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Trains & Railpasses: Is Eurailing worth it?
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Trains & Railpasses: Is Eurailing worth it?

by Chris on June 24, 2003

by Chris | June 24th, 2003

“Don't get me started on Eurail, you might lose some custom, but it is a bit of a con to pay and then virtually have to reserve every damn seat you sit on for extra big money.”

Ouch. After all, we sell these through BootsnAll. They help keep the lights on. But I see his point: Are rail passes worth it?

Eurailing is something where I see loads of extremes. “It's a ripoff!” is followed by someone else's “it rocked my trip!” For me, getting ready to go on my own trip, it's a little confusing. The quote up-top I just received yesterday, in an email from Neville Millen. He just got back to Australia from a 2-month trip to Europe, so he knows what he’s talking about.

Now, Neville also says later that

we were a bit disappointed to have to book extra reservations at $11 Euro each seat to get on the rapid trains which we mostly needed for a 2 month stay and on long hauls. I think it is till good value in the pass, but many
other hard – bitten travellers are not so sure any more. Certainly some rail staff need to lift their game to make this a pleasant experience.

That does rather reek of pain in the arse.

At the same time, what’s the balance of learning and knowing, doing your research and all that (which Neville did)? The better you understand what you want to do with, where and on your trip, then the better you can evaluate transportation options. The better you understand transportation options, the better you understand how to use them to accomplish what you want to do during your trip. Right?

That’s what, to my mind, is a pretty common-sense hunch. Neville though, has just had the real experience. All my ramblings until Aug 1 are theory, not practice, and my be for naught but learning what doesn’t work and isn’t so. Research and what you see in books and on websites, may well fall apart once you’re in the thick of the actual experience.

So: Is Eurailing worth it?

The Europe rail passes are touted as a great thing. That’s what the lads and I have espoused, certainly. And we’ve heard loads of great things. To-date, I want to say that I’ve heard more good than bad. But what is the real skinny?

To my mind, I still think they’re worth it, especially for a trip like mine. And there are a lot of pluses to traveling with a railpass, but I’m curious about what can make them not be worthwhile for someone.

What do you think? To railpass, or not to railpass?

{ 1 comment }

Joe E June 27, 2003 at 8:48 am

I think that Student Rail passes are worthwhile, I think that Eurail Flexi-passes are worthwhile, but I don’t think that a straight Eurailpass is worth it at all.

Partying with friends on an all-night train across countries is great fun, especially if you have a bottle of something to share.

Having taken more trains in Europe than most Europeans ever do, I will caution folks to choose wisely. Even riding on European trains get old after awhile.

However, nothing is worse than a Eurolines bus from country to country. Avoid the Eurolines bus pass, and don’t ask me how I learned this.

Having done pretty much everything the wrong way, I now suggest that travelers use a combination of travel methods and do NOT get tied down to any one system.

There will be times when a short flight may make sense, other times when joining up with some other backpackers in an old Ford Transport van works better.


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