European Rail Passes For Shoestring Budgets

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Europe’s modern rail network makes travel easy, comfortable, efficient and environmentally-friendly. Europe is packed with lovely must see places and I find the hop on, hop off method the best. If you travel Europe on a shoestring budget, and you want to see and experience as much as possible given your pocket thickness and the length of time available to you, you might want to take into consideration writing down a list of priorities and don´t waste time wondering off the beaten path unless that’s your priority. In managed to visit up to 3 towns in one day, as they were 1 hour or less far from each other and had only one or two sights of interest. I find this method extremely rewarding for when I’m looking back I can proudly say “been there, done that!”. I know I rushed the things a bit but at least I got an idea about the feelings each place stirred in me at the time and where I would love to go back in the future. I also got a backpack full of tips for traveling Europe with an Interrail Pass.

The European Rail Passes are specially designed for you to literally explore Europe by train.  Now there are supplements you have to pay from time to time, if you want to use the super fast French TGV or if you want to cross the channel to Great Britain or to cross the sea by ferry to Denmark for example. For all the local trains though you don´t have to pay an extra dime.

European Rail Passes advantages:
– a pass is cheaper than the sum of the one-way tickets for the same itinerary
– you don´t have to cue anymore in every train station and you don´t have to validate you pass before getting on the train
– the time pressure is gone, if you miss a train, there´s always another one coming usually in the next hour or so
– you don´t have to worry about the train connections
– you can change trains as often as you like as many time as you want

The European Rail Passes are divided in two categories: EuRail and InterRail. The main difference is that the EuRail Pass is for Non-European residents and InterRail Pass is for European residents or persons which stayed the last 6 or more months in Europe. The InterRail pass is not valid in the pass holder’s country of residence, meaning that once you start your journey your first stop must be outside of your country of residence.

There are up to one month Interail Passes and up to three months Eurail Passes but if you have time and money left in your pocket you can buy yourself another and another month of Europe until the only thing everyone will ever remember about you is that you are a full time traveller.

The InterRail Global Pass is valid in all of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Ireland, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Eurail Pass is valid in all the countries above except Bulgaria, Great Britain, Poland, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. (for updates better check the official page)

You can chose between a consecutive-day pass, a flexipass or a saverpass to suit your needs. Just remember that you travel on a budget and you want to make the most of your trip to Europe.

Consecutive-day passes: If you plan to travel nearly daily and cover a lot of ground, a consecutive-day pass is the right choice for you. You get unlimited train travel for the duration of the pass. If you have a 15-day pass, you can travel 15 consecutive days, taking trains many times each day. If you have a one-month pass, you can travel, for example, from June 10th through July 9th. But remember, more travel days on a pass equal cheaper costs per day.

Flexipass: If you like to linger for a few days in each place, a flexipass is the best choice. You have a certain number of travel days to use within a longer “window” of time (for example, any 10 days within a two-month period). You can sprinkle these travel days throughout your trip or use them all in a row. You can take as many separate trips as you like within each travel day. Flexipasses are cheaper than the Consecutive-day passes because they cover fewer days.

Saverpass: Designed to save money for groups, a Saverpass is a single ticket printed with all the names of two to five travelers. Members of each pair or group must order the same pass together and all must be present to validate the pass in Europe. Part of the group can use the pass while others stay in town or fly home early, but those sharing a pass cannot split and go different directions by train. If you are a group of four, you can give yourselves more flexibility by ordering a separate pass for each pair.

One pass is usually better than two. To cover a multiple-country trip, it’s usually cheaper to buy one Selectpass or Eurail Pass with lots of travel days than to buy several single-country passes with a few high-cost travel days per pass. If you decide to travel over a border (e.g., France to Germany) using separate France and Germany railpasses, then you will use up a day of each pass.

Being young is all about advantages. If you are under 25 years old on your first day of travel a Youth Pass will save you some money. Youth Passes are valid in second class and give a 35% discount on the first class fares. Young travelers who prefer to travel 1st class can buy an Adult Pass.

The range of prices is huge, depending on the number of countries and days you want to travel. Just to make an idea, the 1 month Interail pass for people under 26, 2nd class is 399€ and the one for adults 2nd class is 599€. Prices might change from one year to another so it is better to check the oficial InterRail/EuRail web page.

When you plan your holiday, it is better to take into consideration your personal objectives, goals and tastes. Be yourself or your holiday might turn into a fiasco. Choose wisely, be impulsive (in moderation) and most important of all, relax and have fun! I personally enjoyed it so much that I bought a second Interrail pass to explore Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

One Response

  1. European rail trip is really pleasant, all major stations are close to all attractive sites and you can explore easily tourist attractive places. I always prefer to travel around by train when I have been there.

    Best Regards,

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