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Eurail Pass – Is it worth it?

After much deliberating, advice giving and bad mouthing that we’d heard about the pass, we’ve decided to buck up and buy the Eurail Pass. A two month continuous pass that will allow us unlimited access to 21 countries. If you travel with two or more people, you can opt for the Saver Pass, which gives you a little bit of a deal and automatically puts you in 1st class cabins.

The beauty of hopping on a night train in France and waking up in Italy sounds incredible.  We could muck about Venice for a day then hop on another night train and be off to Austria the next day. We are looking forward to abusing the pass to its fullest. The savings on accomodation are helpful. We’d be sleeping on a night train instead of paying for a hostel or hotel. Canadian Denny from Glasgow’s Blue Sky Hostel told us how he’d made it half way out of some Eastern European country only to get a message from a friend who demanded he turn around for an epic party he’d be missing. Like a true Canadian, Denny’s well trained resistance to the word party failed and he got off at the next stop, turned around and made his appearance at said function. He said it was worth it and we believed him.

Yes, airlines like Ryan Air and Easy Jet offer insanely cheap flight deals daily (a recent posting listed a flight to Dublin for £9) and how could you resist? However, there’s always a catch. These airlines will get you with their hidden or added fees. From having to pay for a cup of coffee on your flight, to having different sized bag measurers for onboard baggage. A friend recently told me that he had met the bag size limit when he checked in, but once he entered the gate for his cheap airline the baggage sizer was different (smaller). The airline then claimed he did not meet the baggage limit and would have to pay for his bag to be checked. So we’ve decided to stick with trains.

Inside the Eurail pass, they take full advantage of quickly pointing out that trains are green.
 “Dear Eurail Traveler…by choosing to travel with Eurail, you are using one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transportation. On most European journeys, high-speed trains generate between 4 and 40 times less CO2 per passenger than other modes of transport. Travelling by rail uses 2 to 3 times less energy than journeys by road.”
And the advantages that come with the pass are vast with discounts on ferry rides throughout the Greek Islands and many other European countries.

This doesn’t come without some areas of possible concern. Ticket entry, reservations and extra charges. You basically use the pass as if it were money, but you could end up paying for the full ticket price if you simply blip and forget to log your journey onto the chart they provide you with, you risk a fine and payment of a full fare ticket. The Eurail guide also notes that there’s a good chance you might not even get a seat unless you make a reservation in advance. Reservations are necessary for many trains and ships at an extra charge and you have to pay extra for sleeping cabins. And, if any portion of your journey goes through a country that is not included by the pass, you are required to buy a ticket for that leg of your trip.

When purchasing your pass there’s an option to buy coverage for a lost or stolen pass, but here’s the kicker, Eurail cannot issue you a replacement card. They state that you must purchase the rest of your travel (keeping all receipts) and they will refund you; however, there is a Maximum Coverage Amount applicable, based on the amount of remaining days of your trip. And, you have to file a police report (and keep a record) within 24 hours of your pass being lost or stolen.

We have decided to keep a running log comparing the cost and usage of our Eurail pass and find out if it’s really worth it. I can tell you that it is 20% less expensive to buy the pass online than at a travel agency or transportation service that deals with Eurail.

Woot woot
The Limey

One comment on “Eurail Pass – Is it worth it?

  1. kate
    October 12, 2010

    sounds like you've done your homework =D way to reduce your carbon footprint guys!

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This entry was posted on October 9, 2010 by in Backpacking.
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