How does Eurorail work? Help Please!

Old Feb 3rd, 2004, 02:31 PM
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How does Eurorail work? Help Please!

Hi all...I'm hoping to backpack thru Europe at the end of March for about a month. I am not sure how the whole eurail works. I am looking to buy the eurail pass youth but I don't think I'll need to do the whole month pass because I'm going to be staying in Paris for a little over a week. I was thinking about doing the 15 or 21 day pass. Can anybody tell me how this works? What does the 15 day and 21 day mean? Does it mean that I can only travel within 15 or 21 days? Also, if I buy the select pass what does 10 days in 2 months mean?
lananhh3 is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2004, 02:49 PM
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As I guess you've already learned there are about a million alternatives for passes. First about your specific questions. Some passes are for consecutive days only 15 or 21 for example. That means if your two periods of travel are broken by a week of staying put, you lose. Other passes offer the option of say 15 days in two months which means just that -- any 15 days of travel spread out anytime over a two month period. These latter ones are often the better deal, because if you plan to remain a few days in each location, you're losing out paid travel days on a consecutive day type pass.

But first you need to have a plan. How many countries are you planning to visit. The fewer countries included in your pass, the cheaper. There are now many single or double country passes as well as 3 or 5 country passes. These will all be cheaper than the general Eurorail pass which covers the full 18 or so countries. Since you are basically traveling about three weeks total, I can't imagine you trying to cover the entire continent or more than a very few countries.

And most importantly -- how much train travel are you really going to do? Often you will come out better by simply buying individual tickets for the trips you are planning to take. Don't think that buying a pass is necessarily the cheapest way to go.

I'm assuming you've looked at which fully explains all the various passes and shows the costs. The cost of the passes will not vary by where you buy them, other than maybe getting free shipping or a free book from one source or another.
Patrick is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2004, 02:58 PM
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Hi. I will try to explain the whole Eurorail pass deal. Last May, my friends and I traveled all over Europe and we bought a Eurorail Pass.

Now, a lot of people will tell you that it is cheaper to buy the point to point tickets. I talked to several travelers along the way and they purchased their tickets seperate, rather than a pass. It depends on how much you'll be traveling. I made sure I used mine almost every day. If you don't, you'll probably be throwing your money out the door. If you don't travel much by train, buy your tickets point to point.

You can look at my previous train trips here:

Now, we bought our Eurorail pass through RailEurope ( I only have great things to say about them. They are very, very helpful. I had many questions and they answered them all. They then gave me serveral options, stating the best price. RailEurope also priced each ticket seperate to see if it would have been cheaper than buying a pass.

RailEurope's website is great. The train schedules are up to date. I got my schedules about a month before I left and each train schedule was right.

We bought the 21 day EuroRail Pass Youth. Here is all the info about the 21 day pass:

We got our passes stamped in Brussels. Your 21 days start the day you get it stamped. Then you can travel anywhere the pass says. Now, you have to get your EuroRail pass stamped by an offical stamp. In Brussels, we went to the information booth and they directed us to a ticket counter.

Now, trains like the Thalys and the Eurostar Italia, you have to reserve your seats in advance (each time we did, we had to pay an 8 euro fee). Now, on about any other train, you can travel on without any other fees. The staff will come by and you flash them your railpass. That's all.

Also, with the 21 day pass, we were able to get from Paris to the airport without paying for a ticket on the RER. We simply went up to the RER ticket counter, showed them our EuroRail pass, and they gave us a small RER pass at no charge.

We were very happy that we bought our Eurorail passes. RailEurope even ships them to your home before you leave.

My advice is to first right down all your questions. Go to the FAQ ( If your questions aren't answered there, then call RailEurope (1-877-257-2887), and ask all your questions. They'll be able to answer all your questions.

If you don't buy a pass, at least get a general idea of your train schedule ahead of time. It saves a lot of time becuase you won't have to look at a foreign train schedule at the station. Goodluck!
college_travelers is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2004, 04:18 PM
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I think that college_travelers give a balanced view, even though I believe that the travelers they met - - who had not purchased a rail pass - - spent less money, and had their travel needs met just as well, if not better.

I would add that a fairly worthwhile purchase, if you really plan to traipse around in a somewhat unstructured way - - would be a Thomas Cook european Rail Timetable. Search "forsyth" here on this forum for info on how/where to buy one.

A planned trip will mean greater opportunity to see more far-flung destinations, and spend less time/money doing it - - and will likely involve the cheap of the tons of dirt cheap new intra-Europe airfares. Seriously, you would not believe how many routes of 500, 800 miles or more you can fly for $ 1 or 2 (plus maybe 25 to 30 dollars in taxes). That was no typo. Fares of ONE or TWO euro on routes like Austria to England, Germany to Spain, and on and on.

Beats spending 1o-20 hours on a train for one long haul, and hundreds of dollars on a rail pass, in my estimation.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2004, 06:02 PM
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IT depends on the cost of each point to point ticket whether or not the pass works out better. Have one of the pro's work it out for you - that's what they're there for. As to flying being so much faster, well, how about all the time and money you spend getting back and forth from the airport, dealing with checking and picking up baggage, security, customs, boarding etc? It's up to you to compare and contrast types of travel, then consider what type of travel you would prefer.
jenneepoo is offline  
Old Feb 3rd, 2004, 06:14 PM
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<<As to flying being so much faster, well, how about all the time and money you spend getting back and forth from the airport, dealing with checking and picking up baggage, security, customs, boarding etc?>>

This seems like naysaying just to be negative, to me. My family of five spent under $140 - - TOTAL - - to go from hotel room, in Graz (Austria) to our bed and breakfast outside London (Stansted) on Ryanair in less than 6 hours. While there was indeed time involved in getting to/from airports (about two-thirds of the 5 hours), there was NO expense added whatsoever. We turned in our rental car in Graz, and started a new rental at Stansted.

Not pointing out options like this to a novice backpacker would be to withhold information that is unbelievably valuable.

In my opinion.
rex is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2004, 08:18 AM
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Hi lana

If you have some idea of what trains you will be using, enter your itinerary at They will tell you if you need a railpass if you click on "only if it saves me money".
ira is offline  
Old Feb 4th, 2004, 12:04 PM
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For what it's worth, we now read (on a follow-up post) that lananhh3 hopes to cover this giant polygon (in 16 days or less?) - - stretching from Spain to Paris and Amsterdam in the north and then Rome-Florence-Venice and the Greek islands in the south.

Oh yeah, she is going to need to do some flying all right!

Nothing about her plans says "rail pass" to me.

And lana... I realize that this sounds flip and critical of your first attempt (and you acknowledge that you are inexperienced at this) - - at planning a trip.

My cheeky attitude has a whole lot more to do with the posting by jenneepoo - -not your legitimate and entirely well-meaning question about how to travel around WITHIN Europe.
rex is offline  
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