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Topic # 223515 3-Oct-2017 16:10
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My wife and I are in the preliminary stages of planning a trip to Europe (probably 2019 at this stage, but possibly earlier). When I was a kid, my parents took us to Europe in the late 70s, and we used Eurail passes to get around everywhere.

 

I recall this gave us a pretty flexible way to travel the continent back then. Is this still a good way to travel around Europe? Or are we better off buying rail (or air) journeys separately in advance?

 

Any gotchas/tips also appreciated.


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  Reply # 1876756 3-Oct-2017 16:10
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Allow me to introduce you folks to our new travel community: TravelTalk NZ.

 

We hope to see you there!

 





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  Reply # 1876761 3-Oct-2017 16:23
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Main "gotcha" is don't lose it. 

I bought a month pass for the UK for 3 of us, and left it on the seat of the first train I used it on (July 2015). 

Yes....a complete idiot. I'd had it ready in case they asked for it...and they never did.....so I had it out....on my bag.....and it never got put away because they never asked for it.  

That was the end of that. No refunds. No transfers. It was worth about $2000. 

In the end it worked out much better just buying fares as required because then we could buy First Class and / or reserved seating....and use whatever train company we wanted to. With the pass you either buy a seat on the day - if there is one available - or you're basically stand-by. No room? Wait for the next train. Not another train? Try again tomorrow. 

I had used the BritRail Pass in the early 80s when it was only British Rail and the whole system worked MUCH better. That was before all the privatisations of the Thatcher / Major era. They wrecked it. That experience was why I bought the pass in 2015. I wouldn't do it again. 
Not sure about the rest of Europe. Rent a car? Might be cheaper and more flexible.  
 





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  Reply # 1876769 3-Oct-2017 16:31
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Low cost airlines have probably destroyed the economic benefit of using a Eurail pass as the cheapest way to get around....

 

Although the enjoyment factor (vs crowded planes and airports) may still make it worth considering,


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  Reply # 1876775 3-Oct-2017 16:46
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wellygary:

 

Low cost airlines have probably destroyed the economic benefit of using a Eurail pass as the cheapest way to get around....

 

Although the enjoyment factor (vs crowded planes and airports) may still make it worth considering,

 



Plus train stations in France and Spain now seem to be venues for extremists stabbing, shooting or running people over. The risk is small, probably smaller than a car crash,but it's a lottery I don't want to win. 





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  Reply # 1877050 4-Oct-2017 09:53
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wellygary:

Low cost airlines have probably destroyed the economic benefit of using a Eurail pass as the cheapest way to get around....


Although the enjoyment factor (vs crowded planes and airports) may still make it worth considering,



Id still go for trains personaly.

Europe is actually smaller than you think.

Trains predate planes so often in centre of towns rather than outskirts where airports are and require another trip to get into town. (especially if using budget airlines)

The French German high speed trains are impressive and it's nice seeing the scenery go past, you can get up walk around, use Wi-Fi.

Everyone seems happier on trains.



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  Reply # 1877058 4-Oct-2017 09:58
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afe66:

Id still go for trains personaly.

Europe is actually smaller than you think.

Trains predate planes so often in centre of towns rather than outskirts where airports are and require another trip to get into town. (especially if using budget airlines)

The French German high speed trains are impressive and it's nice seeing the scenery go past, you can get up walk around, use Wi-Fi.

Everyone seems happier on trains.


Yeah, trains definitely appeal, due to the reasons stated above. Just wondering whether Eurail passes still have a place, or whether pre-booked tickets are better. We like the flexibility that Eurail passes offer though.


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  Reply # 1877062 4-Oct-2017 10:08
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Have a read of the seat61 guide to Eurail passes. This should help your decision making process


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  Reply # 1877063 4-Oct-2017 10:08
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I guess it depends how often you'll be moving around. If you're going to a few major cities, probably not. If you're going all over the place, maybe.

 

Plan your itinerary, look at prices, work out what's cheaper. Price is one factor - the others seem to be flexiblity and the ability to get on a train if you have a pass as outlined above.





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  Reply # 1877102 4-Oct-2017 10:58
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I think one thing to be wary of is the idea that because you can travel for free, you ought to travel as much as possible. So you want to see Prague and Rome and Paris and Stockholm, and you end up spending most of your time whizzing around the place in trains, and less time actually *being* there.

 

I'd advise to plan your itinerary first, and then see if a Eurail pass is good value or not.

 

IIRC from far too many years ago, Eurail pass gave you half-price in the first country you used it, and free elsewhere. In which case, starting in Luxembourg would be smart.

 

 


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  Reply # 1877105 4-Oct-2017 11:01
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I've never done the Europass but love rial travel over there.  I've done a couple of short to medium trips and it's so easy.

 

So easy, in fact that a night of drinking can easily spill-over into a different country.





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  Reply # 1877110 4-Oct-2017 11:07
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Can get cheap seat deals, e.g. in Italy recently from Rome to Florence for 20euros

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  Reply # 1882074 11-Oct-2017 21:05
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Seat61 is a great read when planning rail travel in Europe.
We spent 2 months there last year, travelling between 8 different counties all by train. 73 hours on trains in total and it was awesome!!!!
After a lot of research we opted for pre booking the train trips as soon as they became available (normally 2-3 months in advance) That's when they are cheapest and we got great deals almost always travelling first class. First class is worth it, better seats, lounge access, often quieter.
Turning up at the station in the middle of a city 5 minutes before departure, having all your bags with you, free to eat and drink what you bring with you, enjoying the scenery as you travel in comfort. Such a great way to travel.

Eurail can save you money, but even with our extensive train travel we paid less buying tickets in advance.
Eurail can offer more flexibility, as in your not pre booking travel days and times, but I read a lot of stories about people not getting a seat on a train for days after they want to travel because the allocated Eurail seats were already taken, even when there were plenty of available seats on the train.

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