If you’re reading this article, it means you want to know more about traveling around Europe using a Eurail Pass. Are you confused by all the information about Eurail Pass there is on the internet? I’m here to clear it up with tips from my personal experience.
Approximately a month before embarking upon our Europe tour, we purchased a future-dated, Flexi 3-country Adult Saver Eurail pass from their official website. With the pass, we could make 6 days of train travel in and around France, Switzerland and Italy.
A pass for 6 days does not necessarily mean we’re allowed just 6 train rides. We can make more than 1 train journey in one day ultimately taking more train rides within 6 non-consecutive days. The Adult Saver pass was tiny bit cheaper than a regular pass because I chose to travel with a partner for every single train ride. It’s like booking a shared room costs you less than booking a single room. If you fall in ‘youth’ category, there are further savings.
The multiple options available to choose from, made it easier to get what we wanted instead of being stuck with a pass that was inflexible. The pass cost us $382 per person which was a pretty good deal considering the long journeys we made. We read up extensively on how to use the pass to its max potential and here are my tips:
1. Even though it’s a Flexi pass, planning your journeys ahead of time is highly recommended instead of impromptu getaways. Flexi plan just means you can pick your travel dates & timings, nothing else.
2. Having a Eurail Pass does not mean all your train journeys will be included in the pass price. You will have to pay reservation fees for every train reservation you make. Regional trains that don’t require reservation are included in the pass.
3. Buying the pass doesn’t mean you can board any train, any time. Most trains have mandatory reservations.
4. It takes several days for the pass to deliver at your address so make sure you receive it while you’re still living at the aforementioned address.
5. If your plans are concrete, you can make your train reservations and have the tickets shipped along with your Eurail Pass.
6. Activate your pass before making your first train journey. You can also activate it online before your trip however, you can’t return an activated pass.
7. Filling appropriate details about your journey before every train ride is important to avoid fines when the TC asks to see your pass in train. 99% times you Eurail Pass will be checked by a TC onboard. A valid ID is compulsory along with the Eurail Pass.
8. You can make multiple train journeys in 1 day. Meaning, if you take 1 train ride in a day, it’ll tick off 1 travel day on your pass and if you take more than 1 train rides in a day, it’ll still tick off only 1 travel day on your pass.
9. If your train ride begins after 7pm on a day and ends before 6am on the next day, it’ll still be counted as just 1 travel day instead of 2.
9. Sleeper coach trains have mandatory reservations and they are hard to get. Reserve in much advance for those if you plan to travel overnight.
10. Download GoEuro app for train schedules. It will also tell if you reservation is mandatory for a train. Some reservations can be made on Eurail website/app as well. So download Eurail app too. Alternately, you can also make reservations directly at train stations.
11. Check the train timings on display boards at before very journey at the train station. Cross check the train number on your ticket with the number on the board.
12. About 10-15 minutes before boarding, the platform will be displayed in front of the corresponding train.
13. Pick pockets are on constant prowl on train stations, especially in Italy and France. Beware and stay vigilant!
14. Panoramic trains of Switzerland require reservations and they sell out pretty quickly. Reserve in advance.
15. At times, booking a train ticket without using Eurail Pass will be beneficial when the tickets are cheap. That way you can save a train ride inlcuded in Pass, for an expensive journey later. Use the pass for longer and expensive journeys.
how to decide if i need a eurail pass?
EURAIL PASS IS NOT AN ECONOMIC OPTION FOR EVERYONE. To understand if the pass saves you money and serves convenience, draw your route on a map, jot every journey you need to make in a notebook. Create an itinerary which will show how many train rides you actually need to make, on what dates. Then optimize it by shuffling your planned routes so that you take lesser train rides, yet see everything on your plan. Check the prices for those trains and put them against each journey in your itinerary. Now add those up. This is what you will be spending without a Eurail Pass.
Now select a Eurail Pass you think will be appropriate for the destinations and duration you will be visiting Europe. Note it down. Now check prices for train tickets for all the same train rides above, but this time check the checkbox for ‘Eurail Pass’ which will show discounted ticket prices. Add these up along with a 10-15% reservation fee for every train ride. Eurail pass price + ticket prices + reservation price = amount you will be spending with Eurail Pass.
Compare the two prices and then make a decision about buying a Eurail Pass. Advantage of making a reservation with Eurail Pass is that if you decide to cancel the reservation, you just have to forfeit the reservation fee which is not much.
how do i buy a eurail pass?
Go the official Eurail website. Under the menu ‘Eurail Passes’, select ‘Find The Best Pass’. Or use this link to reach there directly. Enter the trip duration and number of travelers. After submitting, you will be further asked to enter countries, cities and the number of days you will be visiting each country. As you add countries, cities and days, the left panel will show you the updated cost of Eurail pass/es for whatever number of travelers you’ve mentioned. Go ahead and finish your purchase by giving passenger details. You will get confirmation email of the order along with the receipt. Your passes will arrive at the address you gave, in a few days.
For any doubts and queries, surprisingly, there’s a Whatsapp number you can contact. DM me for the number. Serious enquiries only!