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-   -   Europe 2012- train pass? (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/europe-2012-train-pass-914611/)

Sroelike Dec 11th, 2011 10:39 AM

Europe 2012- train pass?
 
My husband and I are planning a trip to visit past exchange students. We have tried to plan to see many of them and only stay at each for a couple of days at each stop. We will be passing through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and then Flying to Finland and back to the Netherlands. I am trying to figure out the train passes. If it makes the most sense to do the Europass or buy them as we go? We will make stops in all of the countries mentioned and will stop in Cologne and Hamburg in Germany.
This is our first trip to Europe. We have many connections but will be going from place to place on our own.
Thanks for any help you can give on this!!

qwovadis Dec 11th, 2011 10:48 AM

Congrats on your trip train pass issues are discussed here,generally if training 4 hours or so per day every pass day on slow trains folks tend to break even or make a little bit most do not. www.seat61.com These days I just book like a local point to point and save. If superbudget and going many
places www.eurolines.com pass can save working well for backpackers.

Happy Planning!

agent226 Dec 11th, 2011 05:03 PM

The train pass is a better deal for longer journeys. It will take a lot of work to plan out the best options. Good luck!

tomseeley Dec 12th, 2011 02:55 PM

agent226 is right it takes work but it's doable. I'm facing the same dilemma for a trip next April.

I made up a tentative point-to-point trip that covered the main places I know I want to be. Then I went to www.bahn.de, the Deutsche Bahn's super-excellent-available-in-English-most-best-train-website-known-to-travelers. I just put in each potential point-to-point trip and let it show me the range of fares I might have to pay, and I wrote it all down and did the math. Being an engineer, of course, I didn't exactly write it down; I put it into Excel instead and let the puter do the math. I looked at 2nd and 1st class point-to-point fares, I noted the high and low in each case where there was a range, and I tallied it all up. (One tip: if you're planning on traveling many months from now, and you enter actual dates when you'd take any particular trip, fares won't always show up even though train times will. If that happens, just fake a date sooner than about 90 days and that should get you the fares. Right now, that's all you need.)

I don't know how it'll work for you but for the trip I'm planning, it was a no brainer. I would pay nearly 3x for all the point-to-point tickets I'd use in a full month, compared with the one-month Eurailpass.

If you're going to be moving about a lot, it may still be worth a little brain cell work now, to figure out if it'd be a close call or, like it was for me, a no brainer!

If it's close, don't forget the flexibility and spontaneity a pass gives you, but don't forget, too, that in each case you often need specific seat reservations for specific trains, no matter how you buy the tickets for the trip. And that'll usually be on top of whatever fares deutsche bahn quotes AND on top of the cost of the pass.

tomseeley Dec 12th, 2011 03:00 PM

Sroelike,

Another point I'd like to add: For me, the trips that added up the most in the point-to-point total turned out to be in Scandinavia. The segments in places like Germany, Austria, or France didn't contribute nearly as much to the total. I see you're planning on being in Scandinavia also. So I would repeat my suggestion that you do a tentative A-B-C-D-wherever itinerary that you think comes reasonably close to what you will actually do, and check the fares as I've suggested. The parts in Scandinavia may surprise you if you decide to pay as you go!

ellenem Dec 12th, 2011 05:46 PM

Have you purchased you air tickets already? Is there some reason you must return to Netherlands at the end of the trip?

easytraveler Dec 12th, 2011 06:11 PM

What time of the year are you going?

How long do you plan to be in Europe - total?

Dukey1 Dec 13th, 2011 12:56 AM

One thing you need to do is LOOK AT A MAP when you are planning. It would be, for example, relatively easily to travel from the Netherlands to Cologne, to Hamburg, to Denmark, and on into Sweden entirely by rail; you would have to do a sort of reverse loop from Sweden to Norway but a lot of that depends on where IN Sweden you are traveling. And you are also including Finland.

Would you be willing to travel from Denmark to Norway FIRST; then travel into Sweden and Finland?

Depending on your LUGGAGE you might also look at the possibility of using budget airlines between some of these points (www.whichbudget.com and www.skyscanner.net)

Sroelike Dec 14th, 2011 08:34 AM

Thanks for all of the advise. It helps a lot!! We do have to head back to Amsterdam. We are flying on an earned flight that would only arrive and leave at the same place. Amsterdam is where we decided to start and end, so that is not changable. However the trip from Denmark to Norway is adjustable. I did look at the map and ASSUMED it would make the most sense to go to Sweden first. I will have to take another look. As neither of us has been to Europe before it is a guessing game. I was hoping my students from the past years would be helpful but it seems they really are not sure either!!
With the budget flights, is it best to book early or do they stay pretty consistant?
thanks so much for all of your advise!!

PalenQ Dec 14th, 2011 08:50 AM

For that much train travel some kind of Eurailpass IMO would be a good deal - from either a 5-country Eurail Select Pass valid in Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg as one country for pass purposes), Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This is a flexipass - you buy X number of days of unlimited rail travel in a calendar day to be used anytime over a 2-month period - thus the 'flexi' nature of the pass. Take the train between bases - sit there for a while and then relocated.

You could also look at the Global Eurail Pass for consecutive days if moving quickly in a shorter time frame.

The railpass give you in those countries complete flexibility to hop any train anytime and it is, if over 25 yrs old, only in first class and my decades of incessant rail travel in those countries makes me exhort folks to go first class - seats significantly larger, more empty seats - in deades of travel I have rarely not found empty seats in first class whilst 2nd class can be SRO at times - easier storage of luggage, etc.

So when comparing fares - keep in mind the pass is first class and all its many benefits.

Great sites for planning a European rail trip and about passes check out these fab IMO sites - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com. For schedules I always use the Wunderbar www.bahn.de or German Railways site that has schedules for trains all over Europe.

PalenQ Dec 14th, 2011 11:22 AM

flying to Finland from Sweden or Norway - Norway makes sense to fly but if you can do Sweden last then by all means take the wonderful overnight ferry from Stockholm to either Turku or Helsinki, Finland - this is one of the most dramatically scenic boat rides in the world IME - skirting a rocky coastline much of the way and the boats have the trappings of cruise ships - lots of things on board and you can get private compartments if you wish or with a railpass I think at free berth in a couchette-like cabin with others.

PalenQ Dec 23rd, 2011 11:35 AM

We do have to head back to Amsterdam.> I have taken the overnight train connection from Copenhagen to Amsterdam several times - so consider that option as well. railpasses cover the basic train fare but you do have to pay for the option types of sleeping berths, from multi-person couchettes to private compartments for singles, doubles or triples.

dfourh Dec 23rd, 2011 03:10 PM

>>>> www.bahn.de ... just fake a date sooner than about 90 days and that should get you the fares.

Not only that, but bahn.de offers some heavily discounted fares that start out cheap (90 days out) and then progressively sell out as you get closer to travel time. If you will buy (any) point-to-point on both domestic and international itineraries priced by the German railserver, then it is worth marking the calendar to snap them up as soon as they become available. (You can certainly mix a specific number of Europass days with cheap point-to-points, but it requires more planning and more math).

PalenQ Dec 24th, 2011 06:52 AM

Scanrailpass and cheap Copenhagen to Duisburg, Germany and Amsterdam ticket online at www.bahn.de could be the best combo or a pass and discounted ticket

Or consider the Eurail Select Pass good in Benelux, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden

Sroelike Jan 4th, 2012 05:53 PM

wow, a lot to think about but hopefully by planning early we will get it all figured out. You have all been very helpful and really gave me a lot of great help. Right now I am really thinking the overnight ferry to Finland sounds wonderful!! That is something I would not have thought to try!!


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