Is an Eurail Pass worth it, or should you go point to point?
No matter what part of the world you are traveling, there is a big chance you can connect between cities by train. Trains are a good option to connect between different destinations when flying is either expensive or not effective according to your trip itinerary. In addition, train travel is a good opportunity to see the countryside.
United States, Europe, Asia, and even many African and South American countries have a good intercity and regional train system. From these, Europe stands out with its extremely efficient train network.
European countries have the famous Eurail Pass, which allows you to travel between different countries according to the Pass you decide to buy. Some of the Passes are:
- Global Pass continuous: travel as many days as you like for 15 days up to 3 months.
- Global Pass flexi: travel on 10 to 15 days of your choice within 2 months.
- Eurail Select Pass: select 3 to 5 bordering countries where you want to travel. Travel between 5 to 15 days of your own choice within a 2-month period.
- Eurail Regional: These passes let you choose on a selection of 25 regions, normally composed of two bordering countries.
- One Country Pass: Lets you explore a single country of your choice.
All the previous passes come in 1st class, 2nd class, and Youth 2nd Class.
But, are the passes really worth it?
The answer is: Buying an Eurail Pass can save you hundreds of dollars, but that same amount can be saved buying the tickets on a Point to Point basis. It all depends on your trip itinerary, length, and selection of trains. Here is a quick guide on deciding if buying an Eurail Pass is worth your money.
First of all, it’s good to know that many train routes require a reservation that cost from $8 to $30 dollars depending of the accommodation you choose (1st class, 2nd class, seat, 4 couchette compartment, 6 couchette compartment)
When it’s worth buying an Eurail Pass:
- When you plan on visiting various cities in various countries.
- When you plan on traveling an extensive amount of days or many consecutive days.
- When you desire to have flexibility on your travel dates.
- When you plan on traveling by sleeper trains. Which tend to be more expensive when you decide to have a couchette.
- When the routes you decide to take are expensive when you buy them Point to Point.
When it’s worth buying the tickets Point to Point:
- When your routes are on a super saver fare. These can be as low as 19 Euros on train routes between different countries.
- When you plan on traveling a small amount of cities with a specific schedule.
- When traveling with some restrictions is no problem for you. For example, a 2nd class “restricted” ticket means that you can only use that ticket for the specific train and time that you chose. But these tickets can be really cheap.
Based on my own experience, I’ve had the chance to travel with both, passes and point to point tickets. My selection on each occasion was directly based on the current price of each route and my itinerary. So, both options have to be analyzed at the moment you decide buying your train tickets.
Even though these sites are the leading sites for European train travel and make train selection so much easier because they arrange all your train tickets from all countries, it is recommended to go directly to each country’s train company website. You will find that prices are much cheaper because you are cutting the middleman. A really good source of information of European train travel is seat61.com.