I'm really confused!

Hi everyone, I'm posting here because this is my first trip I'm planning on my very own, and I'm finding the whole transportation & getting around thing really hard. Me and my friend will be traveling around the UK & Europe in late June early July 2014. I sat down tonight & was trying to compare cheap flights, ferries, and trains to see what would be the most efficient way to help us get around. I think I'm okay as for transportation in the UK & Ireland, but when it comes to Europe, this is where I get lost. We will be going to: - Paris - Brussels - Amsterdam - Hamburg (This isn't 100%) - Berlin (Again, not 100%) - Munich - Zurich - Milan - Venice - Florence
- Rome I have looked into the EuRail Pass (I know it excludes France) but I dont really know if it would be worth it for us. I find the whole Pass to be quite confusing and since we would be going to 5 countries we would have to buy the $394CAD 5 country pass. I just dont know if that's worth it..Is this the most efficient way to do it?

Posted by Russ
2208 posts

The 5-country youth pass with FIVE travel days lists at US$390. Is that the pass you are considering? You have what looks like about 10 travel days at a minimum. (That pass lists at US$550.) So how will you make the additional trips? Figuring out travel in Europe involves a lengthy learning curve for everyone. Fortunately for you there's a lot of time before your trip to sort things out. My guess is that your current itinerary will change before then too. Right now, you've targeted only prominent cities with good name recognition, places that will be quite expensive as a rule, and some that might actually be a little dull (Zürich, for example.) You'll probably want to include some interesting smaller places in lieu of the biggies (I think most folks would opt for a place like Lauterbrunnen over Zürich, for example, or Bruges over Brussels.) If you're in doubt about Berlin and Hamburg, rest assured there are tons of other interesting, less costly German destinations that lie on a much more direct line between Amsterdam and Munich - here are just a couple: The Middle Rhine Valley (click on "English" for video - castles, old-world villages, wineries, many hostels - including two castle-hostel options - and reasonable B&B's) Bad Windsheim's Open Air Museum (near the famous Rothenburg - amazing place to visit where you really get a picture of rural life in Europe over the last 600 years.)

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
1186 posts

Fundamental question: How long will you be travelling? To hit all the cities you have listed, and do more than just scratch the surface, would take me at least six weeks. The minimum for Paris and Berlin would be at least five days. But that's me. For you, here are a couple of basic research tools: www.skyscanner.com (budget airlines) www.seat61.com (everything about train travel including strategies for buying tickets.) www.bahn.com (quick access to many train schedules although it sells tickets for Germany).
Many on this board, including me, assume that rail passes are rarely a bargain, unless the traveller wants to see Europe through a train window rather than in person. I prefer to minimize the time spent moving around, not maximize the transits to make a pass worthwhile. But the only way to satisfy yourself is to do the research yourself, starting with point-to-point tickets. You probably know that budget airlines are much cheaper if booked far in advance. Ditto for the intercity super trains. You're tied down to a schedule, but the cost of last-minute flexibility is very high and may leave you facing a sold-out train. Making reservations with a pass can also impose awkward limits too. Study up; you'll be more confident once you're on the road if it feels familiar.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5654 posts

I think you'll like Berlin, it's got a lot to do. I agree that Zurich is a snooze, you might want to put that time elsewhere. Rail passes don't pay for themselves in Italy, you can buy tickets point-to-point very cheaply. I also find that big cities have a wide range of lodging options. for example, the Meininger chain is geared to budget travelers, the one in Vienna was €44/night for a single with bath (breakfast was about €6 additional, but was a huge buffet. Plus, in large cities, you'll find more all-day food options (wurst stands, Asian noodle places, kebab shops, delis). Staying in a big city bumps up the cost in transportation, unless you walk everywhere, and entertainment/sightseeing costs simply because there is so much to do. Work up some spreadsheets with various itineraries and budgets, you can mix and match them to get your final trip. Research will be fun, and give you confidence.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3917 posts

Hi, First of all, if you decide on a Pass, dont't get a 5 country Pass, too expensive and not necessary. I would suggest a two country Pass, that is, if Berlin and Hambuirg are 100% on the itinerary, both of them. Then I suggest a France-Ger. Pass or the Ger-Swiss Pass, depending on the number of days and the cost of each in Euro, not $. France is not on the Select Pass option, it's included in the other Passes. Is your trip at least 21 days or more?