Monday, June 10, 2013

Eurailpass vs. Individual Tickets

Very little about calculating travel costs is simple today. Fares vary for virtually every type of transportation, and so do costs for hotel rooms based on time of year, demand, etc.

One of the advantages of a Eurailpass is that it offers unlimited travel for a set price and a set time period in a certain number of countries. However, even it does not cover all costs of rail travel in Europe--there are extra charges for seat reservations, required on many trains, and for overnight accommodations.

There is a good discussion of the cost of a pass compared with buying individual tickets on Nomadic Matt's blog today--the reference is In it he compares a specific rail journey from Lisbon to Berlin using a railpass and buying individual tickets at the last minute.

The individual tickets win, but not by a huge amount. He took two overnight trains with sleeper accommodation, so that added significantly to the cost even with a pass. (Of course, he also saved on hotels for those nights.)

His conclusion is that a railpass may be worthwhile in certrain cases. It seems that it could be more valuable in Northern Europe than in Southern Europe, since fewer trains in the former require reservations even when you have a pass.

For my part, I miss the days when with a Eurailpass you could go anywhere within the system without reservations. You did risk having to stand in a corridor (and I did that more than once,) but I found that OK compared with the hassle of making reservations.

 I would recommend the Eurailpass mainly for those who really love train travel, and aren't too concerned about cost. European trains really can be wonderful, it's just too bad they screwed up a system that used to work well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Margaret,

This latest topic took me back to a wonderful trip I took around Europe in 1977 with a Eurailpass, a backpack, and no destinations planned, just the desire to travel. We had a copy of the Cook's train travel guide, which listed all train schedules in every country covered by the pass. As you mentioned, it wasn't necessary to reserve seats, one could just pick a train and hop on. Often we took overnight trains to save on accommodation, not really caring what the destination was. And yes, I too recall having to stand in corridors for the duration of a train ride -- but when one is young and adventurous that's all part of the adventure. Such good memories. Thanks for reminding me and keep up the good work with your blog, which is so interesting.

9:43 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wrote the last comment and forgot to add my name -- it's Joan in PEI again, your old friend.

9:45 am


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