Is the Eurail 4 Country Flexipass the best option

I've read this and multiple other sites and find that I'm becoming more confused. This is first (and possibly only) trip for 2 seniors. Here are our plans. Any hotel suggestions or comments on the following appreciated. Do we do a 4 country flexipass with 10 days travel? Is that the best option? Does something else make more sense? Train reservations - should these be made in advance, once we're in Europe or a combination of the two? I don't believe we'll be taking any night trains. Fly to Paris from US, then to Venice the next day.
Spend 3 days in Venice - hotel-Antiche Figure - is right by the train station SLN). (Nov 21-23) Nov 23 - Take train to Florence and overnight there. Nov 24-28 afternoon - train to Rome. Hotel is Al Viminale Hill Inn & Hotel Nov 28-29 Rome to Bologna, with a side trip to San Marino via train to Rimini and bus to San Marino. Nov 30 - train to Parma. Dec 1 - Parma/Milan/Monza/Tirano w connection to Bernina Express (overnight in Chur at ABC Swiss Q Hotel) Dec 2 - Chur to Frankfurt Dec 2-7 Frankfurt Hotel Hessischer Hof Dec 7 Frankfurt to Paris (Abbatial Saint Germain hotel) Dec 7-10 Paris Dec 10-12 - Iceland Dec 12 - Return to US Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions and comments!

Posted by Bob
Minneapolis
589 posts

Hi Terri. In general, train passes are not a good value. If you have a pass, you still have to buy additional reservations for many trains. You can easily do research online to compare cost of individual trips vs. pass. For example, if you buy in advance (trenitalia.com), the total price (reservation included) for the high speed trip from Venice to Florence (Venezia San Lucia to Firenze SMN) is 29 euros or less. Even if you wait and buy in Italy the day of travel, it's only 45 euros. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by Terri
Hilo
21 posts

Thanks! I priced them individually and it came to almost $2000 in 1st class compared to less than $1600 with a pass, including reservations on all. As we're on a budget, everything we save allows us more money to use to enjoy the countries. I think I may have found a better option - just got a 10% discount code on a pass, so that takes the cost for a 5 country 15 day pass to about the same as a 4 country 10 day and we won't have to be quite as careful with days and gives more options for side trips. Reservations seem to be averaging about $28 for each leg where needed - other than the Bernina Express and the Frankfurt-Paris leg. This still begs the questions as to whether I need to book the reservations here or wait until in Europe. Another question is about the Switzerland portion of the trip. I realize that due to the time of year, it will be dark before we get in to Chur. How much do we actually miss? Is there still good scenery from Chur to Zurich or would it be better to go from Chur to Innsbruck and then on to Frankfurt?

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3343 posts

Just my 2 cents. I hope you plan to fly from Paris to Venice because it's much cheaper, especially with a low cost such as Easyjet (from ORY to VCE) or Ryanair (from BVA to TSF). Second of all you don't seem to be doing a lot of train travel to justify a 4 country pass. When you compare with individual tickets I wouldn't compare with first class ticket prices. There is very little difference between first and second class to justify the price difference. The only difference is in first you have 2+1 seats abreast (where + represents the aisle) whereas in 2nd you have 2+2. Either one is way more comfy than economy on planes.

Posted by Terri
Hilo
21 posts

Yes, we're flying from Paris to Venice. Unfortunately, it requires an overnight in Paris or a very hectic trip from CDG to Orly. We decided not to take the chance of missing the flight and fly out of CDG the next morning. I guess the good thing is that we'll have part of the day in Paris, but haven't decided if we stay near the airport or in town. Since this is our first trip, we're just not comfortable enough to not be sure that we'll be where we need to be. Although we're flexible for the most part, we have to be in Frankfurt on the 2nd and out on the 7th. The only way we seem to be able to get everything else we want to do in the timeframe we have is to have things planned to within a few hours. Since it's close to winter, there's probably less chance of not getting a train than there would be in the summer, but I'm wondering if the stress of it may not make up for the slightly add'l cost. The price I gave was for both of us, so about $1600 for all reservations for 15 days travel with multiple trips on several days. Am I really that far off from what the individual tickets would cost? When I priced them, most of the super economy and economy seats weren't available.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Hi Terri,, Are you using the national railway websites to get your prices? That's where the most accurate and cheapest fares will be. If you use a third party like RailEurope the prices will be higher. Even if you use the Rick Steves rail map the prices will be higher. If you are trying to save a little money, second class is the way to do it. The second class seats on the Freccia trains in Italy, the ICE trains in Germany and the TGV trains in France are very good. You really don't get that much more in first class and pay a whole lot more. For a first and possibly last trip to Italy I wonder about some of the detours from the "main line", especially Parma and San Marino. I've been to Italy a lot and still focus on the main cities. I've got San Marino on my list for one day so I can check off another country but it will be some time yet for me. I hope you have a great time...

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

IMO, 1st class isn't worth the extra money. There is plenty of leg room in 2nd class. You've waited too long to get the lowest point-to-point discount fares, but here's what's possible as of today for your travel dates. Venice-Florence: €29.00 booked on trenitalia.com. Florence-Rome: Depending upon departure time, €19.00 or €29.00 booked on trenitalia.com. Rome-Rimini: As low as €18.00 booked on trenitalia.com. Rimini-Bologna: As low as €9.00 booked on trenitalia.com. Bologna-Parma: As low as €9.00 on a high-speed train booked on trenitalia.com. The anytime fare on a regional train is €13.60. Buy regional train tickets at the station. Parma to Tirano: Parma-Milan on a regional train for €10.25. Milan-Tirano on a regional train for 12.00 CHF. Tirano-Chur on the Bernina Express: 58.00 CHF. Chur-Frankfurt: As low as €59.00 booked on the German Rail site. Frankfurt-Paris: As low as €49.00 booked on the German Rail site. Discount fare tickets are for a specific departure date and time. They are non-exchangeable and non-refundable so be sure you can commit before booking.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

I agree, second class is fine. If you're on a budget, there's no reason to spend extra for first class. The only time a pass is a better deal is, in my experience, is when you are traveling a VERY long leg. Long legs waste too much valuable travel time, so I avoid them as much as possible.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2698 posts

Terri, Based on your itinerary, I would get a three country Select pass (Germany, Switzerland, France), leave out Italy, IF you intend to get a Pass. The Select Pass only comes in 1st class. But I would reconsider getting a Pass since your time span of ca. 2.5 weeks is too short. Also, you basically have two long rides in France, Germany and Switzerland. As for the difference between 1st and 2nd class, the TGV in 1st class is much more preferable to 2nd class. The difference between 1st and 2nd class for a seat reservation for the Frankfurt-Paris leg, as of this summer, is 15 Euro. Whether you ride the TGV or ICE Frankfurt-Paris, the price of the seat reservation is the same, 30 Euro 1st class.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Tim has done great to get those figures for you. I agree with him that around 350€ per person comes nowhere near $1600 plus reservations. 228.85€ = $298.95 US today
CHF 58 = $62.53 so, using Tim's higher figures, $361.48 x2 =$722.96 for two folks.

Posted by Terri
Hilo
21 posts

Thank you all! I'll see if I can get things booked today! I'm very excited about it all!

Posted by Terri
Hilo
21 posts

One more thing. I'm trying to navigate the trenitalia site to book our tickets, but haven't been able to book multiple tickets at once. Is there something I've missed or do I need to purchase each individually? BTW, the $1600 included all reservations, but still considerably more than what these show, even though I'm not seeing as low as the prices as listed. With this much savings, I think my husband will just have to learn not to be so nervous about it all.

Posted by Terri
Hilo
21 posts

Thanks, Fred! I've managed to snag a discount on a first class seat from Frankfurt to Paris for 138E total. I think that's a great price, so I appreciate the pointer. Now, I'm finding more things to consider - does anyone have any preference for either trenitalia or italo on available routes?

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8646 posts

On the Trenitalia site you will need to book each route separately (Venice-Florence, Florence-Rome, etc.).

Posted by Terri
Hilo
21 posts

I wanted to thank everyone who's made suggestions in this and other threads. By following most of the advice, we've saved about $600. It likely could have been more, but we decided to splurge a little and use some of the add'l savings for a couple of upgrades to 1st on a couple of routes. I'm so pleased that I took the time to post and ask the questions and even more importantly, to listen to the responses! If anyone has any suggestions about the hotels, etc. that I listed, it would be great.

Posted by Terri
Hilo
21 posts

We booked the ICE. It's the one that showed up for the time we wanted to leave - early morning. I have an event in Frankfurt Dec 3-6, so the room was included. Should get to Paris in order to have at least an extra half day there before we leave on the 10th.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2698 posts

Terri, You're welcome. Good that you got the Frankfurt-Paris leg in 1st class,... on the TGV or ICE? I prefer the ICE 1st class. Either one you'll be served a meal, mini sandwich, etc.