The big question that everyone asks: is the Eurail Pass really worth it? The problem is that there is no simple answer because it all depends on the trip you are planning. The only real way to get a definite answer is to do some research on what the individual costs of train tickets will add up to vs. the price of the Eurail Pass. However this can be difficult because individual ticket costs can change depending on the day and season of travel, as well as how far in advanced you book. Keep in mind that if you are traveling Eastern Europe the train lines are limited and transport is very cheap anyway so the cost of the Eurail would not be worth it. On the other hand, countries like France, Germany and Northern Europe can have very pricey train travel so in this case a Eurail Pass could save you money. Combine the pros and cons list below with your own research and make an informed decision before purchasing your pass.
– If you are 26 or over you are only eligible for the first class pass which has a price increase of over 50%. This pass entitles you to sit in the first class carriages which most people wouldn’t bother purchasing anyway because there isn’t a huge difference between first and second-class facilities. It would be better value to just pay as you go with regular tickets.
– Eurail Passes cannot be used on Eurostar trains. These are the ones that run between Paris and London. For these tickets it’s best to book well in advanced as prices go up the closer you get to the date of travel.
– If you want to use your Eurail pass on the popular trains that run between major cities you have to reserve your seat in advanced for an extra charge that is usually around 5 Euro. This does add up quickly.
– When reserving seats, sometimes there are only a certain amount of seats that can be assigned to Eurail pass holders on each train. This means that you aren’t guaranteed to get a seat.
– The Eurail Pass comes as a hard copy ticket and is not available electronically. If you lose it, it’s like losing cash straight from your wallet. You can’t get it back.
– Countries in Southern and Eastern Europe offer cheap rail tickets when you buy them individually so the Eurail Pass is more expensive when traveling through these areas.
– The main pro of the Eurail pass is that it gives you the freedom to jump on a train at last minute. If you are buying individual tickets you usually have to get to the station to purchase them at least one day before. This is because lines at ticket booths can be long and can cause you to miss your train if you turn up without a ticket on the day of departure. However the pass allows you to simply fill in the date yourself and hop on without any trouble.
– If you are the sort of person that is not good at keeping track of your budget or monitoring your spending then a Eurail Pass could be a good option for you. It’s pre paid so you have the freedom to focus your spending money on other things while you travel and wont run out of transport money part way through the trip.
– It can save you money when travelling through Northern Europe, France and Spain where rail prices are more expensive.
If you are following The Gap Maps suggested 6 month itinerary you will be stopping in a different city around every three nights. The cities are usually relatively close together because it encourages you to see more than just the capital cities. For example, The Euro Gap Map suggests in Italy to visit Naples, Rome, Florence and Genoa which consists of three short trains. This means that you would not be getting value for money using a Eurail pass because it only allows you a certain number of travel days and you should try to use them for long distance trains that would be more expensive. It would be better value to use the pass if you were deciding to travel from Naples to Genoa in one trip alone, skipping all of the stops in between.
If you are not following the suggested routes provided on The Gap Map and you want to try to link together just the main cities of each country then you will have some long haul train trips where the Eurail Pass will probably save you money because these long routes can be expensive when purchased individually. However, if you are only travelling for a short amount of time like a two week trip and you already know your plan in advanced, you are better off booking your tickets individually in advanced online because you can find some great deals.
Which Eurail Pass to buy?
When following the 6 month Gap Map you could use the Eurail Global Pass – 10 travel days out of 2 months for the travel days below: 446 EURO
• Nice -> Spain (Barcelona 60 euro)
• Valencia-> Seville 40 euro
• Bordeux -> Paris 50 euro
• Paris-> Bussels 70 euro
• Brussels-> Amsterdam 40 euro
• Amsterdam-> Berlin 120 euro
• Berlin-> Munich 130 euro
• Munich->prague 70 euro
• Prague-> Salzburg 25
• Salzburg-(bern)-interlaken 50 euro
Estimated cost when buying tickets individually = 655 EURO
Savings = 209 EURO
*all prices are subject to change
For more info on Eurail Global Pass click Eurail