Eurail travel

Feb 19th, 2013, 01:01 AM
  #1  
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Eurail travel

We are two Aussies heading to Europe for the first time. Not backpackers, much older i.e. 70 and 58 years of age. We are looking to book a Eurail Global 30 day continuous pass to do as many countries as possible without going overboard. As this will be the one and only time we will ever get to Europe we obviously want to make the most of it. Looking at maybe six or seven countries over the 30 days.
Questions: Any suggestions of the don't miss countries or cities?
Certainly not rich but also no need to do the backpacker thing - at my age couldn't anyway.
Looking to stay as much as possible in Private accommodation which can be pre-booked.
Will be starting out from Milan, Italy and will not be looking to do any more of Italy.
With the train travel for end of May and nearly all of June, should we reserve seats before we go? Have intentions of travelling 1st class on the trains or is that not worth it. Remember our age!!!
Have travelled quite a lot in Asia but never in Europe.
Any suggestions would be appreciated and thanks in advance.
grayday is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 02:27 AM
  #2  
 
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Passes don't always represent the value they purport to. Generally speaking the more you travel the more you pay off the cost of the pass - but they're not that cheap - something like €400-500 euros apiece for several days travel within a month.

Again, in general, passes are good if you are travelling on national networks, which means local and therefore slower trains, however many of the high-speed services across Spain, France, Italy etc you'll need to pay a reservation as an extra. Ditto international cross border trains - and I imagine you'll be taking some of those.

The main thing you'll need to look into is whether the connections you plan to make are included in the price of your pass. For example, if you've never been to Europe, I'd definitely recommend London and Paris - and the Eurostar which takes you from the UK to France is not exactly covered in your pass - passholder fares are more expensive than booking an adult ticket in advance (but certainly not on the day!).

Of course, passes give you a little more flexibility with travel plans, because you can hop on and off regional trains. Although, IME many local services are so cheap that really, you can still have a little spontaneity on the cheap without forward planning.

So my advice would be to settle on an itinerary first as soon as possible, and then look into the cost of point to point tickets as opposed to the cost of a railpass with reservations. If you travel to 6 countries you'll take at least 5-6 trains I imagine. Last time I travelled, it made more sense to book single tickets in advance and leave a little space in my schedule for an impulsive day trip here or there.

Hope that makes sense. Just don't go and buy the Eurail pass until you know your plans and whether it will be cost effective or not. Another piece of advice, the cheapest point to point tickets will be available 90-120 days in advance, so travel for May-June is just now open for booking.

Happy railing!
Loco2com is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 04:48 AM
  #3  
 
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<< As this will be the one and only time we will ever get to Europe we obviously want to make the most of it. >>

I agree with making the most of your trip but it appears that may mean spending much of your precious time in train stations and getting to and from those train stations.

Please be realistic with your plans and do give yourselves enough time to experience your trip.

I would not choose Milan as the representative city in Italy. At least see Venice if you will only visit one Italian town. It's about 3 hours from Milan on the train and a truly magical place.

<< Looking at maybe six or seven countries over the 30 days. >>

Rather than see six or seven countries, focus on spectacular cities/sights rather than a broad country view.

Continuous rail passes may not be practical as you won't be traveling every day. Look at the pricing for a pass that allows traveling X number of days within a month. And do check the pricing of point to point tickets as that may be less expensive than the pass, particularly because you will be able to travel 2nd class. I would make seat arrangements.

<< Have intentions of travelling 1st class on the trains or is that not worth it. Remember our age!!! >>

There is little difference in comfort between 1st class and 2nd class. If you are on a budget this is the place to economize.

Some of my favorite cities:

Paris, Bruges, Krakow, Prague. I would recommend some time in Austria and do try to see some smaller towns and some magnificent countryside.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 05:13 AM
  #4  
 
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The main differences between First and Second are usually those of space. The rail cars in First will usually have fewer seats that will see more seats in the same amount of space in Second Class.

Some regional trains in some countries don't even have First Class sections.

Are you at all considering using trains for overnight services?

Have you considered using budget airlines being aware of their luggage restrictions?

Good sites for budget airlines ar www.whichbudget.com and www.skyscanner.net
Dukey1 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 03:00 PM
  #5  
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Thanks for your replies and suggestions. As far as Italy is concerned, we do fly into Venice where we will be spending 3 days before boarding a Med. cruise and eventually we disembark in Genoa where we will then catch a train to Milan for onward rail travel the next morning which may well be to Paris which will be the start of our 30 days rail.
We are not going to the UK at all, just continental Europe.
We are not really interested in cheap flights would rather do the train thing and see some of the countryside. We would not travel overnight as to me it defeats the purpose of seeing the countryside. It might save overnight accommodation costs but we had to weigh one up against the other.
If we book a rail pass i.e. 30 day Global continuous pass as opposed to a 15 days in the month Global pass, there is only about AUD$60 difference so would rather have the 30 days up our sleeve even though we would not be travelling every day.
Looking at staying 3 or 4 days in Major cities. Example - Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and flying out of Zurich. All in the planning yet. Would take day side trips from those major cities more than likely to closeby cities. Airline ticket already booked for our flight over and back.
grayday is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 03:13 PM
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It sounds as though you have already made up your minds that the pass is the best way to go.
cathies is online now  
Feb 19th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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I don't understand the point of this post.

You've determined that you'll buy train passes (Eurail was the post heading) so no advice needed there.

"Have intentions of travelling 1st class on the trains or is that not worth it." Train passes are only first class unless you're under 26 so why ask if first class is worthwhile when you'll be traveling that way. No advice needed here.

You say: "Will be starting out from Milan, Italy and will not be looking to do any more of Italy" but then state you're spending 3 days in Venice. I don't understand the Milan statement at all.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 04:26 PM
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with two months of train travel a railpass of some type is a no-brainer IMO - like the Eurail Flexipass good for X number of unlimited travel days to be used anytime over a 2-month period. for wide-ranging seemingly open-ended train travel that pass can be a great deal - a Saverpass is two or more names on one pass.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 19th, 2013, 05:15 PM
  #9  
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My post was to get some maybe differing opinions and take into account what I read. I have already had a couple of differing opinions from people personally but not on this forum.
Cathies: Yes, leaning toward the pass as it is getting into the high season in Europe and I thought it would be a safer bet that way along with seat reservations on longer trips in particular.
Adrienne: As I said, after Venice we have a cruise which ends in Genoa. From what I can see it is much easier to get inter country connections from Milan than Genoa and that is why I make the statement the 30 day pass (should we get it) will actually start from Milan. If we were living in Europe then our understanding would be much better but coming from Australia it's a long way for things to go wrong.
PalenQ: We have a company called Rail Plus who we can go through for all overseas rail travel and that is where I am looking to for all the pass types etc. and yes, I am looking at the two names on the one pass.
Anyway, thanks all for your input, it is much appreciated as it's a long way and I am trying to glean as much info as possible before committing to the Rail.
grayday is offline  
Feb 20th, 2013, 07:13 AM
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I thought it would be a safer bet that way along with seat reservations on longer trips in particular>

In first class as the pass would be if over 25 yrs old you will almost always find ample empty seats IME of decades of riding trains with passes - that is in the majority of countries that still allow you to hop on and off at will. But since seat reservations just cost a few euros you may want to do that if you find trains more crowded than I suspect they will be - making reservations means often waiting in a longish queue at ticket windows too - I would just wing it and see if what I have experienced is true - I have never ever made an optional seat reservation with a pass and have never ever not found a seat.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 20th, 2013, 07:38 AM
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France requires seat reservations on the faster trains. And there's a limit on the number of pass reservations. So you should get these as soon as you know when you're traveling. You don't need to go to a train station; Paris, in particular, has SNCF boutiques in-city where you can do your train business.

A good resource for train travel is the Man in Seat 61: www.seat61.com.

I'm not sure when you're traveling. In high season, it's best to reserve hotels ahead of time. Out of high-season you can travel more at your whim.

But be sure to pack light. You'll be lugging your bags onto the train and off, lifting them overhead, and likely up and down flights of stairs. Whereas a cruise calls for a bigger wardrobe. Maybe after the cruise, ship home part of your baggage?
Mimar is offline  
Feb 20th, 2013, 11:09 AM
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But be sure to pack light. You'll be lugging your bags onto the train and off, lifting them overhead, and likely up and down flights of stairs>

sage advice - IMO packing light is imperative to enjoying rail travel for the reasons Mimar gives and IME have your heaviest bag have wheels - wheels can climb stairs and go down too - I like the backpakcs that can be converted into a wheeled thing but also in a form you can carry on your back when you want a proper backpack.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 21st, 2013, 10:42 PM
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Have you ever considered renting a car, bought a GPS in Berlin ( about 90 Euro.)
We ( we are Canadians in our mid 60) did it last September, driving from Berlin to Krakow, Prague, Budapest Vienna, salzburg is easy with GPS, and then took a Swiss pass 10 days in Switzerland (then it was 2 for the price of 1). Swiss pass covers all trains, trams, boats and buses.
From Brig in Switzerland take a train to Lake Como.
David47 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2013, 01:51 PM
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Swiss Passes have had 2 for 1 sales every year now it seems for travel in mid to late fall and mid to late spring but only on selected passes, not across the board. check www.budgeteuropetravel.com or www.ricksteves.com or www.raileiurope.com for details of the 2 for 1 dates if you are pondering traveling during those time periods.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2013, 03:21 PM
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Hi PalenQ,

My wife and I is planning to tour Italy next spring, which way is better, Rail pass or Renting car? and how many days do we need?
David47 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2013, 03:52 PM
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Grayday,

Welcome to Fodor's. For a newbie on the trains of Europe the web page http://tinyurl.com/eym5b is a general illustrated introduction.

I would never make seat reservations unless they are required. They are normally required on premium high speed trains connecting the major cities. Most trains do not require a reservation. Just get in and grab a couple of seats. Travel season in Europe doesn't get underway until mid July. There are very few leisure travelers in May and June. You should be able to get hotel discounts everywhere.
spaarne is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:39 PM
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Dear Grayday,

I still like driving in Europe, It gives me the flexibilities to stop and go wherever and whenever, plus I do not have to drag my luggage along from cities to cities.
It works out a little more, but I am in control.
David47 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2013, 08:03 AM
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David47, why don't you start your own thread? Click on "Start a new topic" in yellow on the upper left on this page.

BTW, cars are not good in cities. Trains take you city center to city center.
Mimar is offline  
Feb 24th, 2013, 09:54 AM
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Not to mention that in Italy if you drive into a city center you're going to be caught on camera and sent a whopping fine.
StCirq is offline  
Feb 25th, 2013, 06:34 AM
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Hi PalenQ,

My wife and I is planning to tour Italy next spring, which way is better, Rail pass or Renting car? and how many days do we need?>

where are you going - how many times taking the train and whether or not you want first class travel factor into saying if a railpass is a good deal or not and despite the Fodor mantra that railpasses are always a rip-off that just ain't so but you do, obviously have to be taking more than a few trains.

and yes if going mainly to cities then take the train as cars yes are banned from many city centers and must be parked in expensive parking lots that are often remote from the city center.

And yes check out these sites for lots on Italian trains - www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id12.html.

If taking only a few Italian train trips then you may want to check www.trenitalia.com for online discounts - if you are willing to lock yourself into a certain train at a certain time weeks in advance as discounted tickets are sold in limited numbers.
PalenQ is offline  

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