28 June, 2017
Stephen
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Exploring Europe: Is Buying A Eurail Pass Worth it?

Is a Eurail Pass worth it?  If you are planning an Europe adventure it is an important question to ask yourself. 

After all, as backpackers, we thrive saving every penny we can. 

Finding the cheapest way to get from A to B can save you hundreds over time. 

I’ve traveled Europe almost every way imaginable from budget airlines to hitchhiking. And Eurail is my favorite, as well as, one of the cheapest ways to travel Europe. 

That being said Eurail might not be right for everyone and in all cases. 

The prices of passes have gone up over the years and in some cases even with a pass you will need to purchase a reservation. (Although, below I will tell you how to avoid the reservation fees). This begs the question of how much value a Eurail pass still holds. 

Let’s dive in the post to figure out the worth of a Eurail pass, how it works, and what it covers. 

WHAT IS A EURAIL PASS?

Eurail Rail offers a range of different passes so you can get a pass that is perfect for you needs.

A Eurail pass is essentially a ticket that works for specific countries within Europe.

You buy the pass before heading to Europe and are emailed a blank ticket. Then, once you are in Europe, you can hop on and off trains at your convenience, filling in the ticket as you go.

WHAT COUNTRIES DOES THE EURAIL PASS COVER?

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  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
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  • Hungary
  • Ireland
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The passes cover train routes in over 28 countries across Europe, and even gets you onto some ferries.  The Eurail’s ease of travel and freedom make the pass an attractive option for travelers across Europe. 

Eurail combines affordable prices and freedom which makes it a great way to travel Europe cheaply!

You can choose a pass good for one country, a few bordering countries, (such as Italy, France, and Spain), or a global pass which is good in all 27 countries.

HOW LONG IS THE EURAIL PASS GOOD ?

The duration of a Eurail pass is really up to you! Eurail gives offers different pass options to suit your needs.

You can buy a France and Italy Eurail Pass good for 5, 10, or 15 days of train travel. And fortunately, you only lose a day from you pass on the days you take the train.  Passes can be valid for 1 -3 months depending on your travel plans.

For example, if you have a 1 month Eurail Pass with 5 days of train travel. It means in that month you can hop on a train 5 days within that one-month period. Note: using one of your days is a 24-hour period, not one specific train journey. Within those 24 hours, you can hop on and off the train as much as you want.

It is easy to book the right pass on the Eurail website.

But a Eurail pass isn’t quite a golden ticket. On more popular routes, you will have to pay reservation fees, even if you have a Eurail Pass. From personal experience, these charges are as little as a few Euros. Although once, on a sleeper train from Barcelona to Lisbon, the fee was 40 Euro.

Ways You Can Avoid Paying Fee's

For the most part, these fees can be avoided by using the Eurail App.

Not only does the app make train travel a breeze with updated train schedules and routes, but by going into the search options, you request the app only show trains without reservations.

Usual these trains take longer but allow you to avoid paying reservations fees and keep more money in your pocket. Before the app, figuring out how to get on trains without reservation fees was a nightmare.

The app makes it a breeze to skip trains with reservation fees and adds even more value to the Eurail Pass even more worth it.  Sadly, for some trains (like overnight trains) it is almost impossible to get by without paying a fee.

What happens if you Lose Your Eurail Pass

Eurail does offer pass protection in case the unthinkable happens, and your pass is lost or stolen trip. If the pass is lost your journey doesn’t have to stop. All you need to do is by train tickets as you go.

Upon returning home file a claim and submit all the train tickets you bought, and they reimburse you for those trip up to the remaining value of your pass.

Trip protection needs to be purchased when buying your pass.

Does a Eurail Pass Save you Money

Now, the million-dollar question, or at least the hundreds of dollars question: is the Eurail Pass worth it? Will it save me money?

What better way to see than with real life data and fares.

A couple of months ago I bought a Eurail Global Pass that had unlimited days of travel a 30-day span. I wanted to travel as much of Europe by train as possible to figure out if buying a Eurail Pass is actually worth it.

Note: all prices were found on Rail Europe at least a week before each departure. I am also over 26, which means I had to have a 1st class Eurail Pass. The below prices reflect the 1st class pass.

My Route

Travel Day 1: Berlin – Wroclaw, Ticket Price:  $98

Travel Day 2: Wroclaw, Poland – Helsingborg, Sweden Ticket Price: $335

Travel Day 3: Helsingborg, Sweden – Stockholm, Sweden, Ticket Price: $86

Travel Day 4: Barcelona, Spain – Lisbon, Portugal, Ticket Price: $196

Travel Day 5: Lisbon, Portugal – Paris, France, Ticket Price: $328

Travel Day 6: Paris, France – Bruges, Belgium, Ticket Price: $106

Travel Day 7: Bruges, Belgium – Eindhoven, Netherlands, Ticket Price: $158

Travel Day 8: Eindhoven, Netherlands – Helsingborg, Sweden, Ticket Price: $249

Total Price of Tickets: $1,556 ( I got all prices from RailEurope)

That is a huge chunk of change!

I had a Global Pass for 30 days of continuous travel. The price: $1110.

How much did I save?  $1556 – $1110 = $446

So, buying the pass saved me $446.

However, I could have saved even more. No one actually needs 30 days of continuous travel (unless you enjoy living on a train and only seeing Europe as it rushes past your train window).

I always tell people to spend two or three days in each city, and as you can see, I only spent 8 days of travel on the train.

I could have easily saved more by buying a pass with 10 days of train travel.

The price of a Global Pass with 10 days of travel is $825, meaning I would have saved $731!

Over the course of my experiment, I only had to pay one reservation fee—an overnight train from Madrid – Lisbon cost an extra $40 and gave me a bed for the night as well.  But either way, I still saved hundreds of dollars using a Eurail Pass.

So is a Eurail Pass worth it?

The numbers don’t lie. It is hands down a great investment and a fantastic way to save hundreds while traveling across Europe.

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