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Eurailpass experiences for Mature Travellers?

Eurailpass experiences for Mature Travellers?

Old Oct 4th, 2006, 10:22 AM
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LJ
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Eurailpass experiences for Mature Travellers?

I picked this title carefully because my most recent Eurailpass experience is 30 years out of date. I was a university student at that ime and it was a terrific way for a first-timer to see England, Scotland, France, Switzerland and Germany-overnighting on Wagonlit/couchettes and going where the whim took us.

DH and I are noodling over the idea of a 30-or 60-day all country pass for our next jaunt. We have recent Italian and UK train experience that was very positive.We still like to travel light and are in good shape. But maybe this is romantic notion and unrealistic for a couple in their 50's.

So if you have had recent experiences of this kind of multi-country travel without a pre-set itinerary, could you share?
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 10:38 AM
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I like to refer questions like this to a superb free publication, The European Planning & Rail Guide (available at www.budgeteuropetravel.com) as it will explain thoroughly the European train system - maps, itineraries, etc. You may also want to look at www.ricksteves.com as his site has lots of independent rail travel, passes as well as a list of cheapo airlines and alternatives types of travel. though there is a 1- and 2 month consecutive pass which could be a bargain if traveling every other day or so investigate the newer Eurail Select Pass where you chose your own number of unlimited travel days over a two month period and can select the number of countries, up to 5 you want the pass to be valid in. Otherwise the benefits are the same as the classic Eurailpass which you had 30 years ago. You may want to go with the select pass and then use a few cheap airline links - details of cheap airlines serving any two cities: www.whichbudget.com

I've used about 100 railpasses since 1969 so if you have any questions i, and many other Fodorites who have proven to be rail savvy thru experience will surely answer them.

PalQ
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 10:54 AM
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We just bought a Select Saver Pass and got a free day with it. Don't know how long that will last. We leave next week.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 10:54 AM
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If you are going to use a pass for convenience there isn't much, if anything, which can top it IMO.

However, if COST is a major factor I would go to a site such as www.railsaver.com and do the pass-point-to-point ticket comparison befoire making any decisions.

As to cheap air fares, I would also recommend www.skyscanner.net as it seems to be more up to date than the whichbudget.com site. However, if the intra-European luggage restrictions are a deal-breaker you could stick to the rails.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:02 AM
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Hi LJ,

We are older than you (we're 69 and 72) and love taking the trains in Europe.

We had a railpass in Switzerland a few years ago, and it worked out beautifully. On our other trips, we just buy point-to-point tickets.

Later this month we are going to Amsterdam and Bruge and have a Benelux pass which we intend to enjoy.

Yes, packing light is a necessity for taking the trains!

Byrd



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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Eurail Select Early Bird Special gives an extra day on 6- 8- and 10-day Eurail Select passes bought before Dec. 31, 2006 - passes must be activated within six months of issue and then you have a two-month validity to use.

If pass prices increase as they often do Jan 1, 2007 then if you buy a pass at the 2006 rate you are guaranteed to use it at that price for six months - potential savings could be significant, especially with the free day angle.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:18 AM
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I had my first Eurorail experience last December at age 39. Just me and my backpack.

I visited the following cities: Amsterdam, Munich, Salzburg, Prague Hamburg, Cologne and a few small towns within a 14 period. I traveled by train and used two overnight trains for long hauls. I did not use a pass only Point to Point tickets. It was cheaper then a pass!

I met alot of people my age doing the same thing.

It was my own amazing race! I loved every minute of it. I am doing it again on Dec 12 for 23 days this time.

Three weeks ago I just did a overnight train from Nice to Paris and it was a great trip.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 11:21 AM
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The railpass question all comes down to how much you want to move around. As long as you are in reasonable shape, I don't see what your age would have to do with it.

That said, I like to travel at a slower pace for a pass would never pay off for me. I just buy point-to-point tickets at the train station when I'm ready to go.
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 09:34 AM
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Thank you all: PalQ for your detailed response (I will be following up) Dukie,Mollie, Suze and Lostmymind for your insights andenthusiasm and Byrd for sharing your personal perspective...I think this may be just the ticket for us.
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 12:21 PM
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A railpass is not as great a convenience as it used to be either. Several have mentioned that unless you are doing a great deal of major train travel the cost may not be worth it, but these days a lot of trains require reservations. If you have to make reservations, you might as well be buying the tickets at the same time. So having a rail pass doesn't always allow you to hop on a train on the spur of the moment like it used to.
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Old Oct 5th, 2006, 12:28 PM
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Might there be a particular season or time of year that would be especially better (or worse) with regard to not pre-booking hotels?
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Old Oct 6th, 2006, 06:37 AM
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Yes railpass has lost some of its usual selling point - impromptuly just hopping on trains - due to mandatory reservation and supplements. While there currently are only a few trains charging railpass holders supplements to use them (Italy - Eurostar and ICplus trains; Spain AVE and other similar high-speed lines; Thalys Paris/France to Belgium, Germany and Holland; London-Paris/Brussels Eurostar trains; Cisalpino Switzerland-Italy) these supplements are often about $10-15 but can be more in 1st class on some as they include a full meal (Thalys)

Some trains in France (TGV and CorailTEOZ), Sweden (X2000), Talgos in Spain, and some in Scandinavia require seat reservations that typically cost $3-4 in Europe.

If you buy a railpass be sure the agent sends you the free Eurail Timetable that lists hundreds of trains and indicated which ones require supplements/reservations and which don't. (You can get this Eurail Timetable free from BETS - 800-441-2387) for the price of postage, subject to supply.) The www.bahn.de German rail web site that is fantastic for train schedules all over Europe also indicated whether reservations are compulsory or not on each train you reference (click on details plus under the schedule that first pops up). A good way to reach the English language schedule page of the German site is to go to the BurdgetEuropeTravel site i reference in an above post and on the home page click on the link All European Railway Schedules (or some such nomenclature) and you will have the English schedule page pop up where you just put in say Paris and Interlaken and the date and you get all the trains for that time. the home page referenced also gives several tips for using the fine fine www.bahn.de site.
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