How do I buy a European train ticket from the US for someone in France?
April 19, 2010 12:29 PM   Subscribe

How can I buy a train ticket from Paris to the Netherlands for a student studying abroad while I'm in the U.S. and she's already in France?

I work for a university, and we are providing research funding for a student studying abroad in France. Part of our funding includes paying for train tickets between Paris and the Netherlands. The student is already in Paris. I am in the U.S. When I tried to buy the tickets on-line, it seemed like the only option was to have paper tickets issued and mailed to me in the U.S. I guess I could do this and then mail them to her in Paris, but it seems inefficient.

Is there some way that I can buy tickets for her from the U.S. and have them sent to her in Paris or issued electronically or made available for her to pick up in Paris?

Our office doesn't deal with international travel planning that frequently, so I'm feeling like a doofus! Please help!
posted by luazinha to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
 
Is it possible to send her the money for the tickets, and have her return a receipt?
posted by ocherdraco at 12:30 PM on April 19, 2010


Getting a cash travel advance is nearly impossible, although I may investigate that option. Also, having her pay for the tickets upfront and getting reimbursed would be great, but she's cash poor...
posted by luazinha at 12:39 PM on April 19, 2010


Wouldn't it be easier for the student to buy the tickets and then get you to reimburse them?
posted by idiomatika at 12:41 PM on April 19, 2010


Didn't use preview - sorry.

Don't know if they'll be of use for your needs, but the best URLs for you are:

www.voyages-sncf.com (French railways)
www.bahn.com (German rail portal covering all of Europe).

Bear in mind the railways are extremely busy at the moment due to the no-fly rule.
posted by idiomatika at 12:45 PM on April 19, 2010


Looks like she can withdraw the tickets with a reference that's given to you once you've bought the tickets online. But she has also to produce the card with which the tickets have been paid.
Nevertheless, if you buy the tickets in a reasonable time frame before the trip itself, then tick the (envoi gratuit par courrier) option which allows you to have the tickets sent to the student's address. Below Indiquez vos coordonnées pour terminer la commande, check Envoyer les billets à une autre personne ou adresse and then provide all necessary information.
posted by nicolin at 12:49 PM on April 19, 2010


I forgot : use www.voyages-sncf.com, as stated by idiomatika.
posted by nicolin at 12:50 PM on April 19, 2010


Have you tried booking it through the Dutch train service?
Here, it lets me choose a trip from Paris to Amsterdam but I'm not sure how the tickets are delivered.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:03 PM on April 19, 2010


As indicated by previous poster you can use www.bahn.com, Germany's booking system.

Although the traject is not related to Germany, bahn.com has a quite good booking system and can issue electronic (self-printable) tickets. This may be the fastest option for you.
posted by knz at 1:04 PM on April 19, 2010


Send her on the Thalys, which provides a 'ticketless' option - she can print out the confirmation email to use as her ticket. It's by far the fastest and most convenient train to take, anyway.

www.thalys.fr (choose EN in the top left hand corner if you don't speak French).
posted by different at 1:07 PM on April 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you can afford it, do go with the Thalys. It's four hours from Paris Nord station to Amsterdam Central, with just a couple stops in between (Brussels and, I think, Rotterdam). I can't help on the ticketing question, I'm afraid, but I've taken the Thalys and thought it was just great - fast and much comfier than the standard trains.
posted by dnash at 5:09 PM on April 19, 2010


As indicated by previous poster you can use www.bahn.com, Germany's booking system.

Although the traject is not related to Germany, bahn.com has a quite good booking system and can issue electronic (self-printable) tickets. This may be the fastest option for you.


The problem with this option is that while this is true, bahn does offer self-printable tickets, they usually require that you need to have the credit card in hand that was used purchase the ticket when you board the train....so I don't see how you could use this to buy a ticket for someone else.
posted by dyslexictraveler at 9:33 AM on April 20, 2010


Ahh... I was all set to go do the bahn.com option because it sounded perfect, and then I read dyslexictraveler's comment about her needing to show the credit card... So, I guess I'm coming back around to the option that I should buy the tickets, have them sent to me, and then I can send them to her in Paris. She's not traveling until mid-June, so there should be plenty of time for that to work, right?
posted by luazinha at 2:51 PM on April 20, 2010


Also, thank you everyone for the helpful comments!
posted by luazinha at 2:52 PM on April 20, 2010


you can specify that the tickets are to be sent to her : tick the (envoi gratuit par courrier) (free mail shipment) option which allows you to have the tickets sent to the student's address. Below Indiquez vos coordonnées pour terminer la commande (give personal information), check Envoyer les billets à une autre personne ou adresse (send the tickets to another person or address) and then provide all necessary information.
This information is valid for the www.voyages-sncf.com website
posted by nicolin at 9:21 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


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