While railpasses have lost some of their bargain over the years, I mentioned in another thread the possiblity that a cost advantage may be present. You can buy a railpass at current prices (set last January) for travel beginning as late as June. In January, prices will change for passes, and by June, given the Dollar/Euro exchange, point to point tickets may be even higher than now, relatively speaking. It seems that you should be reaping the benefits of a year and a half of currency changes and inflation, assuming that the pass worked for you before all this. Another possibility: will the Eurail commission hold or offer incentives with passes to attract US tourism in a tough market? It seems somewhat logical that economic conditions should favor the passes.
Tourism in Europe is not suffering, to our knowledge.
Tourism to the US, however , has greatly diminished due to the entry restrictions and fears - whether baseless or not= that the simplest misstatement or mistake at a US port of entry will result in all manner of unpleasantness , up to and including imprisonment.
While buying early could defeat the inevitable decline of the Dollar vis=a=vis the Euro, point tix will continue to offer more flexibilty and likely will STILL cost less
Here's why I support the use of Rail Passes:
point to point costs:
aix-avignon r/t - 30E
avignon-toulouse - 29E
toulouse-marseille - 48E
marseille-les arcs - 14.10
les arcs-marseille - 21.00
marseille-paris - 76.80
paris-caen r/t - 51.00E
paris-strasbourg r/t - 90.80E
paris-lyon - 78.10E
lyon-roissy - 78.10E
total = 516.90E
pass: 223E + supplements: 22.50E =
total savings: 271.40E!!!!
Even when I took into account discounts on tickets and purchasing reservations, the price of the Rail Pass was still worth it. I am an impulse traveler; I love the ability to make up my mind the day before or even minutes before departure. It definitely enabled me to see a lot more of France compared to if I was restricted to point-to-point tickets.
However, Rail Passes aren't for everyone. I advise everyone to do the calculations before making any final decisions. If you won't use the train that much and are certain when you will travel, buy individual tickets.
To save money, I buy a France-Italy railpass when I travel to these countries. The trip from Paris to Venice, a one-day trip if you have stamina, would be very expensive if paid for point-point. Even a trip Paris-Nice costs a lot. If you have only short hops and only one per day, point to point tickets probably make more sense financially.
I also like to buy railpasses because it allows me to pre-pay part of my vacation. Sometimes I make reservations and sometimes I don't. It depends on the time of day, the train type (ES or regional). At least half the time I just get on a train without making a reservation.
Well, Martine, the best advice you gave was to do the calculations before making any decision (of course that is difficult if you don't decide until minutes before departure).
A few years ago, my wife and I landed in Stuttgart, went to Rothenburg, then to Berchtesgaden, then to Fischen (near Oberstdorf). We took a one day round trip to Lindau, then Sigmaringen via Ulm. The last leg back to Stuttgart was with a local transit ticket, so we wouldn't have needed a rail pass day. At today’s prices and exchange rate, point-point tickets for the five major days of travel would have been $524. German Rail Twin passes would have been $420. However, we used Länder Tickets (1 Baden-Württemburg-Ticket, 4 Bayern-Tickets, and a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket for €168 total, $247. So we saved over $170 vs. passes.