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What is the point of buying a Eurail pass?

What is the point of buying a Eurail pass?

Old Jan 30th, 2006, 12:34 AM
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What is the point of buying a Eurail pass?

PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong, but after much research, I have come to the conclusion that a Eurail pass would be a gigantic waste of money for my 3 month trip to Europe.
After adding up the point to point fares for my known itinerary, the cost is slightly less than a Eurail pass. Yet, I have read that I can buy student discount cards in each country that will reduce the point to point ticket cost by 25-50 percent.
Also, with a Eurail, I would still have to stand in line to reserve a seat or pay for a sleeper, so the pass wouldnt save much time.
I plan on starting in Lisbon and continuing to Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, Austria, Czech & Slovak Republics, Slovenia, & Croatia.
I simply don't understand the point of buying a pass. Can someone please confirm or deny my suspicions?
Thanks
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 12:59 AM
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I've used various country passes and also a Eurail Pass.

I am not certain how you can say in your case it would be a "gigantic" waste of money when you also said that your own itinerary point-to-point fares cost slightly less than a pass.

When you are buying all those point to point tickets I assume you are going to use a machine and never have to stand in line.

Passes offer flexibility and you have been smart to realize that research, extensive research in some cases, reveals what most know already: passes become "economical" the more you use them and the farther you travel.

You haven't "missed anything" at all for this particular trip...you simply don;t need a pass. But others may benefit from them and often do.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 01:25 AM
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The only time a Eurail Pass seems to become economical is if you have sufficent 'long' trips in your schedule. You will 'waste' the Pass if you use it on trips where the point-to-point fare is 50 euros or less. The Pass may well diminish the need to queue because many trips do not require a reserved seat. However, I've never had to wait too long to get a ticket on the day. Several guidebooks advise that, in Spain, buses are the better means of transport, and that has been my experience, so, if you're going there, bear that in mind. In France and Germany, however, the train wins hands down.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 01:58 AM
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Hi

You may find this site useful - http://www.ricksteves.com/rail/rail_menu.htm.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 07:26 AM
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I think you have it right.

Waste or not, the purchase of a Eurailpass is a good way to get seduced into thinking that traveling around, inside a train... more... is seeing Europe more.

Travel around less, see where you are more.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 07:35 AM
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If you are a student, you can use the International Student Identification Card (ISIC) I think in each country, rather than having to buy a different one in each country. It should give you discounts for a number of places, but not sure how much for train travel. At $22, it's worth it. (You can Google it.)
 
Old Jan 30th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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Rex, people can have an extremely enjoyable vacation traveling around "inside a train". Just because you move from city to city (God forbid!)doesn't mean you automatically spend only a day or two in each place! Even if one chooses to move more frequently than you personally would like to do is not a bad thing! And believe it or not, some of us find train travel an enjoyable part of the experience.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 08:35 AM
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My comments are not about being anti-train,as much as anti-"moving around", to excess. If you go to Europe for 14 or 21 days, and... because you have a "rail pass"... you think "we will see more" because we will travel from A to B to C to D to E to F to G to H to J - - then I think you have fallen for the folly of the Eurailpass as the way to "see" Europe.

Far better to go from A to B to C by train, then... perhaps fly to D - - packing and unpacking four times instead of nine... and never spend even a small fraction of the cost of that "rail pass" on intra-Europe travel.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 09:24 AM
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I understand, but somepeople like that way of travel and some poeple do get a lot out of it. It's not your cup of tea, but may be great for others. That's all.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 09:39 AM
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Each itinerary is different. Sometimes a pass is the most cost effective option and sometimes buying point to point is. Sometimes it is a toss up. You have to evaluate it for each and every trip. For your trip, obviously, it is cheaper to buy point to point, but this is not always the case.

On my last trip, point to point 2nd class cost the same as a 1st class pass, so we went with a pass for added convienience (We never reserved seats, or rode on night trains, so we never waited in line) and the comfort and space in first class.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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I think Eurail passes are really expensive, but can work for some people who really are traveling a lot -- and, as someone else said, going on some of those expensive, high-speed trains a bit. They aren't if you are doing limited local travel most of the time.

I've bought country-specific passes and those aren't quite as expensive. At least the France railpass can make sense if you only have one major trip planned in a few days time frame. Now, for France, that is in comparison to regular on-site tickets, if you book way in advance and get nonrefundable PREMs, it wouldn't be so good a deal.

However, the advantage it the flexibility and it does save time. I've wasted hours waiting in lines at train stations getting tickets, and it really is nice to avoid all of that, just make a note of train times and hop on when you want. There are many trains that do not require reservations. YOu also don't have to plan to much in advance, and can be more spontaneous.

I don't know about your student discount card thing, so can't comment on that, but I guess I would say that if the cost of point-to-point fares on my known itinerary was really only "slightly" less than a railpass, I'd definitely buy the railpass for the convenience and flexibility. YOu would have to judge yourself how likely it is that you will want to travel by train more or less than the comparison you made.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 09:55 AM
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Oh, I should clarify, my pass was a "country specific" type, (Germany and Benelux) not the 3 month travel all you want type. I must admit that it would be a pretty busy itinerary to make one of those pay off!!

Have you looked at the "three country" select pass, or the European East pass? A combination of these MIGHT be cost effective for you. Go to www.railsaver.com and imput your itinerary, and be sure to check "only if it saves me money".
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 10:48 AM
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The times we were glad we had a Eurail Pass involved being able to make quick decisions to change plans. If you have months to travel or intend to follow a set itinerary, this may not be relevant. For example, when it continues to rain in Germany and Austria, you can get on the internet and check the weather, jump on a night train, and be in sunny Italy (or where ever) in the morning. Of course you can do that without a train pass, but we have found it considerably easier with.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 11:01 AM
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Hi dcschwartz, DH and I visited 13 different cities on a 14-day trip to Italy a couple of years ago. We never sat down and figured the cost differences but we felt the pass was perfect for us as we went to the FS in the morning, chose the first train going to our target town and ran (often) to the appropriate track! We often visited more than one town in a day and we just hopped off and on trains without ever going to the ticket office. This is the only scenario I can figure out your needing a pass. The other thing to consider is if you buy the pass in the Euro country, you can get a better price these days-a fair statement?
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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The point of buying a pass -- it all depends. I like using the pass. After comparing point-to-point tickets and, say, a Selectpass for 3 countries, if it comes out anywhere close to even for me, I'll go with the pass. It is so convenient to just get on the train. And the flexibility is great. In one instance, when we were to be on a 9AM train out of Paris to Trier and then to Treis-Karden on the Mosel River, -- but there was a rail strike in Paris and the only train in the station at 7AM was one leaving for Stuttgart in 2 minutes -- (and we had no idea whether there would even be a 9 o'clock train) -- well, we were able to hop on that one and go as far as Karlsruhe, hop another one to Mannheim, hop another one to Koblenz, and then another one to T-K. Worked really well!
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 11:21 AM
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Twenty years ago Eurail passes were a good deal. With all their present limitations and the advent of cheapo airlines like Ryanair and GermanWings, they are almost pointless. And for once, I agree with Rex!
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 11:27 AM
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"I simply don't understand the point of buying a pass."

1. Enter your itinerary at http://www.railsaver.com/railsaver.asp
2. Select "Only if passes will save me money"
3. Hit "click me to calculate"

If it tells you to buy only individual tickets, there's no point (for you). But it's quite possible that it will figure out some combination of single tickets and 1-(or multi-)country passes that is the cheapest way to go. And that's the point.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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Well, Zeus, if you really want to be "captured" inside a moving vehicle and not see anything much that is going by outside you've certainly hit on the correct mode. However, please don't bring along too much luggage and when those "cheapo" airlines start flying into Varenna, let us know about that, too.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 01:17 PM
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Thanks for everyone's help.
I have used the railsaver website and it advised me to only buy point to point passes.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 08:47 PM
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<< ...some people like that way of travel and some poeple do get a lot out of it...>>

I know you will think that I am just trying to get th last word, sandi_t... (and maybe I am)...

...but if you read what I said...

The folly is in thinking ... << we will "see" Europe more" by traveling "that way"...

Is it possible that some people might enjoy traveling "that way"? Sure. Some might. But the idea that that this is the way to "see Europe more" is just plain wrong, in my opinion.

And too often, there is the notion that step one is "buy the Eurailpass", followed by "now, let's think about where to go to use it".

And then rationalize, rationalize, rationalize... about how "oh, we enjoyed it so".

I call it saving face, for money unwisely spent.
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