3 month global pass eurail!

My husband and I are seriously considering this from end of oct 2013 until Jan 2014. Has anyone used this pass? Thoughts, comments, tips? We love the idea of complete freedom to choose and we want to see a pretty diverse area:
Ireland, Sweden, eastern/central Europe, Italy, Spain, and maybe Portugal. We are not students. I would love your sage advice. Thanks!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10841 posts

You have to do some homework to determine if the pass is a good deal. The old idea of getting a pass and jumping on any train headed in the right direction is dead. Nearly all high speed trains will require advance reservation and the payment of a supplement fee often called a seat reservation. This varies from country to country because of specific polices related to train passes. For example - in Italy - all trains except regional trains require a seat reservation. In Germany it is mixed. In France some of the high speed trains limit the number of seats available for pass holders. So it is hard to give a firm answer to your question.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9077 posts

Your wish list is pretty scattered across the continent. You would probably do better by using a budget airline.

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

Can't comment on the ticket, but one thing to keep in mind is that days are very short when you go north! I spent a few weeks working in Sweeden last winter and there really was only a few hours for sightseeing during the day.

Posted by Glenn
Grand Falls-Windsor, NL, Canada
307 posts

I've used a Global Eurail pass in the past, and do enjoy the freedom of movement it allows, with a couple of caveats. First, in order to get value from a global pass, you need to be using it frequently. When I had one, in addition to getting from "homebase A" to " homebase B", I was taking a lot of day trips, so to me, it made sense. If you're not going to use it frequently, point to point tickets may be more economical. The other comment relates to reservations. Some trains require a reservation( eg high speed intercity trains in certain countries ) that add a cost to your travel above and beyond the cost of the Pass. This needs to be considered in relation to the cost of traveling "point to point".
As referenced already, The Man in Seat Sixty One is an excellent site to give you a solid understanding of the European train system, as well as info on railpassess, etc.