How To Jump Trains

Train Jumping is an art requiring many months of practice. As a self proclaimed master in the art of train jumping, I will guide you through the process of sneaking on board, avoiding ticket agents and successfully arriving at your destination.

Disclaimer: Jumping trains should only be done in an emergency. If you’re backpacking Europe for an extended period of time, I highly recommend you invest in a Eurail pass instead. The Runaway Guide is not responsible for any fines or jail time you might incur should you jump the trains of Europe. a route of my travels in eatern europe


You have run out of money! >< Or you’re just cheap and want a free ride. Either way, it is possible to jump most trains in Europe with relative ease and at a low risk of being fined or arrested. Let’s say you are in Nice and want to go to Venice. This is one of the easiest routes and perfect for begginers.

Step 1 Research & Preparation 

The first thing you need to do is locate and enter the station. Inside you will see a large board, either electronic or mechanical, that will display the latest arrival and departure times. On longer trips such as this one, Nice-Venice, you generally will not find the destination displayed as Venice. It will most likely be listed as Genoa, but depending on the train, it will continue onward to Venice.

In order to find out which train goes direct to your destination without transferring, you must go to the ticket or information booth. Either one is ok. Just calmly tell the agent where you want to go and he/she will print out a schedule for you, and ask if you would like to buy a ticket. Politely decline.

Now that you know what train to take, it’s time to do some research. Walk up and down the platform paying close attention to the number of cars of the train. You should memorize the length of the train by car. There will usually be 10 to 15 cars depending on the length of the trip. If the doors are open, it is best to board the train before other passengers arrive and survey the bathroom and ticket agent booth locations.

If you see the ticket agent during your research, don’t be nervous, give him a smile and nod and carry on as if you are looking for your seat. Encountering the ticket agent this early in your mission can both be positive and negative. The upside is that the ticket agent now knows your face and much later when he is doing his checks after minor station stops, will recognize you, and believing that he had already checked you, wont bother to check again. Conversely, the fact that he has seen your face means he knows exactly who you are and if he senses any fear from you, he will be sure to try and find you soon after the train departs the main station.

All trains vary in their layout but lets say that there is one ticket agent booth at the far end of the train. In this instance, you want to position your self directly in the middle car. You will see why in a moment. When the passengers begin to board, it is best to just remain standing in the corridors or have a seat on the pot. This way, if there is assigned seating, though there usually isn’t, you won’t have to relocate your self, thus stirring suspicion.

Step 2 The Initial Ticket Check

The train departs from Gare de Nice and you are on your way. To the right is the magnificent French Riviera and to the left, the spectacular affluence of Monte Carlo. But don’t get too distracted marveling at the view. Usually about 10 to 15 minutes after the train departs, the agent will make his first round of checks. At this time you should be standing in the corridor near the bathroom.

Every minute or so, look through the glass door into the next train to see if you can spot the agent. If you look too often, other passengers may become suspicious or think you are just crazy. Neither of which will work in your favor. Just as he is about to enter the adjoining train, you need to make a decision.

There are two options, both of which equally pose risks. The first is to walk swiftly forward, past the agent, and hope that he is too preoccupied to stop you to ask for your ticket. If you are stopped, just tell him you need to use the bathroom and have left your ticket at your seat. This scenario is usually not a good one and may require some improvisation on your part. However, if you make it past him, just find yourself a seat and relax. You are pretty much home free for now.

The second option may initially seem less risky but may quickly turn into an embarrassing predicament. This time, instead of trying to sneak past the agent, hide in your nearest bathroom. The average time it takes for an agent to check one car is about 4-5 minutes. So, to be safe, you should remain in the bathroom for about 10 minutes. This will allow time for the agent to traverse your car. Remember, ticket agents are people who have usually been working the job for a longtime. While some are experts, dedicated to catching freeloaders, others are dimwits or can’t be bothered. If you are unlucky enough to get the former, he will most likely knock on the bathroom door.

Step 3 The Bathroom Ruse

In this scenario, there are a few different strategies to make him go away. The first is, and this works better for girls, to talk aggressively to him through the door. It doesn’t matter which language you speak in because your tone of voice is what will translate. If he keeps knocking, you should get louder, and if you have to, yell. One of the worst things you can do is stay quite. Anyone who has paid for a ticket would be angry for an agent’s intrusion and so you must act in accordance.

A second option is to pretend you have diarrhea. I don’t think I need to explain how to make this option convincing. If the agent doesn’t believe you, be prepared for him to use his key to unlock the door. You can either give up now or drop your pants and hit the pot. Try and squeeze one out for a more realistic effect. If he smells and sees you in this vulnerable position, yell at him and he will usually apologize.

The final method is to leave the door unlocked or partially ajar. In this way, the agent will assume no one is hiding there and will continue on. However, if you use this method, you risk passengers walking in on you.

Step 4 Stay Vigilant

Ok, so let’s say you have made it past the first check and now you can settle into a comfortable seat with a window view and relax. Whewww. Wait a minute, don’t get too comfortable yet, you’re going to have to do it all over again once you get to the next major stop. In this trip, the agent will make additional rounds after Genoa, and two more stops before Venice. This means you need to stay on your toes for a large portion of the trip. But, if you follow this guide closely and think you got the guts, you may be able to make it to Venice free of charge.


Every train and ticket agent is different and you may find your self in a situation where this guide may not apply. In this case, use your intuition and instincts and try to remain calm. The worst they can do to you is embarrass you in front of the other passengers and kick you off at the next stop. Like stealing food, jumping trains isn’t good for your karma meter. If you can afford it, I strongly urge you to buy a ticket.

If you have any specific questions, you can comment below this post.

Good Luck and Safe Travels.


Ps. If you have any train jumping stories, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to post them below.

Let Me Know What You Think!

  1. Chelsea says

    Trains in Australia are seriously easier then anything.

    Just follow another passenger thru the entry or get on the train at a remote station- remote stations in Sydney don’t have any one watching the gates.
    Once your in your home free –

    As you exit you can just wander out a disable exit point – if you have large bags its easiest.
    If your nervous grab a ticket to the next station – it will be the cheapest way on. If you see ticket inspectors pretend to be asleep and if they wake you bleary eyed present your valid ticket. Feign shock if you are half your way to Brisbane. If you have a friend at the other end, get them to buy two ticks for one stop. They come on and you both get off on the next stop.

  2. Pezzer says

    If you get on a train that has compartments and lots of young people or backpackers you might wanna try this: Find a compartment with a happy, chilled-out looking group, make friends have a laugh and introduce them to your plans as quick as possible. Ask them if you can hide under the row of seats when the conductor comes round. They might be able to put,bags in front of you or summat…If he comes round another timst fuse in with the group and have a good time…Worked for me from Budapest to lake Balaton

  3. says

    Locking yourself up in the bathroom isn’t always a very good idea. Try walk past the ticket agent, talking very upset in your phone. If s/he tries to stop you, just give him/her an angry look that says “do you REALLY want to bother me in this?” and keep walking.

  4. says

    lol I love it. I don’t think I’ve read an article like this before, very unique. Problem with me jumping trains, though, is I don’t have a good poker face. See I mean if the guy asks me for my ticket my mouth would just spit out “no!” ;(

  5. leo says

    From brno czech to budapest hungary, told them that i lost the ticket or in germany if you pay on the train vith visa card, their equipment dont read visa so they ask you to get down at the next station and buy it with cash

  6. says

    When I was in Lake Como, Italy, this summer WWOOFing, I came across a young man from Romania who would play the accordion on the street every other day to raise money to support his family. They lived 2.5 hours away by train and had no means of a steady income (his dad took the ‘other’ days), but Lake Como is frequented by some very wealthy clientele… and was the closest place to make some money off the bourgeois.

    I talked to him every opportunity I got for 15 minutes at a time, and I learned his method for getting to work every morning. He, like the author suggested, would have to sit on the bathroom for 2.5 hours every morning he worked and another 2.5 hours to get back home. That’s 5 hours a day–every other day–of the summer. Though I said to him, “maybe it’d be easier to get a ticket?”; he responded that he could literally not afford it.

    Fast forward 5 weeks to the Bologna train station at 5 a.m., and I left my ticket in the taxi, had no phone, and no money to purchase another ticket (the ticket office was closed anyways) for my train to Milan that would arrive there at 9 a.m. My flight was at 12.

    I had never read any articles like this, but the following advice (and that mentioned above) can save you a $2,000 flight home. I first got on at the end of the train and knew I would take my old Romanian friend’s bathroom advice, but I realized quickly that if I was caught (or suspected of being a free-rider), I would be thrown out. So, as the train whistle was blowing, I ran to the middle car, threw my luggage into the bathroom, and sat down.

    It was a 3.5 hour train ride on the shitter. I was in complete fear and honestly embarrassed and humiliated. A couple of times, someone knocked, and I made some outrageous farting noises and moans… and kept it up until the knocking stopped.

    • says

      Hey Emanuel, thanks for sharing, that’s a great story. Sounds like the first time I tried train hopping. Hahaha. Gotta do what you gotta do. I tend to pay for my tickets these days though partially cause I can afford it and partially cause I’m tired of the stress.

  7. Brian says

    What do you think about pretending to be sleeping while listening to music with headphones or even using an eye mask while the ticket agent is checking the tickets? Perhaps this way he will just let you sleep in peace and “come back later”

  8. says

    Heres a good tip for jumping trains.

    Though, jumping trains with enclosed cars is pretty slick with the nice comfy velvet seat, fresh smells, windows, food! Oh my god its heavenly! But, if you dont have the guts of doing what this dude says, then find cheap ol’ trains with open platforms. If they are slow enough, you can hop on the railing and pull yourself up and hide in a boxcar or stay in the shadows of an open platform hauling cars, boxes, animal cages, etc. The best way to jump these kind of trains is to do it close to night time, but I reccomend when its actually dark outside from 8:30p.m to 5:00a.m. And another one is if there are animal cages with actual domesticated or wild animals inside the platform or boxcar you got on, then either you can stay with the animals and risk them making too much commotion and the chance of you getting caught is at level 90, or shimey down to the next platform/boxcar to toward the front or back of the train (back of the train is suggested) the only bad thing is falling off and dieing, you’ll be lucky to only have lost a finger or get knocked out for some time. The good thing is you won’t disturb the animals and raise suspicion of whats going on because in most states, there is usually a highly trained animal tamer in a boxcar full of animals, a platform with animals is nothing. And always tie yourself to the train beams or railings if your gonna get some shut eye, because if you wake up with no feeling your probably dead and the trip will be for nothing. I reccomend taking coffe or energy bars to stay awake if your gonna board these type of trains since its reccomended to hop on them at low speeds at night. Thats all I gotta say for this technique.

    • says

      Hey Keith, thanks for your comment! I’ve never jumped freight trains in America, only a few times in Europe. This is good info though, cheers. Maybe I will do a guide on box car jumping in the future.

  9. Maddex says

    When I ran away I jumped a train
    To florida because my family
    Bought annual passes to Disney world if
    You don’t know those are you can use anytime for
    A whole year. So I jumped it made my to
    Florida and went to Disney world every day
    For 11 months!.my only problem was finding
    Aplace to sleep cuz there’s so many pedophiles
    and rapists down there but I found my home
    Which was a bathroom stall in a 24 hour target
    That was super close to Disney. yeah that’s
    Right I slept on a tolilet for 11 months!it was also
    Because in Disney people were asking for
    My parents I made exscuses rode rides and
    Had the time of my life and I was 13! Took
    Pictures as proof of where I was and showed
    Them to my family and friends.

  10. Tom Ca says

    I live in upstate New York and have rode Amtrak MUCH more often for free than I have when I actually had to pay. When I went to college in New Jersey and Pennsylvania I literally saved several thousand dollars over the course of six years by pulling my tricks. I do not ride the train as frequently anymore but still almost always ride for free when I do. Right now at this very moment I am on a train from Chicago to Albany, NY and should not have to pay. I will go into a little detail of what you have to do to make this work below:

    First off, you really should have a ticket for your ride. Years ago I just liked to have one incase I was asked for it, so I didn’t look like I was trying to get away with something andget tossed off the train….now at most stations it is extremely difficult to even board the train without the correct ticket. However, the good news is that if you don’t have to use the ticket, you are still riding the train for free! For example, sometime in 2005 I purchased a ticket from Philadelphia to Albany….I had the correct ticket for the train I was riding, but never turned it in….so on my next trip I just exchanged my unused ticket for the current needed ticket and then never turned that in either….and kept repeating over and over and over again… get the picture.

    The trick is to jump into the bathroom right as you board the train and stay in there while the conductor collects tickets, then you can get out and maybe sit in the cafe car or grab one of the colored slips above another passengers seat, walk down two cars or so and sit in an empty seat and put the slip above you. Then pop your earphones in and either sleep or pretend to be asleep and you should be good. On the shorter train trips of like 2-3 hours you could also just choose to stay in the bathroom the entire time to be safe….it’s up to you.

    Two weeks ago I left Albany to head down to New Orleans for a cruise with some college friends. I had cashed in (losing 10% of original fare paid) my last Amtrak ticket several months ago, so I had to pay the $80 for the fare from Albany to Washington DC, where I was meeting my one friend. I chose to stay in the bathroom for the entire two and a half hour ride from Albany to NYC and then again for the three and a half hour ride from NYC to DC. It really wasn’t bad, it was like I had my own private little room. So, I made it to DC without having to use my ticket.

    I then drove from DC with my friend to New Orleans and enjoyed a 7 overnight cruise with three college friends. My other two friends had flown in and were flying back and my buddy
    from DC was driving to a wedding in Tampa after the cruise was over, so I was on my own to get home.

    The train from New Orleans to Chicago was $105.30 (when booked at least three days in advance with AAA for 10% discount) so when arriving in New Orleans before the cruise I knew in advance I would need this and turned in my unused $80 ticket along with paying $25.30 in cash to have my ticket for after the cruise. Two days ago when getting ready to board the train in New Orleans I saw something I had never seen before, which was the Amtrak guy actually taking each customer’s ticket as they left the station to walk outside and board the train (this is not how things are done in the busy Northeast stations). I quickly saw that there was no way around turning in my ticket save for walking out a different door and jumping a fence and I draw the line at that nonsense. However, I thought, if this guy in the station has the tickets then the people on the train will not know where I am actually going, so I quickly bought a second ticket, to the train’s first stop, some shit town in Louisiana for $15, the cheapest fare on this train heading to Chicago. I turned in my $15 ticket to the guy at the station door, strolled on the train with my $105.30 ticket in my pocket and when on the train replied “Chicago” when asked where I was headed, and reclined in my seat for a 19 hour train ride with no further questions asked.

    Today when needing my $89 ticket from Chicago to Albany I used my $105.30 ticket to get my new ticket along with a $16.30 voucher for future travel. On this train I boarded and stayed in the bathroom for the first hour, and then headed to the cafe car where I am now, being on the train for just over five hours so far. We have made multiple stops with several train employees walking by and nodding to me as I read and fiddle with my phone, with no issue. I don’t anticipate any problem for the rest of the trip to Albany.

    When I get to Albany I will hold on to my $89 ticket and $16.30 voucher for a few days and then return to the station to cash them in (don’t try to cash them in right when departing the train….the reason for this should be obvious). I will get 90% of what I paid back, so will only lose $10.53. So in total for this three prong train journey that should have cost $274.30 ($80 + $105.30 +$89) I will have only paid $25.53 ($15 + $10.53) for a total savings of $248.77.

    Yes, my strategy does require money upfront, but if you can mange that, then it is a good way to save money. I know some may wonder why I am doing this if I could afford a cruise…..well my current job is not that well paying and after spending $700 on a cruise along with $500 I’n incidentals on this trip, I thought saving almost $250 sounded good. Spending $1200 is much better than $1450 in my opinion when I am on a tight budget.

    The good part of my strategy is that it is impossible to get in trouble. Every train I ride these days I have the correct ticket for (years ago sometimes I would ride without any ticket). So if confronted by an Amtrak employee I simply give them my ticket, and take the hit of having to pay for the trip. Having to pay about one in ten times is not bad in my opinion. The train is much nicer, cleaner, more spacious and relaxing than the bus….and with my strategy it is much, much cheaper as well.

    I have been doing this since I was 19 and am 29 now. I suppose I will eventually stop but for the time being I don’t mind saving money while taking no risk. I have probably saved close to $5000 over the past ten years on Amtrak. That’s good money.

  11. Nikkki says

    We was hopin trains from Florida to Cali, and we was at a train from Malibu, we made it btw, to East Los, and when we got on the train it would be around an hour and thirty minutes. What we didn’t know was we weren’t as good as we thought we was. There had been reports of us train hoping, stories bout a girl with black and purple hair, getting off with two guys, one white and one tan ish, in-between rest stops and some passengers were snitchin on us, saw us going to the bathroom. So they got a train Marshall, 5, cause apparently they read our files, and doubled they ticket agents. One got caught but, technically he never existed, fake name, and me and the other met up with him later, but we got chased through the train. Man it was as awesome as it sounded, we went through every hallway and possible exit. While he was in train destracting them, I took the roof, holy shit i almost fell off the damn thing, but I good. Eventually we got to our destination, and we ran like slaves outta the devils purgatory! Oh damn now we got goddamned worrents on us heads, but we cool new names new hair, man you helped thanks

  12. shaav says

    i worked as a conductor in austrian international night trains. and have one advice: sometimes the best thing is to be honest. explain your situation to the train staff before departure, maybe you’re lucky and get the ride for free and without any stress during the trip. even conductors are human ;) i was annoyed by people telling me lie after lie, just trying to bluff it out. but i felt sympathy for honesty, even if the reason for having no money for a ticket was because one made a night of it and spent all his/her money on alcohol or whatev.. conductors get lots of petty excuses, many people are lying to them, it is tiring… so if you aren’t in a hurry and if you don’t have to leave under all circumstances that particular night/day, just try it. if it doesn’t work, you can still catch the next train. :)

    (btw, keep looking for trains that split up in the middle of the way. for example: a train goes from rome to bologna, then splits up in two halfs, one half goes to milan, one half goes to venezia. you want to go to venezia. in bologna you join the cars that go to venezia, wait until departure, then contact the train staff that you can’t find the car with your seat any more (which you say is in the cars to milan). act like you didn’t notice that the train split up, and be stressed out because ‘your luggage and your ticket are in the cars to milan’. everybody will feel sorry for you, nobody will ask questions. those things happen quite often in trains that split up..

  13. Alexis Abel says

    I live in the USA and you guys make jumping the train sound as easy as walking down the street! It’s much harder here. There is someone waiting at every doorway to check your ticket. I’ve managed with practice; I’ve been living as a run-away with my best friend wince we were 14. We’re 17 now and still living! Anyway, we’ve been separated a few times, which is horrible. She’ll end up 5 cities away from me with no way of contact. We’ve always gotten back, though.

    Old ladies do help. They’re quite a sucker for sob stories too. A few times we get caught and say loudly “We’re so sorry, blah blah blah, but we’re trying to visit our sick daddy who has cancer blahblahblah can’t afford to see him and he only has a month to live in the hospital blahblah” Most of the time they’ll offer to buy us a ticket. However, if you use this, you have to have a good flawless story set up. Yes, we’re sisters. Yes, he has lung cancer, yes, we’re from Lancaster, no, mother died 2 years ago. We live with our grandparents.

    If you do the bathroom trick, they WILL find a way to check you. You could, if they’re determined to prove you a trouble-maker, do one of these:
    1) The buddy system: Have your friend vouch for you. Say that she’s very ill and she has your tickets. If they ask for you to go in and get them, say that she’s so sick she won’t answer OR will be cleaning her vomitted on, white shirt with no bra underneath. It actually works.
    2) Say through the door, possibly in another language, that you need medical attention or your parent, sister, friend, whatever on another car. As soon as you know they are gone, Make a run for it.

    Other things are to say: I need to go to the hospital now but have no phone to call for help, I must have lost my ticket, wrong train, or even accuse another person of taking yours. It’s not glamorous, or polite, but if you need it to survive, do it.

    • says

      Hey Alexis,
      sounds like you have been through it. You have some really clever ideas! Im totally impressed. I hear ya, though I have never tried to jump US trains, I have taken Amtrak a bunch of times and it seems a bit harder since the agents tend to check tickets at the door. This article is mainly for European trains. If you can manage passports, you two ought make the jump to Europe. In any case, thanks for sharing!

      Have you guys ever jumped freight trains in the US?

      • Krepta says

        i say the best trains to jump here (i live in California) are the cargo trains, the ones the pass by myhouse are usually alwasy empty (and opend) so if your up for a walk to there stops than its easy to get in and wait for it to stop again (i recommend bringging food for this though)

  14. Drake Williams says

    You can ride Paris to Brussels fairly easy. Particularly if your french is good even on the high speed. You simply need to make nice to the little old ladies that are always on the route. Then use the bathroom trick. If the conductor sees you after his checks he will think your legit because the old ladies are at ease. Most of the ladies are very nice and always wish to talk.

  15. says

    I used to ride the trains in Belgium for free quite often. You can buy a go card for 50 euro which allows you ten rides – you just fill in the date, departure, and destination. But more than half of the time, no one comes to check your ticket. What I did was invest the 5 euros in an erasable pen. If no one came and checked, I just erased the information! Saved loads of money that way!

    Jade Johnston | http://www/

  16. says

    I wound up jumping 2 trains yesterday between Brussels and Leuven Belgium. I had left Leuven in the morning with my Eurail Pass, but the Conductor never reached my car during the 20-30 min ride. That being said I never filled out the travel date for me ticket. When I returned I took the local train (what a mistake/blessing) and the short trip went from being 20 minutes to about 40-50 minutes. I fell asleep only to be woken up by the conductor, I quickly grabbed my Eurail pass and handed it to him with no travel day information filled out. Then he asked me how Francis and Grace are doing. I was very confused because Francis and Grace are my Grandparents. It turns out he is the grandson of my Grandfathers cousin, and they had visited his family a few years back. I you may guess I was very confused and started asking how he knew who I was. It turns out that my grandparents have been bragging about my visit to Europe to everyone they know in Belgium, and I have a similar facial profile to my grandfather. Needless to say he let me ride the rest of the way free.

  17. says

    I did the toilet-thing in Norway once, but I stayed in the toilet for the whole ride. My bum felt horrible after the trip, but that only lasted 5 minutes after I walked off. Not a incredible story, but I saved some bucks and got quite far in my book ;)

  18. says

    LOL! This is such a funny post and had to admit that I had done it a couple of times – the bathroom trick is the best guarantee for jumping trains. Also, the pretend you’re asleep trick works sometimes.

    I’ve got caught once though – but I played the foreigner card (I was Filipino living in Belgium then) and I told the “me-no-speak-English” trick. He told me that I have to give him money but I showed him my wallet filled with Philippine money so I had an excuse that I didn’t have enough Euros with me. Good thing the agent was nice and paid for my ticket back to Brussels. But I really felt bad after that as I knew he was only doing his job. So after that, I became a good citizen, and paid for my ticket – but it was fun while it lasted! :)

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