I am planning to take a month off from work on around May or June and go backpacking in Europe. I would like to visit the following countries. UK -> French -> Belgium -> Netherlands -> Germany -> Switzerland -> Italy then back home from there. If time allowed, i would like to add Czech and Austria in the middle.
I been trying to find a way to travel from these countries to 1 another. All i can find is this http://www.eurail.com/eurail-global-pass?currency=usd , it will cost me over $1200 to get this pass. that's just way too expensive for me.
Just want to know if there are any cheaper ways to take the train or is there another site with better deals. Someone told me i might be able to find cheaper tickets just buy from 1 place to another, but i dont really have the time to stay in 1 city and wait for a good deal. Need to come back to work after the month vacation is over.
Any help will be appreciated.
Thanks and Happy holidays!
So you'll be travelling for 1 month, and you're over 26 (my assumption, based on the price indication you've given). Are you planning to be travelling nearly daily, or just from one main city (usually the capital I guess) of a country to another?
By your time span, I'd imagine it's more likely to be the latter (e.g. Paris in France, Brussels in Belgium etc) since you've listed at least 7 countries for travel within 30 days or so, giving approximately 4-5 days per country. Adding on another 2 countries is really not advisable. That'll whittle down your travel to mostly 3 days per country (or should I say, per city).
Nonetheless, if you still want to look at getting a rail pass, assuming you're travel from one major city to another, instead of getting the one-month continuous travel pass, why not get the one that allows 10 travel days in 2 months? That'll cost you $939 (average cost $94 per travelling day). Note that Eurail is NOT valid in UK.
Again, on assumption, if your itinerary looks something along:
London - Paris - Brussels - Amsterdam - Berlin - Zurich - Rome
So there's only 6 journeys to take in total. Even 10 travel days would be too many, and you could be wasting the additional journeys. If you don't use those extra travel days, and seeing Eurail can't be used in UK, the cost per travelling day now effectively nearly doubled. You can buy city to city tickets cheaper than that if you plan well in advance.
You don't wait for deals to come up. In fact, best deals here usually come when you book in advance. Tickets are usually on sale 3 months ahead of travel time, and there's limited number of seats per train with those special prices. So the earlier you pin down your itinerary and therefore can book your train seats accordingly, the better it would be.
Buying from national railways of each country is usually where you can get the best prices. Based on assumed itinerary above, these would be the sites to look for your tickets from.
- Eurostar : price from $64; train for London-Paris
- Voyage-SNCF (France; site in French) : train for Paris-Brussels, also Brussels-Amsterdam
- DB Bahn (Germany) : price from €39; train for Amsterdam-Berlin, Berlin-Zurich
- SBB (Switzerland) or Trenitalia (Italy) : train for Zurich-Rome
Note: It's kinda weird that I can't seem to find ticket for Zurich-Rome from Trenitalia but I could find one for Zurich-Milan (which then would necessitate another purchase of Milan-Rome if Rome is to be the final destination). Normally I'm more inclined to use Italian rail site than Swiss, for travel betwen the two countries, because the Swiss site doesn't give pricing online right away whereas direct online booking on Trenitalia is rather straight-forward. I never quite know if it's cheaper to buy with SBB or Trenitalia but given things in Italy is generally cheaper than Switzerland, I'm inclined to think it's the same case with train prices. Maybe you should contact SBB for price quotation all the same, then compare?
For longer distances (say Paris to Rome) you should also look at flights. Some of the distances that you are going to travel by train are 10+ hours, so unless you take a night train you might be better off with budget flight.
www.skyscanner.net and whichbudget.com can help you find good deals.
Bus is also an option on some distances, but given the choice between bus and train for the same price I will always take the train: it is faster and more comfortable. See www.eurolines.com for more info.
Check each train company individually. You will be pleasantly surprised what deals they have and it will probably work out much cheaper for you to buy seperate tickets and bin the rail pass altogether.