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Eurail for Switzerland and Italy - LONG, SORRY!

Eurail for Switzerland and Italy - LONG, SORRY!

Feb 1st, 2011, 10:26 AM
  #1  
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Eurail for Switzerland and Italy - LONG, SORRY!

My family and I (2 adults, 1 child 13 yrs old, and 1 child 11 yrs old) will be traveling to Switzeland and Italy this summer (early July). We will arrive in Zurich, travel to Bern to stay with family. We plan to spend 4 days in Switzerland traveling within 2 hours of Bern. We planned to rent a car two days to take small day trips. (will only need train from Zurich to Bern)
We then plan to take the train to Sapri, Italy to visit more family. The plan is to take an evening train to Milan and an overnight train from Milan to Sapri. We will then spend 2 days with my father-in-law in Sapri. Our last train trip will be Sapri back to Rome where we will be staying for 3 days. (will need train from hotel to airport unless a taxi is cheaper)

This equals 5 rail days (one in Switzerland, one from Switzerland to Italy, and 3 in Italy) and 2 car days in Switzerland at this point.

So, I have looked at RailEurope and Euro Railways to determine the best course of action as far as travel and trying to keep costs down. RailEurope will not let me purchase or even look up the prices of exactly what I want! Each time I input my information, I get a message that my request is not available. I am trying to find the price they offer for the Eurail Select Pass n Drive for 3 countries. I enter the information it asks for, and can't get a price. The timetable that pops up to check train schedules does not work either. I tried emailing to ask for advice on what to get and the costs and was directed back to their non functioning website!
I got so frustrated I went to Euro Railways.
On Euro Railways, I have been able to check ALL train schedules to map out our journey, check prices for all options I am considering for either just train or train and car, and they have sufficiently answered the email I sent with questions about night trains.

So, my question is.....I see that both these sites are supposedly much more expensive that other sites. I also see that they are not highly thought of and you don't seem to get very good seats.
What is the BEST site to get our rail passes from? Are there other sites that offer some type of rail n drive pass, or a mulitcountry pass?
Jennifer_Scutari is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 10:42 AM
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Have you tried you itinerary at Railsaver.com? You can toggle back and forth between rail pass versus best schedule versus best price.
ellenem is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 10:51 AM
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I've never heard of Euro Railways. You need to check the actual train companies of Switzerland and Italy. Use the Swiss train website - www.sbb.ch for the Swiss prices. The Italian train company is Trenitalia. To look up prices on their website you need to enter a day within the next 7 days.

Bern/Sapri is a very long time on a train. I would look at flights. There are many budget airlines in Europe.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 1st, 2011, 11:09 AM
  #5  
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Thanks ellenem. I just checked out the site. It chooses the same option all the other sites have given me: 3 country 5 day rail pass. The price is higher than both Euro Railways, and RailEurope. I don't see how to look at best schedules versus best prices unless you mean to check that information on another site.
Jennifer_Scutari is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 12:13 PM
  #6  
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kybourbon: I am going to look into airfare as well, though it appears that is an entire day on a plane from 9am-5pm. The plan to was to take an overnight Italian train from Milan to Sapri, so we aren't wasting an entire daytime traveling.
I have already looked up all the trains and times on the Trenitalia website, and as long as the Eurail Select Pass we buy applies to the trains I am trying to get on, then all I really need is the best place to buy the Eurail pass from.
Jennifer_Scutari is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 12:22 PM
  #7  
 
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Next to the name of the first passenger, it says "Always railpasses". If you click on this you'll get "If more convenient" and "If less expensive".

I'm not saying Railsaver offers the best prices, but it does offer a way to get an idea about these different ticketing options at the same time.

Chances are you will have to pay extra fees above and beyond your pass price for seat reservations and sleeping accommodations on trains in Italy.
ellenem is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 12:25 PM
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Well if a Eurail Select Pass is in the cards (and to me it seems of dubious value given your plans) then keep in mind if you buy a 6-day Eurail Select Pass or longer before sometime in March you get an extra day free - and remember the pass is first class so if comparing to 2nd class fares it is like comparing oranges to apples IMO.

But it seems you are simply not traveling enough - and yes the Eurail Select Pass applies on all trains but on night trains you do have to pay extra for any sleeping options other than regular seats. For great rail info I always highlight these fab IMO sites - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com. Where to buy a pass - prices are supposed to be universal, set by the Eurail Committe or some such European entity - but agents can put on mailing fees and handling costs so look for one that has none. I have bought passes for years from the budget europe folks who site I mention and can attest to great personal service on phone with all questions answered, etc. But again the pass is the same no matter where you buy it, etc. But if buying a Eurail Select the extra day free can beuseful, hop on it and perhaps use it somewhere in Switzerland in lieu of a car?
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 01:24 PM
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I doubt a pass is economical for your plans. The airport train in Rome is only covered if you buy 1st class passes (the train only costs 14€, doesn't have 1st or 2nd class and I can't imagine one pass day costs as little as 14€). It's probably cheaper for your family to book a private shuttle to the airport anyway. They tend to run about 45€ and would pick you up at your hotel. If you train, you have to get from your hotel to the station by some kind of transport (taxi?). Taxis to the airport from Rome center are a set fee of 45€ for 4 people including luggage so much cheaper than 4 train tickets.
http://www.romeshuttlelimousine.com/...t-transfer.php

Most trains in Italy require seat reservations and the cost of your pass does not include that. Only the slow R trains don't require seats. For you to book the overnight train from Milan to Sapri, you would have to pay an additional 122€ on top of the price of the pass (this would provide you with a 4 person couchette). For the return to Rome, you would have to pay 10€ each for seat reservations on the faster trains.

You also qualify for a family discount on trains in Italy if you are traveling with at least one child under 12.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 1st, 2011, 02:00 PM
  #10  
 
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I too doubt that a pass will be any benefit to you. Your cost for the passes would be $1312 (3 5-day passes at $389 plus one at half price for the 11-year-old). Then you have to add the cots of seat reservations and the night train beds.

Instead of a pass, do this in Switzerland: buy a Junion Card (30 CHF) for each child. They will travel for free with you on your tickets. Zurich airport to Bern is 52 CHF in second class.

You can get advance-purchase tickets from Zurich to Milan on the Swiss rail website (www.sbb.ch). Righ tnow they are 25 CHF instead of the regular fare of 86 CHF (2d class). The children will be 14 CHF as their Junior Card does not cover the part inItaly. Total for the family to travel from Zurich to Milan with these tickets is 78CHF.

Then for Italy, use the family discount that kybourbon mentions.
enzian is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 05:09 AM
  #11  
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Thank you ALL so much! This has been so helpful, and I think you are all saving me a TON of money I will check out all these sites, and probably forgo the Eurail pass then.
Jennifer_Scutari is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 06:19 AM
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The airport train in Rome is only covered if you buy 1st class passes (the train only costs 14€, doesn't have 1st or 2nd class and I can't imagine one pass day costs as little as 14€).>

Well extra days on the Italy Railpass can be about $20 a day or about 14 euros.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 06:36 AM
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So, I have looked up all the fares for the trains I'd like to take, and it seems that the cost of all my train trips add up to approximately $800. Much better than the $1300-$1500 for a Eurail select pass, plus that included any reservations or fees which the Eurail pass does not.

Next question...I can't actually search for fares in July, as it gives me an error message, so I searched fares in March on the specific days I would be traveling in July. Example: our first trip will be on a Monday from Zurich to Bern. Then Friday from Bern to Milan. So, I searched a Monday in March from Zurich to Bern at the scheduled time we plan to travel to see what the fare is.

Are the summer fares much more expensive due to tourism being higher at that time, or will the fares be the same?

Also, does anyone know how soon I could purchase these point-to-point tickets for travel in July? I don't see any email on the Swiss or Italian train sites to ask this question. There is a phone number, but I'd have to make an expensive international call to ask this question.
Jennifer_Scutari is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 06:56 AM
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The train fares in Italy do not fluctuate based on the season. The fares you see now will be the same, unless there is a entire fare restructuring.

I think the Italian system updates twice a year, so you may not be able to see actual schedules and book tickets for your trip until after the mid-June update. PalenQ's links provided above may have the information you seek.
ellenem is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 07:50 AM
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Ditto PalenQ's recommendation for contacting http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/. Call and talk with Byron or Linda. They are experts and very helpful. If you haven't used trains in Europe before http://tinyurl.com/eym5b provides an illustrated intro, but no prices.
spaarne is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 08:12 AM
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I purchased our discount Zurich to Milan tickets on the Swiss rail site (rail.ch) 60 days in advance of the travel date. You can buy them later but the number of tickets is limited and they do sell out.

You may have problems with a May purchase for July, for the reason ellenem mentioned---the rail scheduled throughout Europe are updated in min-June and you cannot always see schedules for dates after that ahead of time. Italy is notoriously late in loading their schedules into the websites. I would start checking for those discount tickets 2 months ahead, but if they don't show up jus tkeep checking back.

Most people, at least in the US) have trouble buying tickets on the Trenitalia website (apparently it is a problem with American credit cards) but you can wait until you arrive and buy all your tickets then. The exception would be that night train. You'll want to have those reservations in advance as the night trains sell out.

Hopefully someone will have a suggetion for the best way to get that night train reservation.
enzian is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 09:49 AM
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>>>>Well extra days on the Italy Railpass can be about $20 a day or about 14 euros.<<<

What website are you finding a Eurail Select Pass n Drive for 3 countries for only 14€ per day?

Trenitalia can only be booked four months in advance. As Ellen said, they update mid-June for summer, but prices/schedules will not change much at all. You might find the night train from Milan listed before mid-June so keep checking once you get within the four month purchase window.

I'm not sure of the purchasing time limits on the Swiss rail site, but the 25chf discount tickets can't be bought more than few months in advance and I think and must be purchased at least two weeks in advance. I had to select the station I would be picking up my tickets also.

On Trenitalia, you must register on the website first. There is also a limit on amount of purchases per month (1000€) and perhaps a lesser amount for first time purchasers.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 11:47 AM
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>>>>Well extra days on the Italy Railpass can be about $20 a day or about 14 euros.<<<

What website are you finding a Eurail Select Pass n Drive for 3 countries for only 14€ per day>
Note bourbon I said Italy Railpass - I miscontrued your 'railpass' to be generic - any railpass. The OP IMO should also investigate the much cheaper Italy Railpass - good in Italy only as he/she is taking some pretty long train trips.

As always I strongly encourage going first class on Italian trains - IME of decades of Italian train riding I can attest to there being a lot of difference - well worth the extra expense IMO and the Eurail Italy Pass is a much better deal in first class compared to ordinary first class tickets - I have not checked the OP's trips for this but I think OP should, esp if going first class. IMO folks who say there is little difference between classes simply have not ridden in first class, with fewer seats per same car width, lot more room to leisurely stow your luggage, at times gratis on-board snacks (not sure of current status but I have always gotten a coffee and roll in first class on Eurostar type trains. Zillions of Italians pay the extra to ride first class and they are not nuts, as some would have it, to do so IMO.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 05:35 AM
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So, I have looked up all the fares for the trains I'd like to take, and it seems that the cost of all my train trips add up to approximately $800. Much better than the $1300-$1500 for a Eurail select pass, plus that included any reservations or fees which the Eurail pass does not.>

But are you comparing 2nd class fares to the 1st class pass? If so you are comparing apples to oranges - there are IME of decades of rail travel in Italy a world of difference between 1st and 2nd class - and this is not to say that 2nd class is not adequate just that for the trip of a lifetime 1st class is usually much less hectic and more relaxed - seats much biggers - usually some empty seats to put luggage on rather than competing for space in overhead luggage racks in 2nd class, etc. I am not saying the Select Pass is the answer but it is first class so I would compare it to first class tickets. It's like you can eat perfectly well at McDonalds but have a nicer dining experience in a better restaurant. Apply IMO the same critria to rail travel. And I do wholeheartedly believe that those who say there is little difference between classes on trains simply have not travld in first class or they would not say that. There is some reason zillions of Italians daily fork over the extra money to travel in style in first class.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2011, 09:12 AM
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Most people, at least in the US) have trouble buying tickets on the Trenitalia website (apparently it is a problem with American credit cards) but you can wait until you arrive and buy all your tickets then. The exception would be that night train.>

kybourbon says that it is now easy to book thru trenitalia.com and that the credit card snafu has been solved and many Fodorite posts have attested to that (I have missed those posts but bourbon usually knows of what she/he speaks (except when IMO it comes to first vs second class!)

So give trenitalia.com a try and it could save you money over buying once there.

And please report back on how easy or difficult it was!
PalenQ is offline  

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