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Point-to-Point or Eurail Global Pass ?

We are 2 adults and 2 children of 8 y.o., 16 days of rail use. Last day is from hotel to airport, we can consider something else for this last ride to the airport. I hear experts on here say P-P is better than Eurail. When I compare prices, the difference is not that much, obviously I am not researching all the right places. Can you guys give me suggestions ... Here is our itinerary: 1) Frankfurt Airport - Rudesheim (2 nights) 2) Rudesheim - Berlin (3 nights) 3) Berlin - Paris (3 nights) 4) Paris - Marseille (4 nights) 5) Marseille - Interlaken (2 nights)
6) Interlaken - Frankfurt (last night) We were thinking Eurail Global Pass 15 days consecutive ($2000) + TGV/ICE Reservations ($400) + local metro ($300). This is adding up to almost $3000 for our family of 4, too much right ? Help please

Posted by
25 posts

Here is my latest P-P calculation using Bahn.de and RailEurope. Calculated for 2 adults/2 children, 2nd class, including reservation fees. 1) Frankfurt Airport - Rudesheim $ 59 2) Rudesheim - Berlin $ 183 3) Berlin - Paris (flying) 4) Paris - Marseille $ 440 5) Marseille - Interlaken/Bern $ 519 6) Interlaken/Bern - Frankfurt $ 762 ---------
Total $ 1961 Can I do better ? How ?

Posted by
5255 posts

Why do you need 16 days of rail use if you only have 5 major travel legs? You can buy a regular ticket to Rüdesheim (maybe not the best Rhine town base, btw) and for the other legs, get 5-day, 3-country Passes, Saver version, in 1st Class passes for $402/adult, 1/2 price for kids. That's about $1200 total. www.ricksteves.com/rail/.htm For FRA to Rüdesheim, a "Gruppentageskarte" will cost 25.70€ total for your family; it's a group day ticket from the local transit authority (RMV) and you buy it at a ticket machine at the FRA Regionalbahnhof station. If you want to shop for individual tickets instead, leg # 2, 3 and 6 advance-sale prices can be found at the german railways itinerary page (if your trip is 92 days or less from now.) http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

Posted by
8700 posts

Yes, too much. You can get discount fares for your routes. 1. If you depart after 09:00, you can buy a Hessenticket at the airport which costs €6.20/person for up to five people. 2. Booked well in advance (up to 92 days allowed) at bahn.de, you can get a Sparpreis fare as low as €129 which will cover the two adults. The children ride free. 3. Booked at bahn.de, you can get a discount fare as low as €138 which will cover the two adults. The children ride free. 4. Booked up to three months in advance at either voyages-sncf.com (in French) or tgv-europe.com, you can get a Prem's fare as low as €130 for all four of you together. 5. Booked at either site in #4, you can get discount fare tickets totalling a little over €300. 6. Booked at bahn.de, you can get a discount fare as low as €138 for the two adults. The children ride free.

Posted by
3565 posts

It looks like six trips for $600 each, leaving aside the subways, for an average of $100 per trip. I can't image those rides will cost that much if bought early. For instance, the fast trains from Paris to Marseille cost 25 to 30 € if bought far enough in advance that's 33 to 40 US$, including seat reservation. Berlin-Paris is about double that unless you take the night train with seat only (low-cost flights are competitive on that route.) You should do your own arithmetic at www.bahn.com
You might also be able to find a multi-airport ticket so you don't have to return to Frankfurt for your flight home, wherever that is.

Posted by
25 posts

Thanks everyone for your input. I am researching all your suggestions now. I wanted Bacharat/Castle for the kids ...but no more room. Rudesheim is close enough, we plan on taking a rhein river castle tour. The reason for Eurail Global pass is the flexibility to hop on and go when/where without worry. However, the flexibility is undermined by reservations and its extra cost. We are arriving in Frankfurt May 17 11:30am, Leaving Frankfurt June 1, 2pm. We are actually flying from Berlin to Paris. We are unaware of the amount of pre-planning required. When I traveled 20+ years ago, I just hop on a train whenever/whereever with Eurail.

Posted by
4524 posts

The reason for Eurail Global pass is the flexibility to hop on and go when/where without worry. However, the flexibility is undermined by reservations and its extra cost. We are arriving in Frankfurt May 17 11:30am, Leaving Frankfurt June 1, 2pm. We are actually flying from Berlin to Paris. We are unaware of the amount of pre-planning required. When I traveled 20+ years ago, I just hop on a train whenever/whereever with Eurail. As you have discovered, the Eurail pass no longer provides the "flexibility" it once did. Besides, flexibility is only necessary if you are just bouncing around from place to place with no itinerary. If you know where are going and when, the deep discounts for pre-purchase are can't be beat. You've also discovered that a lot has changed in 20 years. If you are flying from Berlin to Paris, the longest stretch of your trip (a wise choice BTW), then a pass will have no value at all for you. In the rare cases where passes do still work, it is for people taking many very long train rides (over 4 hours).

Posted by
5255 posts

"The reason for Eurail Global pass is the flexibility to hop on and go when/where without worry. However, the flexibility is undermined by reservations and its extra cost." If it's convenience you want, then get a pass for the FOUR major train legs and for one extra outing somewhere (about $1200 for all.) Reservations aren't required for legs 1,2, or 6 in your original post; it's possible you'll need them for legs 4 and 5. Extra outings from Rüdesheim and Berlin by train can be done cheaply and easily on local daypasses. You do not need to add expensive railpass days to everyone's railpasses! From Rüdesheim along the Rhine by daypass: 25€ for 2 adults, kids are free: http://www.vrminfo.de/en/tickets-and-fares/ticket-offers/rheinland-pfalz-ticket/ From Berlin to Potsdam a popular outing you might wish to make, a Kleingruppentageskarte ("daily small group daypass") runs 15.50€ for your family. www.vbbonline.de/index.php?cat=2&sCat=388&par=480&id_language=2

Posted by
5255 posts

How can you do better than $1961?? I wasn't lying to you about the price from FRA to Rüdesheim. It's not $59, it's 25.70€ ($34.) The local transit authority prices these tickets. You probably got your price from Raileurope. It might be hard for you to find this price on the VRMinfo pages since you probably don't know German, but here's where you can look for yourself: http://www.rmv.de/auskunft/bin/jp/query.exe/en?application=TARIFFONLY Use "Frankfurt a.M. / Flughafen / andere Haltestellen" and "Rüdesheim a.Rh." for station names. Click on "Season ticket ohne umweg" at the top, and look at the price for "Gruppentageskarte 5 Personen." And $1200 for the 3-country, 5-day, first-class selectpasses I suggested is a lot less than $1961. You can use the 5th day for Frankfurt-Rüdesheim and save 25.70€ if you don't want to save the 5th day for some other side trip. You can look this price up at this very website. Now you may have to pay for reservations on your France legs, but that isn't going to cost you $700+ (even if you choose to purchase reservations for the Germany legs, which are not required) which is the difference between the selectpasses and the individual tickets. So the real question isn't whether you can do better than $1961, but whether you can find p2p tickets that total less than $1200 + a few reservations. OR am I missing something?

Posted by
8700 posts

In my previous post I gave you the lowest discount fares for all your routes. Whether or not you can get them for your specific travel dates depends upon two things: (1) Book on the national rail sites I listed and not on Rail Europe and (2) book before the allotted number of discount fare tickets are gone.

Posted by
25 posts

Russ, I will try researching with the web site you gave...
http://www.rmv.de/auskunft/bin/jp/query.exe/en?application=TARIFFONLY Tim, I did use RailEurope for part of my P-P calculation because Bahn.de did not provide prices for the France routes. I will try recalculate using the web site you suggested. You said Children go Free, is this true for all rails in Germany/France/ICE/TGV/etc. My twin boys are 8 years old, I thought only kids under 4 go free.

Posted by
8700 posts

It is a policy of German Rail to offer free tickets to children 14 and younger who are traveling with an adult. If you are traveling directly from a point in France to a point in Germany with no connections, then you can get a similar deal when booking on the French Rail site. However, If you start in France and have to make a connection in Germany, then children 14 and younger will travel free on the entire route if you book on the German Rail site, but they won't if you book on the French Rail site. Children 3 and younger travel free on routes within France. If you need to book in English on tgv-europe.com, then first choose Great Britain as your country of residence. If you say you live in the US, you will be bumped to the US Rail Europe site. Then choose to stay with tgv-europe.com and don't let yourself get bumped to the UK Rail Europe site. Then choose to either print your own tickets (when offered) or to pick up them up at any SNCF station in France.

Posted by
5255 posts

Tim writes, "If you are traveling directly from a point in France to a point in Germany..." Espe is flying from Berlin to Paris - that's his only connection between these two countries.

Posted by
8700 posts

I know about Espe's plans to fly from Berlin to Paris. I included France-Germany just to give him the complete picture on child fares.

Posted by
25 posts

So when I search for these rails, I still have to enter the number of children traveling right ? and let the website account if they ride free or not right ? Anyhow, I am find out that researching these rails are very confusing and frustrating. Depending on which route you are traveling, there is not one website that will give the best rate. 1) Frankfurt - Rudesheim RMV.de = Euro 33.6 Bahn.de = Euro 37 2) Rudesheim - Berlin Bahn.de = Euro 137 3) Berlin - Paris ...Flying 4) Paris - Marseille Voyages-sncf.com = Euro 150 TGV-Europe.com = Euro 334 5) Marseille - Interlaken Voyages-sncf.com = Euro 367 TGV-Europe = Euro 337 6) Interlaken - Frankfurt TGV-Europe = Euro 394
Bahn.de = Euro 138 Thanks for all the suggestions, I have seen a big difference in prices so far. Any other sites I should also check out. I am just nervous about buying tickets without knowing if I can make these schedules. On some of these sites I did not choose English as language or traveler origin, I wonder once I do claim that I am American they would quote me a difference price. I have some more research to do. Thanks guys for all your help. Save me over $1000 already.

Posted by
167 posts

We considered passes for our 30 day trip through Europe this summer. However, since I'm a student of travel I decided to try P-P instead for the experience of doing so. I figured I've saved at least $500 so far. The biggest problem is that you have to learn each of the country rail sites and their quirks. This has been a major challenge for me and I've spent MANY hours working with them to learn the ins and outs. It's been like a reality game show trying to learn how to type the names of the stations, learning how to get the lowest fares, transferring between trains. The hardest part is learning how to out-wit Rail Europe for ticket delivery. Pete
June 2012 (London, Paris, Colmar, Lauterbrunnen, Venice, 5T)

Posted by
5255 posts

Leg 1): To get the 25.70 € price I gave you, do not buy a ticket for 4 individuals. Buy instead the special ticket for that distance - the "Gruppentageskarte 5 Personen" and you buy it at the airport ticket machine. Your best prices for the 5 legs add up to 799€, or US$1064. The 5-day railpass for 3 countries, saver version, will cost $1206 for the 4 of you. But in this case I think the pass is probably still a better deal even if you save $138 altogether on the price. 1.) The railpass allows you take almost any train you want. If you miss a train with an advance-sale discount ticket, or if you want to take a different train, you will forfeit the cost of the ticket and have to buy a new one at full price. If you buy your advance-purchase Rüdesheim-Berlin ticket now, then you decide later you want to make a stop in pretty Marburg or wherever, you cannot; the ticket is inflexible. With a railpass, you can stop as you please. 2.) With the railpass, there are bonus features, and you can take ANOTHER trip on the same day of travel if you wish; if you use it for leg 1, for example, then you can use the K-D river cruise boats for free on that same day, and you can return by train to Rüdesheim after that for free too. In Interlaken, you can use the lake boats for free on a railpass day, and there are some discounts for mountain railways. 3.) You only have to buy and present one set of railpasses - you'll have to buy 5 separate tickets the other way from different agencies. 4.) The pass is first class. You'll probably have more room and perhaps a better chance to sit together if you go without reservations. 5.) If someone gets sick or injured and you have to travel on a different day, or you just want to change your travel plan to spend more time somewhere, you can do that with a pass, but not with discount rail tickets.

Posted by
12400 posts

"...pretty Marburg...." a very apt description, it is pretty.

Posted by
18056 posts

According to RMV, a "single trip ticket" (Einzelfahrkarte) from the airport to Rüdesheim a.R. is €7,30 for an adult and €4,40 for a child up to and including 14 years. That's €23,40 for the four of you. Since you are not going back to the airport, that seems to be all you would need.

Posted by
25 posts

Russ , I will definitely consider your suggestion of the 5 day Eurail Pass. Actually, if I buy the tix @ the train station for Frankfurt to Rudesheim/Rhine and I fly Berlin to Paris, two out of six routes unused, I have an extra day of use for this pass. Who knows I might need this extra rail day somewhere in my travel, marseille to Nice/Cannes ? I do believe I still need to make reservations for leg 2, 4,5, 6, which will add another €150-250 for 4. of us. My boys really wants to ride the high speed trains, they all require reservations. Sounds reasonable ?

Posted by
8700 posts

Yes, you have to enter the ages of your children and let the sites calculate fares for them. tgv-europe.com is a multi-language SNCF site. I don't understand why you would find different fares on it and voyages-sncf.com for the same trains. bahn.de is cheaper for Interlaken-Frankfurt because your children will ride free. If you give us your travel dates, I'll see what are the best fares I can find for those dates. The point Russ makes about using passes on lake boats and mountain railways in Switzerland is a good one. If you decide to get passes, be sure to buy your seat reservations for trains that require them before leaving home. SNCF limits the number of seats it allocates to passholders. With four of you traveling together, you might not be able to take the TGV of your choice if you wait to buy the reservations in France. Euraide will sell you all the reservations you want for as many rides as you want at in-Europe prices for one relatively low fee. You'll lose flexibility doing it that way, but you'll definitely save money.

Posted by
5255 posts

"I do believe I still need to make reservations for leg 2, 4,5, 6, which will add another €150-250 for 4. of us." I don't know where you're getting this information. I do not see any reservations requirements at all at the DB website for leg 2 or leg 6. If you DO want reservations anyway, they are 4€ each.
Perhaps legs 4 and 5 will require reservations, I haven't looked.

Posted by
25 posts

Tim, Here are my travel dates... May 17 Arrive in Frankfurt 11:25am, go to Rudesheim May 19 Rudesheim to Berlin May 22 Berlin - Paris (EasyJet $236) Orly @ 10:20am May 25 Paris - Marseille May 29 Marseille - Interlaken
May 31 Interlaken - Frankfurt Thanks for all your efforts. I really appreciate it.

Posted by
8700 posts

FRA-Rudesheim: Either buy the Gruppentageskarte described by Russ or the Hessenticket I listed in my first post. Rudesheim-Berlin: Depending upon the departure time, I found fares of €109 and €129. For some departure times you would have to connect in Leipzig. While seat reservations aren't required, to be sure to be able to sit together it would be a good idea to get them. A family seat reservation covering all four of you costs €8. Buy it on bahn.de when you book your tickets. Paris-Marseille: Prices vary for different departure times and because I suspect that the cheapest discount fare tickets are gone for some of those times. The best fare I found on voyages-sncf.com is €264 for the TGV departing at 07:07. Marseille-Interlaken: Fares vary depending upon the departure time. The best fare I found on voyages-sncf.com is €367 for Marseille-Geneva-Basel-Interlaken Ost, departing at 13:44 and arriving at 20:28. Interlaken-Frankfurt: Book on bahn.de. One departure time listed a fare of €118. Several departure times listed a fare of €138. Again, you can get a family seat reservation for €8.

Posted by
25 posts

Guys, Your recommendations are definately right on. It has taken me a long time to come to what you recommended a week ago. As I am researching, I find that perhaps the only mandatory reservation I need is for leg 4 and 5: particulary on TVG portion of the trip. Routes in Germany or Switzerland do not seem to require reservations. I think TGV reservation for trips with in France may run 4-6 euro per person. I don't want to pay $60 to Euraide just to reserve leg 4 and 5. Is there a website I can book TVG reservations without using Rail Europe or paying someone $60 ? Is this unavoidable if I want to reserve ?