Very few things in this world capture the imagination of potential travelers than the idea of adventuring across Europe by train. Short little journeys through absolutely breathtaking landscapes, long epic 12 hour odysseys through the Swiss Alps, having lunch in Amsterdam then on to breakfast in Berlin the next day, you get the idea.
From the North American point of view, such a crazy idea of crossing so many countries borders on the improbable and even the mysterious. While taking a train may very well be the cheapest way to get around Europe, (second maybe only to some of the discount airlines out there which have plenty of hidden costs) there are so many ways to take advantage of this incredibly popular mode of transportation, with the most widely known being Eurail.
As someone who works a full-time job as a blogger, and with less experience as a traveler than other travel bloggers out there, I had absolutely no idea initially on what to expect as far as traveling costs and expenses went when it came to getting from one place to another via train in Europe.
I did extensive research, looked at hundreds of train schedules and realized that this was going to be a lot harder then I thought. The hardest part was trying to figure out if it was going to be cheaper to buy point to point tickets or buy one of the “global passes” that I kept hearing about. So after many weeks of research I believe I have the answer for you all to the question: Is Eurail worth it for the average traveler?
A Eurail pass is at its core, a train ticket that allows absolutely amazing freedom when travelling within Europe. With the one hitch that it is only available to non-European residents, who have to use their own version called InterRail.
There are many options to chose from, and because of that, a wide range of different costs. The basic idea behind a Eurail pass is that you purchase a ticket that has a certain number of days that you can then use for as many train trips that you want to go on, say 15, 20 or even 90 days worth of unlimited travel!
It has to be validated at the place where you’re going to be boarding your first train and if used correctly it can save you a lot of money and time!
When you finally get to use your Eurail pass you can get on board your train without first having to stop at the ticket office. Its quick, fast and allows you great flexibility in your itinerary.
Once you get on the train and in your seat you can just write down that day’s date on your pass and it acts as your ticket. This in turn, allows you to have the most flexible travel schedule possible so that you can board any train without having to stress about long ticket lines and having to worry about what time you should be at the station.
There are a few exceptions to this however, overnight trains and some fast travel trains require reservations, usually at a decent price but for the most part you are able to travel with great freedom.
With a Eurail pass you can get additional discounts and it can be used for more than just train trips! Some of the best freebies are the free transport on International Ferries and the Swiss Lake Cruises!
The tickets range in price for youth travelers (26 or younger) from $1239 for the Youth Global pass (3 months unlimited travel) to $1523 for the Adult Global pass. The best prices available are for those 26 years old and under, but don’t be sad if you are over 26 years old, you still can find some good deals if you are traveling with a companion (extra discounts) with their saver pass, which allows two travelers to be on one pass. The Eurail is expensive but if you plan on doing lots of long trips, it may be a worthwhile deal.
How did we know if the Eurail pass was right for us? We added up how much it would roughly cost to do point to point tickets and it was only slightly lower than the pass. The final factor in our decision, when it finally came down to it, was that we didn’t want to feel like we needed to discuss every destination and decide whether or not it was worth the price.
We didn’t want to miss out on anything by thinking maybe we should just save the money, especially if it was something only half of us were interested in. If we already had the pass, then we’d want to make the most of it and see/do as much as we could to get our money’s worth.
But what do you think? Is a train pass like Eurail worth it or you’re better off purchasing tickets on a trip-by-trip basis?