise us of your situation. If you are calling this number out of office hours, our recorded message will give you an alternative 'emergency on-call' number to call. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for our customers.

What if we need to stay in London the night before our tour departs?

We can book a wide range of hotels in central London for the night before you depart on your tour from St Pancras International, and also for your return to the UK. Details of the hotels available and how to book will be sent 10 weeks before your departure. Alternatively, visit our London Hotels page, where you will find more information on the hotels available. You can contact us on 01904 521936 for more details.

10. FLIGHTS AND FLYING

What upgrades are available on flights, and what do you get for your money?

This depends on the holiday, and on the airline used. Here is a brief summary of what is available with each airline featured throughout our programme and what the upgrade entails. Prices for upgrading vary massively depending upon the availability. If you are interested in upgrading from economy class, please contact a member of staff for an up to date quotation.

Airline

Upgrade

Aeroflot

Premier Class (Business Class)

  • Welcome drinks on board
  • Comfort kits
  • 38" seat pitch
  • Working table and adjustable head pillow
  • Food and drinks are included

Air Canada

Executive First

  • Fully flat bed
  • Premium wines and food
  • Aisle access for all seats
  • Amenities kit
  • On-board bar

Air New Zealand

Premium Economy 

  • 38" leg room with additional recline of 50% more than Economy
  • Access to the on-board bar
  • Dine from a menu
  • Amenities pack, including skin care products, toothbrush and toothpaste

Business Premier

  • Fully flat bed including duvet and sleep sheet with pillow
  • Aisle access for all seats
  • Restaurant-style dining
  • Access to the on-board bar which also provides snacks
  • Amenities kit including socks, earplugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, eyeshades, lip balm and eye gel

British Airways   

World Traveller Plus

  • Online check-in
  • Separate cabin
  • Wider seat with 38" seat pitch (Economy 32")
  • Additional recline and extra leg room
  • Three-course menu offering two Club World meal options served on china crockery with metal cutlery and linen napkins

Club Europe

  • Priority check in and dedicated baggage drop-off
  • Lounge access with complimentary food
  • A separate, more spacious cabin
  • Guaranteed aisle or window seat
  • Enhanced menu with a large selection of wines
  • 34" seat pitch with a wider seat
  • More leg room

United Airlines

United BusinessFirst

  • Fully flat bed (on long haul flights only)
  • Gourmet menu
  • United Club Lounge access
  • Amenities kit

Delta

Economy Comfort
(can only be requested approx 30 days prior to departure)

  • Extra 4" leg room
  • Additional 50% recline than Economy
  • Early boarding

Business Elite

  • Additional recline (but not yet 180 degrees)
  • Fully flat bed with aisle access - coming soon!
  • World-class dining - 5-course menu with wine pairing
  • Club Lounge access

Jet Airways

Premiere

  • Fully flat bed
  • Aisle access for all seats
  • Gourmet 5-course meals
  • Personal amenities kit with designer products
  • Lounge access and priority check in

First Class

  • 8 private suites
  • Fully flat beds
  • Dual sliding doors with a private wardrobe
  • Meeting and dining space for 2 people
  • Gourmet 5-course meals
  • Personal amenities kit with designer products
  • Lounge access and priority check in

KLM

Economy Comfort
(This can only be booked with the online check in and passengers will then pay an additional fee on the website with their own card details)

  • Extra leg room in seats at the front of the plane
  • Double the recline than in Economy

Business Class

  • 3-course menu
  • Dedicated check in desk
  • Access to the KLM lounges
  • 190cm-long seats with 175 degrees recline
  • Comfort kit

Qantas

Premium Economy

  • Wider seat with more recline
  • 38" leg room (Economy 31"-32")
  • Leg rest and adjustable head rest
  • Enhanced food and wine menu

Business Class

  • 48"-50" leg room
  • Fully flat bed
  • Access to the International Business Lounge
  • Fully flat bed
  • On-board bar with award-winning wines
  • Fine dining
  • Amenities bag including a small towel, skincare products, toothbrush, toothpaste etc.
  • Priority boarding and departure
  • Priority baggage reclaims

Scandinavian Airlines

Business Class

  • Lounge access
  • Fast track through security
  • 3-course meal and drinks included

South African Airways

Business Class

  • Fully flat beds
  • Separate check in desks
  • Lounge access
  • Adjustable lumbar support
  • 2-2-2 seat configuration
  • Gourmet a la carte restaurant-style dining
  • Wine to match your meal or champagne
  • Special amenities kit
  • Large pillows and snug duvets

Virgin

Premium Economy

  • Dedicated check-in desk and priority boarding
  • 21" wide soft leather seat with 38" seat pitch (Economy 31")
  • Pre-flight and complementary drinks served throughout
  • A separate cabin
  • Enhanced menu, food served on china plates and steel cutlery
  • After-dinner liqueur
  • Complimentary newspaper
  • Personal seatback TVs with power on demand
  • In-seat laptop power

Upper Class

  • Chauffer-driven car ride
  • Virgin Clubhouse access (free spa/hair treatments, library, cocktail bar and brasserie)
  • An ottoman which doubles as a seat
  • A choice of meals and fine wine
  • A separate bar
  • A soft leather seat which turns into one of the longest (6ft 6 inches) fully flat beds in business class at the touch of a button
  • Direct aisle-access and forward facing seats
  • 10.4" personal touch screen monitor showing award-winning entertainment

Can I fly on a flight other than that included in the price of the holiday?

Prices quoted in our brochure are based on special fares offered to us by the airlines for group travel. These represent a reduction on the normal IATA fares which generally include greater flexibility. Should you wish to book our holiday using a flight other than that shown in the brochure, a flight variation charge from £40 per person will apply in addition to the difference in cost between our special fare and the normal IATA fare for the flight(s) required. Tickets at our special fare are valid only on the airline and dates shown and do not automatically entitle passengers to switch to another carrier in the case of a flight cancellation, delay or technical problem with the aircraft or the reservation.

Can we extend our holiday and fly back later/fly out earlier?

Extensions are available on many of our Worldwide holidays, and we can also offer a tailor-made service. Let us know in good time and we should be able to book your flights as requested. We can also book extra nights in the hotels we use at the start or end of a holiday. Also, make sure you have insurance to cover the extended length of your stay.

If you have a question that is not in this Frequently Asked Questions page, please contact us on the number at the top of the page.

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