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Eurailpass vs. air for three-four weeks across Europe?

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Mar 22nd, 2013, 08:37 AM
  #1
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Eurailpass vs. air for three-four weeks across Europe?

My 23 yr old and another young woman plan to spend most of May travelling between Galway and Amsterdam, maybe Belgium, maybe Germany, Vienna, Croatia, maybe Greece, then end in Lecce in southern Italy.

They're staying in hostels and crashing on couches, and economy will be a big factor, followed ideally by flexibility. (I would insert personal safety into the mix, unobtrusively, and bear a thought for the environment.)

She wonders whether a Eurailpass would be better, or low cost airlines.

My sense is that getting air tickets now for a few of the longest hauls, then point to point rail tickets might be best. Opinions?.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 08:54 AM
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If she does her homework and takes advantage of the many now-available incredibly cheap point-to-point tickets that can be purchased 90-120 days head of time directly from various countries' national websites and maybe springs for an occasional low-budget plane ride, she should make out better than with any rail pass. But she will need to stick to her plans and know when she plans to travel from A to B. What you pay RailEurope the exorbitant fees for is being able to wing it and not make plans.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:08 AM
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Thanks, StCirq!
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:14 AM
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As usual, SC is right on.

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Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:16 AM
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She wonders whether a Eurailpass would be better, or low cost airlines>

check the total cost of flying - all charges, airport transfers, etc plus if you only fly they do not see the real Europe - the land and towns in between the huge tourist meccas - seeing mainly airport tarmcs, terminals and big mobbed tourist cities.

And I would not say a railpass is likely not to be a good deal - they have not outlined nearly enough of actual travels for anyone to make that snap judgment with the info provided. Discounted tickets are not always available in every country as some may think and you lose any flexibility - with a railpass you can hop on any train anytime - full flexibility in every country except Italy, France and Spain where you must pay a few euros extra for the mandated seat reservation fee.

So whether they want to literally spend hours sometimes tracking down the at times elusive ballyhooed discount fares - which are sold usually in very limited numbers and thus to guarantee must be booked in concrete (no refunds no changes usually) months before the actual trip - if plans change you're out.

And I know having been that age traveling like that around Europe you will likely meet other young folks from all over the world and conversations may cause them to change plans or they may meet others who are going to Rome and join them, etc. At least this was my experience at that age - you will meet lots of younger folk from all over the world traveling with Youthpasses on trains - overnight trains can really be like a corm party it seems - folks bring their own food and wine or whatever on board and talk and have fun.

If under 26 the Global Eurail Youthpass lets you hop on virtually any train in most countries at will and with the 10-day version the per day price may even be as low as or better than a string of discounted tickets and provide again complete flexibility.

Hoping overnight trains that zigzag across Europe also save on the cost of overnight lodging.

Anyway for loads of great info on European trains and passes check out these IMO fantastic sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com (download their free and superb IMO online European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of suggested rail itineraries; www.seat61.com (great info on online discounted tickets and www.ricksteves.com.

And yes the Fodorgarch mantra is that railpassess are never-ever-never-ever.. a good deal - yet that IMO is often said naively or casually without really know much about various passes and per day costs vs individual ticket costs.

And having a Eurail Youthpass gets you 50% off a BritRail Youthpass, making traveling around the UK very cheap and again often not only cheaper than online discounts but provides complete flexibility to hop any train anytime.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:17 AM
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Hi, ira. Nice to see your affirming light bulb on one of my posts.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:19 AM
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Cool. Thanks, Pal. (fodorgarch, ha!)
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:21 AM
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Oh, and the reason the destinations sound vague is because they still are. This particular daughter inherited indecisiveness from her mama.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 09:54 AM
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I agree with StCirq about the discounted tickets.

The choices should not be only between a rail pass and flying as there are other options such as discounted point-to-point tickets or buses.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Thanks, adrienne!

That would definitely make the most sense for most of us, or for members of the same family, but part of the difficulty is one of the two(relatively impecunious) friends would need to take charge, jump on it and make decisions, and buy tickets for both of them. My daughter's living in France now, and her friend is in Minnesota. I'll send her a link to this thread so she can see what makes most sense for them.

Really appreciate all of our help in clarifying the issues.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 10:08 AM
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I mean your help, of course!
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 11:07 AM
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Why Eurail pass or budget air? Why not BUDGET TRAIN?

Galway to Dublin from €11, www.irishrail.ie

Dublin to London for €46 with a 'SailRail' combined ferry+train ticket, http://www.irishferries.com/ie/sailrail.asp (you collect tickets at the Irish ferries desk in Dublin Port. Best service, 08:05 luxury cruise ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, train from Holyhead arrives London Euston in central London at 16:38, after a lovely scenic journey along the North Wales coastline)

London to Amsterdam overnight by Dutch Flyer, www.seat61.com? Netherlands.htm, departs London 19:32, you sleep on the luxury superferry 21:00-07:45 with private cabin with shower, toilet, satellite TV and free WiFi, then train on to Amsterdam arrives 09:48. Combined train & ferry ticket £45 per person, plus £30 for a single cabin or £43 per cabin for a 2-berth.

Amsterdam to Brussels or Bruges, www.b-europe.com

Amsterdam to Germany www.bahn.de/en from €19

Amsterdam to Paris from €35 at www.b-europe.com

Direct sleeper from Amsterdam to Prague or Copenhagen or Munich or Zurich from €59 with couchette, www.bahn.de/en
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 11:12 AM
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Nice, Man_61.

That makes me want to go do it myself. Very helpful links. Thank you!
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 12:45 PM
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Oh, and the reason the destinations sound vague is because they still are. This particular daughter inherited indecisiveness from her mama.>

Well then scratch just about every one of Man in Seat 61's touted discount tickets - you'd have to be booking now or before now to get many of them - well put in dates for May now and see - those tickets may no longer be an option. And note the 'from' - lowest cost tickets are sold in really limited numbers and even then compare it to a day on a Eurail Youthpass and they may be all told about the same - check Eurailpass prices at Man in Seat 61's commercial site - www.seat61.com - click on his commercial link to RailEurope and if booking passes do it thru his link and give him a well-earned commission from RE!
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Now don't you all start or I'll log off and cry.

I appreciate all of your informed opinions, which mine aren't in this case.
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 01:35 PM
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A 15-Day Eurail Youthpass - any 15 unlimited travel days over a 2-month period costs $802 or about $54/day or about 39 euros a day and you can chose what trains to take once there -you'd be lucky to get an average of 39 euros for any online discounts at this late date.
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Mar 23rd, 2013, 07:39 AM
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The youth pass does make sense for flexibility and the close date of their travels but $802 is a huge chunk of money for young people when economy is a factor. If they're couch surfing to save money they may not have the money to buy a pass. I think when they see the $s they will need to be flexible they may come up with a set plan.

They should be aware that the more they move around and the farther they travel the more money will be needed. Perhaps focus on the less expensive countries such as Greece and Croatia (although Croatia is not one of my favorite places). They can take a boat from Greece to Italy (Bari, I think) and be near their final destination.

Stoke - tell them to get copies of the Let's Go guides (available at libraries for the person in the US) for budget travel. These guides list various transportation methods and lots of ways to travel cheaply. I do think buses are the cheapest way to get places.

Also check the Thorntree forum of Lonely Planet which is geared to young travelers and backpackers/couchsurfers.

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/index.jspa
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Mar 23rd, 2013, 08:10 AM
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Agree with the Lonely Planet Thorntree suggestion as it's more that type of traveler.

Keep in mind that a pass doesn't cover some of their travel and has supplements you have to pay on any overnight trains, most trains in Italy, etc. Here's a list of supplements/fees:

http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/pdfs/reservations.pdf

For Italy, you can often book in advance on Trenitalia and get tickets for 9€ (includes seat reservation) on the fast trains. A seat reservation (mandatory) with a railpass will cost them 10€. Your 15 day pass would cost you $54 (cost of a day of youth pass) plus $13 (10€ seat fee). So you would pay $67 for train ride you could buy in advance for 9€. Walk-up fare is about 43€ or $55 (fast train Rome/Florence or Florence/Venice). Still cheaper than a day on the pass.

A pass is not as flexible as claimed if you want an overnight train. You need to book in advance or it can be fully booked. In Greece and Croatia, buses are more useful as rail lines are very limited.

You've listed 8 countries in only 3 weeks. They need to cut that list back a bit. The more they move around, the more the trip will cost. They also should know that the better hostels are booked in advance.
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Mar 23rd, 2013, 09:26 AM
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Excellent information. Thanks so much, adrienne and kybourbon.

I think this might be the kickstart they need to solidify their planning. Really appreciate all of your comments.
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Mar 23rd, 2013, 09:43 AM
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YVW
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