A Beginner’s Guide to Eurail Passes: Scam or Money Saver?

Do Eurail passes actually save money, or are they a huge waste of time?

This can be a eternal question every traveler and backpacker to Europe faces. Whether you ‘re going for 14 days or 8 weeks, everyone wonders if indeed they helps you to save money by investing in a rail pass or if it’s cheaper to get tickets because they go.

Eurail passes and costs have changed a whole lot through the years.

It used to be you could buy a rail pass, visit a train, and go wherever you wanted. And, in the event that you needed a reservation for the seat, it didn’t matter whether you’d a pass or not – if there is a seat on the train, you have it. The train pass actually was ultimate freedom.

Now, things will vary. Pass costs have risen, there are restrictions on when you’re able to use them, there tend to be only a set number of seats designed for pass holders on any given train, and several countries have instituted high-priced reservation fees (I’m looking at you, France!).

Additionally, as railways experienced to cope with the rise of budget airlines, they have changed their pricing model to more closely imitate airlines. Now they now have a tendency to offer cheap early-bird prices and expensive last-minute fares so based on when you book you can find an improved deal by booking an individual ticket than utilizing a Eurail pass.

Let’s breakdown how Eurail passes work, their costs, and if they’re worth the amount of money or not. If you would like to jump ahead, simply click on the links below:

An In-Depth Guide to Eurail Passes 2019 Edition

Exactly what is a Eurail Pass?

Eurail passes are probably the most popular travel products on the planet. The passes provide you with a set number of stops in a set time frame. You can obtain continent-wide passes, country-specific passes, or regional passes. Just as there are trains that go everywhere in Europe, you will find a pass for everybody. Passes can be found in two varieties: high grade and second-class tickets.

Eurail Pass is a train ticket which allows you to visit in and through up to 28 Europe on trains plus some ferries. The product was initially launched in 1959 and is something of a consortium of 35 European railway and shipping companies. Each of them banded together to create the corporation that then sells this pass.

It’s designed to be considered a hassle-free way to visit Europe by train and mean to encourage visitors to visit a wide selection of countries.

How Does the Eurail Pass Work?

Eurail passes are simple to use as they become one global ticket. First, you get your pass before you visit Europe. It can’t be bought when you are on the continent (unless you’re European). It’s a paper ticket that must definitely be mailed for you.

The pass becomes valid the very first time you utilize it. You don’t have to buy a ticket in advance, you can simply arrive on the train, present the conductor together with your pass, and continue on together with your journey. Some countries need you to book a seat in advance, and reservations tend to be required of all high-speed trains and overnight trains.

When you obtain your rail pass, you’ll get yourself a small book that tells you the precise reservation rules for every country the pass covers.

The Thalys train includes a limited number of pass holder seats, and since I didn’t pre-book a ticket, rather than traveling direct, I had to create two stops. It made the journey cheaper but also considerably longer than it would have to be.

On the Eurail iPhone app, you can filter for “Trains without compulsory reservation.” This assists you avoid seat reservation fees.

If your train requires you to book a reservation, that you can do therefore the day of or day before you would like to can get on that train. You don’t need a whole lot of advanced booking!

Generally, Germany and Central Europe enable you to just visit nearly every train. In France, Italy, and Spain, you’ll need a seat reservation – you can book it at the place. Never do it online or the pass providers directly, as it’s more costly than going right to the station. Seat reservations are required on night trains.

It’s vital that you remember that Eurail passes only focus on intercity train lines rather than local trains such as for example subways or trams!

What Countries are Contained in a Eurail Pass?

By 2019, nowadays there are 31 countries contained in the pass (Macedonia, Lithuania, and THE UK were added in 2019). The next countries are contained in Eurail passes:

Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, THE UK (England, Wales, and Scotland), Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, holland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey (along with Liechtenstein and Monaco).

JUST HOW MUCH are Eurail Passes?

Rail Europe will offer better sales but has slightly higher-priced tickets. Listed below are the Global Pass charges for continuous travel in 2018:

PASS

CLASS

EURAIL

RAIL EUROPE

Note: If you’re traveling (and booking) as several 2-5 adults, you can save 15% on your own tickets (via either the Rail Europe or Eurail website). Also, kids under 11 will ride free of charge when traveling with a grown-up.

Also, by 2019, travelers over 60 meet the criteria for a 10% discount on the Global Pass, so long as they are 60 years old by the first day of their trip. The discount is designed for both 1st- and 2nd-class travel.

As the unlimited Global Pass in the above list is nice, the Global Flexi Pass may be the popular plan since it offers 15 trips within a two-month period (which is normally what a lot of people need) and is cheaper. A second-class 15-day ticket costs $870 USD (a value of $58 USD per trip) as the first-class ticket costs $1,085 USD (a value of $72 USD per trip).

Unlimited (which Eurail calls “continuous”) passes can be purchased for up to 90 days, permitting you unlimited travel for the reason that time. While these aren’t the most economical (a 3-month first-class ticket will definitely cost around $2,000 USD) they do enable the most freedom because you will get on a train any day you want. For a full set of each of the Global Pass options you can travel to the Eurail website.

The Math: JUST HOW MUCH I Spent

It’s about the amount of money with the passes. If you’re going to spend less, you want the pass.

For example, here’s a break down of what the expenses for my latest trip appeared as if:

Train

Ticket cost with pass

1st Class (w/o pass)

2nd Class (w/o pass)

Lisbon-Madrid (overnight single sleeper)

97

151

60

Madrid-Paris (overnight single sleeeper)

192

202

180

Brussels-Amsterdam

0

62

34

Amsterdam-Berlin

0

199

469

Note: Prices are in euros and reflect last-minute departure prices which were directed at me at the place during booking.

The pass I used was a first-class, 15-day, two-month Global pass that costs $1,189 USD. (Why first-class? Because it’s the only pass you can aquire while you are over 28. If you’re under 28, you may get a 1st or 2nd class pass. I believe that is a stupid rule, incidentally.) My pass allowed me 15 non-consecutive days of travel in a two-month period (i.e., 15 train trips). Which means the value of every journey computes to be $79 USD.

Since I was only in Europe for 14 days, I didn’t use my entire pass. The five train rides I took had a value of $395 (one-third the worthiness of the pass).

With all the current fees for seat reservations in addition to the base pass price, the full total cost of my train trips was $800 USD. Without the pass, my first-class tickets could have cost me $975 (738 euros), this means I saved $175 utilizing the Eurail pass.

Where you can Buy a Eurail Pass

There are three companies that sell these passes:

  • Eurail
  • Rail Europe
  • Interrail

They sell the same passes. So what’s the difference? Here’s the difference:

Eurail may be the name of the consortium that works with all the current national rail companies to create the Eurail train pass. Rail Europe can be an official reseller of the tickets and passes that Eurail creates. Interrail may be the same pass but also for Europeans only; Eurail/Rail Europe is for non-Europeans. While Eurail also sells the same pass as Rail Europe, Rail Europe often sells these passes at a low price.

So, in the event that you are…

European = Buy Interrail Non-European = Buy Eurail. The passes are cheaper, even though you factor in the price of shipping.

(Previously, I used to recommend Rail Europe because they were constantly cheaper however, not anymore. However, don’t blindly go with Eurail directly. Rail Europe sells Eastern European passes that Eurail will not along with Swiss and German pass not sold elsewhere. They often times have plenty of sales too. Check them out first but, if indeed they aren’t cheaper, go with Eurail!)

IN THE EVENT YOU Buy a Eurail Pass?

So can be Eurail passes worth purchasing?

Maybe.

Many people assume train travel in Europe takes a pass, purchase one without looking at the numbers, and complain about the price.

Rail passes are about money. A Eurail pass is worth getting if it saves your money. That means you need to do a whole lot of math to determine if a pass is right or not. It’s rather a time-consuming process but is obviously worth it ultimately.

Similar to the airlines, prices are actually variable no longer fixed. Based on when you book, your ticket cost will fluctuate. In case you are ready to pre-book months beforehand (tickets usually continue sale 3 months out), you’ll easily find some unbeatable bargain deals, such as for example Paris to Amsterdam from $46, Rome to Venice from $38, or Amsterdam to Berlin from $78. Denmark offers orange tickets that are 50% off the standard price. Since rail passes cost roughly $79 per trip, you can’t beat booking individual tickets beforehand.

But who pre-books a multi-month visit to Europe? Few.

Once you have a general idea concerning where you intend to go, go to the national railway websites and workout two sets of prices: one for tomorrow (i.e., a last-minute fare) and one for just two months from now (i.e., an early-bird fare). Accumulate the costs in each category.

Next, check out Rail Europe, find your rail pass, and divide the rail pass price by the amount of days you’ll be traveling by train to determine the expense of each journey on the pass.

See which is cheaper and take that option, considering that your journey may change or you might take more high-speed rails. EASILY know I’ll maintain a whole lot of countries that don’t charge reservation fees and the costs are for booking early versus utilizing a pass are close, I’ll go with the pass, as there is value in flexibility (I change my mind a whole lot).

A Eurail pass will probably be worth buying if….

  1. You are traveling around Europe without fixed plans. If you ask me, the pass is approximately flexibility and to be able to visit and hop off trains when you wish. For anyone who is traveling long-term, you aren’t likely to pre-plan months of travel. You are likely to want the opportunity to go with the flow, which a pass gives you. I place a value on flexibility.
  2. You will end up going for a large amount of ferries. Pass holders get 50% off ferries in Greece, Italy, and Germany, 40% off ferries in Finland, plus some other bus discounts.

You ought not buy a rail pass if…

  1. You’ve planned on a brief trip and you know your dates. While those early-bird (non-pass, point-to-point) tickets are non-refundable, they remain cheap, and you almost certainly won’t be changing way too many of your dates.
  2. You are planing a trip to just one single country. It’s easier to avoid a rail pass, since it will cost a lot more than just point-to-point tickets.

THE VERY BEST Solution for Train Travel in Europe

The easiest method to see Europe via train is by using the rail pass for the expensive and long-distance trains while spending money on cheap tickets or short trips as you go. That way you’ll be certain you’re obtaining the most value of your Eurail pass.

For instance, for 11 days of train travel in Europe, it’s cheaper to get a 10-day Eurail Global pass and something point-to-point ticket for a short-distance train.

The pass does work best when only used for the long and expensive rides!

UNDERNEATH Type of Eurail Passes

For anyone who is traveling vast distances over multiple countries, utilizing a large amount of high-speed trains, and traveling (semi) last-minute, or for a long period, a Eurail pass will save money and will probably be worth purchasing.

If you would like to book a pass, go visit Rail Europe first. It’s the largest broker of European rail passes beyond Europe (and the only choice for non-Europeans). Rail Europe often has sales that discount its passes or offer you a supplementary day!

If indeed they don’t have a sale, head to Eurail and purchase the pass directly from their website and stretch your budget!

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Book Your Trip: Logistical Guidelines

Book Your Flight Look for a cheap flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite se’s because they search websites and airlines around the world and that means you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you would like to remain elsewhere, use Booking.com because they consistently return the least expensive rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I take advantage of them all enough time.

Looking to discover the best companies to save lots of money with? Have a look at my resource page to get the best companies to use when you travel! I list all of the on

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