I have been looking into how we are going to get around europe... We plan to go to eastern and western europe over atleast a three month period. The eurail pass sounds good but its about 2200AUD plus the reservation fee which is charged each time... Which seams to be a fair bit. I was hoping to hear from people that had used the eurail pass and the costs associated with it.. In particular what reservation fees you were paying. Also people that had flown trained and bussed round europe I know you can get good deals if you book ahead but we plan to do it with no great plan and just have a route we'd like to achieve and if we do.. we do... So any experienced input would be greatly appreciated...
It all depends on how much you intend to be on the road; personally I don't think €1300 for a three-month pass is too outrageous, but it would be a waste if you don't put it to full use.
Afaik, the reservation fees are only charged for non-local connections (night trains, intercities, hispeed); they're usually VERY reasonable, so they shouldn't be an important factor in your decision-making. Many national railway companies also have other discount programmes that may be more interesting than EUrail depending on your situation.
Flights are a bad idea in a number of respects; they're expensive (the cheap rates are very hard to come by), you miss all the scenery, the contacts with locals that are inherent in just any train journey, plus there's the pollution... Busses are a feasible alternative to trains, but terribly uncomfortable (but really cheap; Eurolines Amsterdam-Vienna, to give you some idea, would be only €80).
It would help if you posted a sketch of your itinerary; that way, one of us may be able to give you an estimate of the costs involved if you booked trains/busses/flights the normal way.
Reservations/Supplements are only required on certain journeys, and are normally only 3-6euros, though that does add up over the weeks/months. Night journeys you will pay a bit more, but for couchette (basically a bunk you can lie on) accom. In most cases you can use services without these to save money, but they can take longer &/or changes. But if you are on a tight budget, it is certainly feasible.
In Eastern Europe in general terms, you will need to be travelling lots of long distances for a pass to pay off. Tickets are cheap, and even cheaper if you change at borders. Italy is also cheap. (And most places are cheap if you book in advance). And parts of SE Europe, such as Croatia etc, have poor rail services except on a few routes so you will end up using lots of buses or ferries instead. Thus if you have a fairly logical route and are not travelling every day, you can save money by not having a pass for the whole time. It might be better, for example, to explore buying tickets as you go for Eastern Europe, but then get a pass for 1 month when you are going to be mostly in North and Western Europe where tickets are much more expensive.
Thanks for your input... When booking these train trips is it best to book over the net or at some type of travel agency? Do you have any good sites i can look up. "Many national railway companies also have other discount programmes that may be more interesting than EUrail depending on your situation." Regarding this statement. Our rough direction will be from london to france, spain france italy greece up to croatia across to switzerland liechtenstein germany out through the netherlands.. So seeing all that there will be a fair need for alot of travel... Any more Ideas????????
Hi Brett. As far as Croatia is concerned I think you will probably have to take buses, at least along the coast. I looked into travelling there last year and could not find any sign of a reliable train system.
Flying is kind of hit and miss. It seems like you have to book flights at least a month in advance to actually get the good deals, but then they can be very good. If you're looking for flight resources, I have been using -snip- to find which cheap airlines fly the specific routes I'm interested in throughout Europe. It doesn't give you prices but it does narrow things down for you. Good luck with your travel plans.
[ Edit: Snipping out own site promo... ]
Have you had a look at seat61.com? It has a lot of good info about train travel and also has a list of the supplements you would have to pay with the Eurrail pass..
With respects to internet booking, you can book train tickets online in most countries, but to be honest it's not worth your while unless it's for a train that you need to book heavily in advance. Just go up to the ticket office in the station when you arrive at your destination and book the next leg of your journey. I've never had a problem doing that in Europe, though you might want to bring a pen and paper to write out where you want to go if nobody speaks English.
Just to drive home what you get with the 3-months Global Eurail pass: Depending upon the type of pass (adult, saver, youth), you pay between 10 and 16 EUR per day. In Germany a journey of one hour on the train costs roughly 10 EUR.
All you need to do is to average 1-2 hours per day of train travel (in Western Europe, more in Eastern) and you'll get your money's worth.
There are of course some tricks to do it cheap without a Eurail pass, but you need to know a ton about train, bus and plane tickets for this and do a lot of research. Most importantly you'll need a fixed initiary and plan that initiary around the bargains, I doubt that this is your thing. (Which is why I refrain for now from a more detailed explanation - it would take me several hours to write down what I know about such bargains. )
[ Edit: Edited on Feb 4, 2008, at 6:02 PM by t_maia ]