Eurail pass? huh? Whats the point?

Old Apr 25th, 2010, 08:28 PM
  #1  
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Eurail pass? huh? Whats the point?

So I originally thought a Eurail pass was a pass you payed $469 for and could jump on the more popular trains for free or for only $3-15 more and go anywhere. The trip is 18 days and I had planned on the 15 day Eurail pass. Below is the destinations I will be traveling.

USA -> Amsterdam

Amsterdam -> Brussels
Brussels -> Paris
Paris -> Rome (overnight train)
Rome -> Sarento
Sarento -> Rome
Rome -> Venice
Venice -> Tirano
Tirano taking small scene train -> Chur
Chur -> Amsterdam

Amsterdam -> USA

I've been trying to look up reservation fees or what trains im going to be taken or any useful pricing information about my trip and half of the info I find is inaccurate or doesnt make sense. Why is Amsterdam -> Brussels 28.40euro without Eurail. 38euro WITH Eurail. Huh?

Can someone please help me figure out how to get around europe? Should I get a eurail pass? Is there a website that helps me plan train trips with actual PRICES? I tried searching each individual trains website but according to info I got I will be paying $469 for Eurail pass and then about $600 more to use my Eurail on their trains for my trip.
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Old Apr 25th, 2010, 08:48 PM
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Now you know what most people don't take so many train trips in only 15 days unless they are conductors and why most no longer buy a rail pass... they stopped being a bargain a number of years ago.
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Old Apr 25th, 2010, 08:52 PM
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Hey - are you friends with Jessiedeexx?
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Old Apr 25th, 2010, 08:53 PM
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ParisAmsterdam: Good tip! Thanks....
Woyzeck: jessiedeexx is on the same trip.
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Old Apr 25th, 2010, 09:13 PM
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You've probably come across this, but Rick Steves actually has a very good primer on the Eurail pass which is up to date:

http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/usepass.htm

Keep in mind that reservations are not always mandatory, so you could wing it for some of your legs, or just purchase on the spot if you really want a reserved seat. I have no idea about the extra fees.
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Old Apr 25th, 2010, 11:52 PM
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Amsterdam -> Brussels -- You can do this for approximately 25 Euros, with an advance purchase ticket.
Brussels -> Paris - 25 Euros for advance purchase
Paris -> Rome (overnight train) - not sure, but I'd fly.
Rome -> Sarento - (Sorrento, I think you mean?) - cheap, no need for a pass
Sarento -> Rome - ditto
Rome -> Venice - Buy an Amici fare in advance
Venice -> Tirano - Not sure if any advance tickets are available, but probably not that expensive
Tirano taking small scene train -> Chur - can't advise here
Chur -> Amsterdam - can't advise here, but I'd look for the nearest airport and fly

Particularly if you are willing to commit to an itinerary, rail passes are not helpful in general, particularly for this sort of itinerary.
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Old Apr 26th, 2010, 05:56 AM
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WillTravel: Where do I go to purchase the advance ticket purchases you mention?

Also what would the point of a rail pass be regardless of what works best for me? If I had a global rail pass, would those tickets purchases you mention become free or cost a lot less? I tried looking up info on it and I felt like the info I found was wrong because an example was...

one train w/ eurail pass was $40 euro
without/ eurail pass was $47

I know thats a discount, but I thought it was like a drastic discount that actually made spending the money on a eurail pass kind of worth it.

You mention booking flights, I'm wondering how it is for booking flights over there? Can I call and book them that morning at a reasonable rate or is it like the USA where if i try to book them within like 2 weeks of the flight, it cost 10x more in price? What happens if I miss a flight?
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Old May 5th, 2010, 08:00 AM
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"Also what would the point of a rail pass be regardless of what works best for me? "

We choose to buy First Class passes and generally opt for Flexipasses or Select Passes as they work better for us.

We make our reservations either online using the rail website of the country we are visiting or when we are in Europe but never with the RailEurope site as they add a hefty surcharge.

Many on Fodors do not see the point of using a pass. We like them for the complete flexibility they offer so for us it is a worthwhile investment. We do not have to book far in advance to get the best fares and can change our plans for day trips and such based on the weather that day or our mood.

We only make reservations in advance on busy routes, busy dates or when we when we have a firm travel plan.

When we fly the low cost carriers in Europe, it has been my experience that the cheapest fares are not available close to the date of travel.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 11:00 AM
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Many trains require mandatory seat reservations which a pass does not include. You can't ride these trains without the seat or you will be fined. It also doesn't include sleeping arrangements on overnight trains (can run as much as 125€ with a pass), most scenic trains, many private train lines or commuter lines.

There are many budget airlines in Europe, but the cheapest tickets usually sell out early. You can sometimes fly from Paris Orly to Rome on Easy Jet for as little as 25€.

www.whichbudget.com

>>>Rome -> Venice - Buy an Amici fare in advance
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Old May 5th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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What you need to do IMo is speak to somneone who pretty much does rail travel exclusively and can compare the costs of point to point tickets vs using a pass in your partoicular case.

That "small train" you are planning on taking from Tirano to Chur is the Bernina Express and a pass can save you plenty on that portion alone especially if you are planning to use the panorama cars to travel in.

Many of the trains on your itinerary do NOT require any sort of mandatory seat reservations although if you use the Italian Eurostar service between Rome-Venice those tickets come WITH that mandatory seat reservation included but using a pass you'll have to pay for the res.

I would call Budget Europe Travel Service and ask for Byron..thetre is no obligation and he can answer ALL your questions...he also has acces to the most up to date schedules AND fares...800-441-9413

Now, as to using one of those "solves every single traveler's problems" budget flights...they cvan be great BUT please bear in mind and factor in the costs of the possible charges for baggage if there are any and the baggage weight restrictions; the time it will take to get to the airport, go through security, etc. the time and possible costs of getting to and from the airport.

I would agree that flying between Paris and Italy is probably a better idea but bear in mind thse other factors.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:05 PM
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As no-one has mentioned it, I thought I'd better - www.seat61.com
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:28 PM
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>>>That "small train" you are planning on taking from Tirano to Chur is the Bernina Express and a pass can save you plenty on that portion alone especially if you are planning to use the panorama cars to travel in.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 01:34 PM
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Eurailpasses are valid 100% on the Bernina Pass railway, Tirano, Italy to Chur but if you take the official Bernina Express that runs the route a few times a day then you do have to pay about 8-10 Swiss Francs reservation fee - but you can ride the hourly regular trains that go over the same route and same scenery without any extra charges.

Eurailpasses valid in Switzerland will take you the whole way Tirano to Chur without any needed extra charge - and of course onto Amsterdam if Germany and Holland are part of your pass.

Swiss Passes also cover the whole route 100% with the same extra few franc reservation fee if you want to take the official Bernina Express.

And to me the Bernina Pass rail route is one of the very top scenic railways in all of Europe.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 01:37 PM
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and I'll mention it again http://www.seat61.com
The place to go for train info
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Old May 6th, 2010, 11:01 AM
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I agree www.seat61.com has lots of great info - i always spotlight it too for folks planning European rail trips and asking questions like the OP - two other sites that are info-laden and not just the usual listing of railpass prices and an Add to Cart option: www.ricksteves.com (recommended by Woyzcek) and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - on this one download their free and excellent IMO European Planning & Rail Guide.
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Old May 6th, 2010, 01:19 PM
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If OP was not going from Tirano via Chur to Amsterdam in one fell swoop a railpass would probably not be the most cost-efficient way but if they are and want to hop any train along the way - at least three changes if in the day i'd think - then those full fare tickets may cost well over $200

the alternative is to pay as they went until Zurich and then have a online discounted fare from Zurich to Amsterdam from www.bahn.de - the German rail site - if they offer discounts for such a trajectory.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 09:39 AM
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There is also an overnight CNL or CityNightLiner train beween Zurich and Amsterdam - again scour www.bahn.de or www.sbb.ch for online discounts - if only full fare is available then the railpass again could come into play - but with a pass, which pays for the train fare, you have to pay for optional extra sleeping accommodations - from a few euro for a reclining chair to about $40 or so for a place in a couchette and much more for a private double.
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Old May 7th, 2010, 12:09 PM
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bahn.de shows train fare Zurich to Amsterdam at 119 euro or about $160-70 p.p. - Add on fare from Tirano, Italy and it would be well over $200

bahn.de said that 119 euro was the lowest fare available for the date i checked but play around and see if the dates you want may have a better offer

but if you cannot find one then $220 or so for one day's train ride may make a railpass more advantageous - plus you can just hop any train on all segments - the discounted tickets are train specific and not changeable nor refundable.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 07:55 AM
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I have checked later dates and if you book some weeks in advance there are 29-39 euro fares for Zurich to Amsterdam in the day - but non-changeable non-refundable so it depends if you just want to show up in Zurich and hop the next train or not as a pass would allow you.
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 11:14 PM
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Palenque,

My fellow travelers and I have 3 country Eurail passes that we plan to use for Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, but there is one small section of Austria we must pass through for which we will need to purchase a ticket. I feel sure we must purchase this in advance (maybe at the train station in Garmisch), but would you know if we can purchase a border-to-border ticket, or must I find out the exact towns on the borders (Germ/Austria and Austria/Italy)?
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