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European Rail Pass

I am trying to decide the length to buy for my rail pass. I am planning to ride the train across borders to England, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, and possibly Czechia. Being as this means I have 6 major trips, I could buy the 7 day pass which I know would save me money based on the articles I have read on this website. However, I know I will probably end up doing some small travel within each of these countries to get from destination to destination, like taking the subway in New York to and from museums and restaurants and such. The rail pass covers all of these small trips as well, correct? That was my assumption, but I wanted to check in first before making the decision. For more information I will be 23 by the time of the trip and am planning to be in Europe for 31 days.

Posted by
6441 posts

You have to read the fine print on how the passes work and talk directly with the company selling it about things you don't understand before buying it. There is no easy way around it.

Posted by
16791 posts

Passes don't generally cover travel within a city but can cover side trips by train to a nearby town, if you plan such excursions. I hope that you'll see more than one city in each country, and include some small towns in the mix, since they can be very different experiences. Three more travel days on that Global pass adds about $55 for a youth. If you're not traveling very soon, then you could wait and see if any winter specials come up, as they did in the past few years.

Posted by
2 posts

Hi Laura, thank you, your response was very helpful. Yes we were planning to stay one week per country and plan trips to other towns nearby within the country. So the pass would cover those trips from city to city or across borders, just not small trips within each city is what I am gathering. Ok thank you, this was very helpful

Posted by
17099 posts

When is your trip?

If "France" means Paris and "Germany" means the Rhine and/or the Black Forest, you won't necessarily be covering all that many miles, and a rail pass may be far more expensive than point-to-point tickets purchased in advance. You're planning to cover a lot of countries, so I imagine you intend to have a mostly-set itinerary.

The rail fares cited in Rick's books and on this website are for walk-up tickets purchased on the day of travel. Most travelers, especially those spending only a few days in each country, do not make last-minute decisions about when they will travel from Paris to Amsterdam, etc.

If you nail down the timing of your long train trips well ahead of time, you will in most cases be able to buy tickets for far, far less than those prices. Advance/promo fares (which are usually non-refundable and non-changeable) can be 1/2 or 1/3 of the fares you've probably been looking at. In the UK, the difference can be even greater.

To get an idea of the differences, go to trainline.com and check fares for your long trips for tomorrow and for your actual travel dates. [Edited to correct unfortnate error in URL.]

Germany in particular has excellent deals on regional day-tickets. If two people are traveling together, the savings are even greater.

Edited to add: Another thread reminded me I had failed to mention the issue of seat reservations, which are often required on the fast trains running between big cities. Those reservations are included in the cost of train tickets you see on trainline.com or on the individual train companies' websites (which will also allow you to avoid the service fee charged by trainline.com). The seat-reservation fees, even if mandatory, are not covered by a rail pass. They can be very high--in some cases almost as high as the price of a point-to-point ticket bought very early, while Advance/promo tickets are still available.

If a seat-reservation is mandatory, you take a big financial risk by hopping on the train without one. The fine will be substantial. If you change your mind about when you want to travel on such a train, you'll need to pay for a new seat reservation. Seat reservations can sell out.

Posted by
4142 posts

Let's do some math.

A 7 day youth global rail pass is $293. That's about $42 per day. You also need to add in the cost for any mandatory seat reservations, which could easily jack up the daily rate to over $50. I am very confident that you can purchase tickets for most of your journeys for less than that amount. You probably could even fly between some places for less than that amount.

Go and do your homework on this, please.

Posted by
3283 posts

I have tremendous admiration for RS. I believe many do. He has made travel accessible and frankly quite easy. He provides this website with videos and information that can be accessed for free. He provides, at no charge, information for teachers and is involved in many philanthropic programs. He is quite wealthy, but he works hard so good for him. BUT, why oh why does he keep promoting the Eurail pass? People take his info as "gospel", and it is, more often than not, very useful advice, but not as it pertains to the Eurail pass. It seems borderline dishonest for his organization to promote the passes, especially to new travelers that hang on his every word. I've priced them out a few times. For my first trip, I did the math many times because, "I should, of course, get a Eurail pass, its a good deal, RS says so"! Of course that is a generalization, but I have never found the pass to be a good idea for me. Now the country specific, Swiss Travel Pass, worked out well for one of my trips.

Posted by
26 posts

I have used man in seat 61 website for train travel. Very helpful with how to plan your trip, how to buy your ticket, instructions on the terminal at both ends. You can plug in your trip destinations and he lays it out. seat61.com