I finally bought my Eurail pass! It was a big decision that involved a lot of tedious research.
I will be travelling for 10 weeks, 8 of which will be outside of the UK. I am visiting over 10 countries (other than UK & Ireland) in this order: Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Denmark, Austria, Italy, and Greece.
I originally considered getting the Eurail pass 2 months continuous for Global Youth = ~ $1400 CAD. However, the majority of the trains I was looking at were high speed, which has a reservation cost around $10-40 CAD for each reservation. So let’s say around $2000 CAD for transportation in general.
- Money: I am a student who is in a lot of debt. I’m trying to finance this trip using scholarships and savings 😦 .Also, these reservations would have to be made in advance. Now, if I book these reservations with Eurail, that’s 8 euros (~&12 CAD) each time on TOP of the reservation fee of $10-40 mentioned earlier.
- Flexibility: I have to have the reservation tickets mailed to me, which decreases flexibility. I would like to be able to change my mind about which cities I’m visiting, and what days I’m leaving each city. I don’t know what will happen – maybe I will get sick and be unable to go a long way. Maybe I’ll find a group of travellers I’d like to be around for a while. Maybe I will get mugged and be too poor to visit more cities.
I booked some cheap flights (Ryanair and Easyjet) and trains for the first few and last few weeks of my trip so that I have a general idea of what I am doing at the start and the end. Then, I realized I only really need the Eurail pass for a month. So I did my research and calculated how much it would be if I bought individual tickets vs. how much I would spend on Eurail pass + reservations. In the end, I bought a 1 month Global Youth Pass and it came with 5 extra days! I can use these days whenever. I am also planning on using Blablacar and local busses/trains.
- Make a general plan of what cities you are visiting and in what order
- Look into Blablacars and see if there are currently rideshare opportunities for the route you need, and decide if this will likely be available during the time of your trip
- Look into Megabus and see if there are cheap busses/ if you are willing to be on a bus for that length of time
- Make a spreadsheet that has a column for “From”, one for “To”, one for “Date”, for “Ticket price”, and “Reservations”. From and To get filled with cities. Dates are tentative. Ticket price can be train or bus ticket prices that you find. Keep in mind that those are current prices and that they may go up closer to the actual date, depending on when you are travelling. Reservations is if you DO get a Eurail pass, does THAT ROUTE require reservations? If so, how much? Do the math and then make your decision. Note that the pass gives you a lot of flexibility for trains that don’t require reservations.
Best of luck with your plans!