Eurail Passes vs. point-to-point

We are considering buying Eurail passes for this trip to Europe in July. But I have noticed that if I go from point to point I may save about half the cost. Since I am new to this I don't know if I should buy the 7 day Flexipass which is at 419.OO US$ or just be adventurous and buy tickets as we go. Any ideas or suggestions will be appreciated. I have previously given the possible route we will take. Some changes can be done.

Moises

Posted by Tom
Newport Beach, CA, USA
756 posts

There is no "best" answer for your question- so you may need to do a bit more comparison & calculations. Using the www.bahn.de DB website is usually a good price source (tho no all routes show prices). Using that and Ricks rail-cost-map you can figure out the cost at full price for your group (write it down on paper day by day). Some things to keep in mind with Railpasses: 1. you get extra discounts with 2-or-more traveling together. 2. many "free/discounted" rates may apply to museum or boats or special attractions. 3. The convenience of being able to jump on/off any (almost) train is GREAT! no lines, no worries. That is a premium id pay extra for. Your (or you group) budget may dictate that. Its a lot of work for complex schedules - but busget travel usually takes a bit extra effort and is usualy well worth it!

One more consideration - many countries have local-discount cards - good for 50% ticket price - like the Swiss Card... if your routes are shorter - it may be cheaper than a "rail" pass. But again - take the whole trip and all the countries into consideration. You may save more in one place - but less in another. hope this helps! (sorry if long winded too!)

Posted by Tom
Newport Beach, CA, USA
756 posts

One last point - To make it simple - take the cost of the rail pass divided by the days you will travel. If that daily cost is cheaper than most of your daily train-tickets for a typical day - then its a good deal and convenient. 419/7= $59. Leave room for those "I like it here - lets stay a day or 2 extra" possibilites! Those local day trips will probably be much cheaper than $60!

Posted by carl
dallas, tx, usa
1358 posts

I always take the challenge just for the adventure. Buying tickets is no task and you save a lot of money. I always buy tickets on the day before departure. Be sure you wait on the right platform for your train. To do that you have to ask someone. When you board the train be sure to ask which car you must be in. Some trains drop off cars in transit.

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1145 posts

You really don't have to ask someone what track your train will be on. There is always information posted in the station, either on an overhead board or on the printed schedule. After all, that's how the people who ask have found out.

Posted by Kristin
Bellevue, WA, USA
16 posts

We've saved money every year buying point-to-point. We've never gotten stuck anywhere, and lots of times we've hit specials that we didn't even know about!

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

I use Eurail passes (almost) every trip to France/Italy. One year I skipped the pass and took three budget flights Paris-Venice, Venice-Palermo, and Pisa-Paris.
I prefer the passes for several reasons: FLEXIBILITY (I can schedule my travel after I arrive in Europe and re-schedule as I go along), EXPENSE (I may not save money, but it feels more economical for most trips when the cost per day is averaged out), travel during my PREFERRED HOURS (cheap flights all got me out of my hotel in the dark early hours in order to get to the airport 2 hours before flights), and VERY IMPORTANTLY I like to meet and talk with people on trains.
Advantage vs. point-to-point: I like to pre-pay my trip as much as possible. I will pay point-to-point for short trips. With a pass I sometimes just hop on a train. Being impromptu sometimes is fun.
In the April 2007 "Budget Travel" magazine there are details concerning train travel deals. Plan ahead; rail websites offer specials.