Tourists traveling by bus and train in Italy are being cautioned about a critical yet easily overlooked step after purchasing their tickets, which can result in unexpected fines. This requirement, often labeled a “tourist trap” by travelers, has gained attention through a viral TikTok video, viewed more than 1.8 million times during the European summer season.
Travel blogger Alaya Hablo, known as “La Turista Filipina,” issued a warning: “Always validate your train and bus tickets in Italy! I’ve seen so many clueless tourists who had to pay a lot because they didn’t know about ticket validation.”
While Ms. Hablo used Rome in Italy as an example, many comments on the video highlighted that this practice is common in various European countries.
The validation process involves using yellow validation machines to stamp paper tickets, making them valid for use. However, if tickets were purchased online, this step is unnecessary.
Ms. Hablo recounted witnessing two couples on a Milan to Lake Como train journey who had to pay a “big fine” because they were unaware of the ticket validation requirement. She also noted that these validation machines are present inside buses in Rome, and she observed approximately 10 tourists being told to pay fines during a single bus ride.
Italia Rail explains on its website that for Trenitalia, Italy’s largest train operator, tickets purchased at the station only include a date and require validation before boarding. Failure to validate such tickets can result in fines of up to 200 euros, equivalent to about $334.
Notably, tickets for Trenitalia’s high-speed trains, which include reservations, do not require validation.
Travelers who watched the video expressed surprise at the potential fines, with some labeling it a “tourist trap.” Reports of similar practices in other European cities, like Paris, Munich, and Cinque Terre, where tourists have faced fines for unvalidated tickets, were shared in the comments.
Additionally, travelers shared a valuable tip: Since the validation machines can occasionally run out of ink, it’s advisable to manually write the date, time, and station on the ticket in pen, following the DD/MM/YY format.
While some Europeans found the process commonplace, Ms. Hablo explained that it can be confusing for tourists accustomed to using transport cards they can top up as needed.