Are Eurail Passes Worth the Money?

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One of the more popular ways of traveling around Europe these days is to buy a Eurail pass (which allows rail access to up to 23 countries) and travel by train.

This often involves paying a lump sum up front and not having to worry about buying train tickets for the rest of your travels.

The advantages to traveling this way are obvious (as you won’t spend more than you have or get stuck somewhere), but does buying a Eurail pass make fiscal sense, or is it cheaper in the long run to buy individual train tickets?

Let’s take a look…

To start with, there are actually several different Eurail passes on offer these days. These are the:

  • One country pass (allowing access to a single country, starting from €37).
  • Regional pass (allowing access to 2 countries, starting from €127).
  • Select pass (allowing access to 3, 4 or 5 countries, starting from €228).
  • Global pass (allowing access to all 23 countries, starting from €358).

You may occasionally be charged a ‘booking fee’ when using these passes, but this is only in certain countries and should cost you no more than €15.

As well as the number of countries you wish to visit, the price of your Eurail pass will also be determined by the how many individual days you want to travel on the train.

For example, a pass that allows you to travel on 10 individual days within 2 month period will cost more than a pass that allows you to travel just 5 days out of a 2 month period.

Amsterdam Train Station

Every Eurail pass that you buy can only be used for a limited amount of time (usually 2 months, although they range from 15 days to 3 months).

This time limit means that using a Eurail pass may cause you to rush through your trip more quickly than you’d like, and it can make travel less spontaneous (as you can only travel on a certain number of days within a certain period).

Some travelers may enjoy the fact that they know they can simply buy one pass and not have to worry about their transportation costs for the rest of the trip. Others may see buying individual train tickets as an adventure, and may relish the extra freedom that this brings.

So are these passes worth it?

If you’re a young-ish person (let’s say under 25 years of age) who is fairly inexperienced in traveling and wishing only to travel within Western Europe (where train tickets are significantly more expensive than in the east), I would heartily recommend getting a Eurail pass.

If you’re a student (or a senior), you’re entitled to a fairly large discount on Eurail passes. You won’t receive such as discount if you buy your train tickets separately, so this can be a massively deciding factor.

A simple jaunt through a few Western European countries (such as Germany, France and Italy) could cost you a hundreds of dollars in train tickets (we’re talking $500+) if you choose to buy your tickets on the go (due to the ever-rising prices of train tickets in these countries). Buying the Select Eurail pass instead could cost you as little as $277, meaning you could do the same trip for a fraction of the price.

However, if you’re traveling in Central or Eastern Europe (where the prices of train tickets are considerably lower), it’s worth investigating just how much individual train tickets and bus services cost in the countries you’re planning on visiting, as there’s a strong chance that buying a Eurail pass will result in you paying considerably more than this.

It is also worth noting that if you’re traveling to Eastern Europe (where the language barrier may make buying the correct train ticket even more difficult than usual), or if it’s your first time traveling, it might be better to buy a Eurail pass before you leave, thereby eliminating the need to buy any other train tickets down the line (meaning you’ll never accidentally buy the wrong train ticket).

Related posts:

  1. Eurail Passes – A Complete Guide
  2. How to Get Cheap Ski Lift Passes
  3. How You Can Save Money on Plane Tickets By Buying Them Separately
  4. 7 Reasons to Travel by Train
  5. Bus & Coach Travel in Europe

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