My sister and I are leaving for a Europe trip this July. We have a few question on transportation with trains. We are hesitant to purchase a Eurail Global Pass because of the cost. We aren't sure if we will end up saving money by purchasing a Eurail 15-day Select Pass because of possibly of having to buy some point to point along with that. I put a short summary of our itinerary following this. Please advise us on what you would recommend for our situation.
July 23rd:Fly in to Madrid
July 23rd - 25: Stay in Madrid
July 25th: Night Train to Paris
July 26th-July 28th: Stay in Paris
July 28th: Night Train to Rome
July 29th - August 1st: Stay in Rome
August 1st: morning train from Rome to Florence
August 1st - August 3rd: Stay in Florence
August 3rd: morning train from Florence to Venice
August 3rd- 4th: Stay in Venice
August 4th: Night Train to Vienna
August 5th - 7th: Stay in Vienna
August 7th: Train to Prague
August 7th - 9th: Stay in Prague
August 9th: Night Train to Munich
August 10th - 12th: Stay in Munich
August 12th: Morning train to Heidelberg
August 12th - 14th: Stay in Heidelberg
August 14th: Morning train to Hamburg
August 14th - 15th: Stay in Hamburg
August 15th: Midday train to Berlin
August 15th - 18th: Stay in Berlin
August 18th: Night Train to Madrid
August 19th: 12pm fly home
Another question we had involves reservations. Looking at raileurope.com, some night trains had reservation fees of over 100 euros. Do you recommend reservations? If so, how do we go about reserving seats at a lower cost.
What does a pass work for? I assume not local.
Other people are in a better position to comment on this, but seen what you have planned (which, for just fifteen days, is completely outrageous ~ but that's another matter), I'd say you would benefit from a EUrail pass.
Reservation fees up to EUR100 strike me as unlikely. Maybe you confuse them with surcharges for a bed, which may be somewhere in that region during high season and if booked on short notice. In most night trains, seat reservation is compulsory, and unless you book well in advance, the cheapest seats are all gone. Just a tip: travelling during weekdays (in any case, not on fri or sun nights) may make your life a little bit easier reservation-wise.
I don't fully understand you last question: EUrail most definitely is valid on local trains. It's the essence of the whole programme if you ask me
Eurail pass holders can use the high speed ICE trains in Germany without paying any supplement and reservation is not necessary for day trains, while for most of the other countries supplement has to be paid and reservation is compulsory for high speed trains, like the TGV in France.
What would really save a lot of money is cutting down that list of destinations. You will barely get a feel for any of them before you have to move on. I'd chop that number of destinations in half and spend more time in each of them. It will save you a lot of money in transportation cost and improve your experience in my opinion.
Reservations for night trains are usually a good idea. I'd definitely do that.
Thanks for everyone's suggestions! We appreciate all your help. Just wanted to confirm then - the pass will work for whatever train I want to use within the 21 countries? Also, where can I get reservations for the trains? On-line? By phone? Or can I only do it while I’m in Europe?
No-one said that the pass works for all trains, which would be very much untrue. Certain trains, especially luxurious long-distance night trains (sometimes referred to as hotel trains) are off limits for pass holders.
Re booking: you need to book with the respective national carriers. A travel agent can help you to make advance bookings for the most crucial bits of your journey if you don't succeed doing it through the internet, but they usually charge a hefty fee for that. When dealing with Trenitalia (Italy), note that everything on their website works fine, except paying. They have an option where you can collect your reservations from a station of your choice and pay there, though.
Some museum trains are also off-limits just are some small privately operated trains.
But: You will be able to use the eurail pass to get to all places on your list.
BTW, did you check that there is a night train from Berlin to Madrid? IIRC travelling time from Berlin to Madrid by train was around 30 hours - you would not make it in time for your flight home.