The 16th marked the final day of my rail pass and while it wasn’t all smooth, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I had the 2 month continuous global Eurail pass. Pretty much it entitled me to hop on and off all the trains across Europe, with the exception of over night trains and Poland, Montenegro and Serbia. Now I definitely had my fair share of run ins with broken trains, being stranded, and delays but thanks to my pass and the app I could always see when the next train was coming and what my possible routes could be if I didn’t make the first train.
Let me start by saying that no, a rail pass is not for everyone. A lot of the time, if you plan far enough in advance and don’t have that many stops, you can find either cheap plane, bus or train tickets. Buying train tickets 3 months in advance will save you a decent amount of money. That being said, do you really want every second of your trip planned out? I changed my trip around four or five times since coming over to Europe and if I’d pre booked trains or flights, I’d be locked in. And I wouldn’t have seen all the amazing eastern countries that I ended up in.
The main problem I have with flying everywhere is the airports. The cheaper company’s fly from the airports outside the city. In places like Italy where the trains are never on time you run the risk of missing a flight or planning to be there four hours early so that you’re two hours early. And you then need to factor transportation costs to and from the airport, then to and from your hostel/hotel.
There are company’s like BusAbout where you can have a set route but take your time, meet a lot of people going the same places as you and not have to worry about finding a hostel. But with this company it’s all the big city’s. They don’t go to Hungary or Slovenia, you never leave that beaten path unless you buy additional bus or train tickets out of the town. I know a few people who have done it and loved it but again it’s not for me.
When I tell people I spent 800 euros for my pass they freak out. 1400$ Canadian? That’s the same as my plane ticket here and back for Vancouver. But I’ve visited 10 countries with this pass. I’ve made last minute decisions and hoped a trained, planned to catch one then changed my mind to sleep in a little longer after a night out. It really is your most flexible option without needing to plan. And it’s valid for youth up until you’re 26. So even if you just do a 3 week 10 uses trip around the east side of Europe I think it’s worth it. But I also think everyone should travel so maybe that’s just my opinion.
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