I'm planning to travel in May/June 2005, on budget. I haven't made a fixed itinerary yet, but I'd like to hear your experiences - what are the pluses & minuses of Eurail vs Busabout? Which one is more convenient, etc.?
Any experience, good or bad, will be useful to me. TIA.
Type in Busabout as a forum search and that should lead you to some past discussions on it. I personally can't give you any advice on one vs. the other. Sorry
I've only been on Eurail, but I've met a lot of Bus-a-bout people along the way. If you're looking for convenience, I would have to say Eurail is the way to go. The trains covered by the pass have many more departure times than the Bus-a-bout buses. That way if you want to sleep in you can, or if you want to explore the city you're in for a few more hours, you can too. Another plus to Eurail is that you can get sleeper accomodations on overnight trains (although you have to pay a little more). What's good about this is that you can lie down on beds rather than try to get comfy in up-right seats.
For Bus-a-bout, if you're in a particular city, you only have a few options on where to go. For example, if you're in Barcelona, they only have non-stop departures to Madrid or Nice (I don't know what cities they actual have departures to, but I'm just trying to explain this a little better), so if you want to go to Berlin, you have to sit on the bus for hours on end going through all the cities they have along their specified route (as opposed to buying a train ticket direct to Berlin). Another thing that I heard that can be a negative aspect to Bus-a-bout is that they make random stops in the middle of the trip, so people can get on and explore whereever they're stopping (even if you don't want to).
However, that can also be a positive one. It lets you experience towns that you never would have thought of going to if you were travelling by yourself. Also, I heard Bus-a-bout is excellent for meeting new people and everyone is really friendly (which is great if you're travelling alone). Plus Bus-a-bout recommends places to stay at in the city that you're arriving in.
So that's all I can give ya really. I know you can pick up pamphlets for each at travel agencies (which is what we did to make our decision).
Hope that helps (and makes sense, lol)!
Katie, thanks for the info So, did you not buy Eurail ticket before you left for Europe? Is it OK if I just buy it when I get to Europe.
cg8tr, thanks anyway
Ive just come from Europe and used the Eurail. The most annoying thing is nowdays you almost every trip you must pay a reservation fee of about 10 euros on every trip and that starts to add up. But it is good if you want to go to particular places in a country not necessarily the capital cities or if you a prepared to be a SUPER TOURIST and spend one day in a city then do an overnight train to another city, stay there for a few hours and have a look and then move on to the next place and just use one trip on your eurail pass. If you only want to visit major cities i would seriously consider using round europe air pass from the star alliance lets say. A little more expensive than eurail but once you add all your reservation costs its not that much more but save probably about 30 hours traveling time or get an around the world air ticket as part of your original air fare. You can get more information from the star alliance web site.
This would be definetly the way to go for me next time i go to europe!!
Zags: We bought our passes before we left (If you buy the pass in Europe they are much more expensive then if you buy it at home. I believe these passes were made for tourists, hence them being cheaper abroad. Those who live in the EU use Interrail passes). You have to get them validated at the first train station you leave from in order for them to be valid. Check out the Eurrail website at www.eurrail.com .
George: You paid 10 euro reservation fees? When we went, we paid 2 euros, unless we reserved a couchette which was about 15 euros (depending on the country we were in). It isn't manditory that you reserve on these trains. There were times when we didn't and we had no problems finding seats. Only on one occasion did we not reserve and had to stand for most of the ride.