I feel like most of the knowledge I’ve gained while traveling isn’t exactly applicable to anyone else. It’s been my own journey with my own experiences that may or may not help other travelers….UNTIL NOW! I’ve decided to write about the debate I had with myself whether to use the Eurail Global pass and the ensuing experience of purchase, unpleasent surprises, and returning of my EXPENSIVE Eurail Global pass.
Over the course of my time in the Netherlands, I was trying to figure out how I was going to get where I wanted to go on my grand EuroTour. It all became pretty overwhelming pretty quickly and the amount of money it would take just seemed enormus (i.e., most likely larger than my remaining budget). I had thought of the Eurail Pass system where you can purchase a certain amount of train travel days within a given period of time (either continuous or not). This seemed to be what I needed. I suppose I could have done a bit more online research to find out about other people’s experiences but I didn’t. My bad.
Jorgo assisted with the search for means of transportation and suggested I look at Interrail passes. The website looked basically the same, but the prices were significantly cheaper. I thought hmmm….what’s the catch. I couldn’t find the catch until I tried to purchase a comperable pass with Interrail. When I went to put in my nationality, the USA wasn’t an option. I noticed only European countries listed. Hmmmm, that’s the catch! You have to be a citizen in a European country to buy an Interrail pass.
I decided that the Global Pass with 15 travel days within two months would work with my original grand itinerary of Germany, Czech Republic (Prague), Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, and the UK. So, one evening, I decided to give it a go and bought this pass for 737Euros or ˜$913USD. Yea, I know. Youch!!! That’s a bite out of my remaining budget.
Moving on. Ok, pass purchased and now I have to make reservations within this Global pass so that I can actually get on trains. I started looking at train schedules and save a few tickets that I would like to request reservations for. During this process, I noticed (first major hiccup) in this reservations page that there is an 8-10Euro fee for each reservation requested (to be paid on top of the 737Euro I just paid! So, lets say 15 train tickets (for 15 travel days) times 8Euro per reservation is another 120 Euro or another approximately $150USD. Uhhh, NO!! Not Happening!
(Second major hiccup): Also in the reservations page, it says to complete your itinerary before requesting the reservations. I’m a very mobile traveler; my itinerary is not set in stone and I want to retain some flexibility.
(Third major hiccup): Eurail has to mail you physical paper tickets by registered mail to a physical address. Ummm, per the second major hiccup above, I’m a very mobile traveler, my itinerary is not set in stone. I am not in one single place for more than a week (maximum). With the type of traveling I am doing right now, I can’t possibly anticipate exactly where I will be and when and for how long in time to have paper tickets mailed somewhere.
Three strikes and you’re out! I decided to process a return request for this pass to get an 85% refund because it was just not going to work for me. Those three things should have been clearly spelled out before purchasing the tickets. Maybe I didn’t read the fine print, or maybe it wasn’t fine print until you purchased the pass. Hard to say. Hopefully this helps some travelers in the future!
So, what did I do? Well, somehow through my internet research and buying a ticket from Amsterdam to Betzdorf Germany, I came across the website called GoEuro (www.GoEuro.com). I bought one or two tickets using this website and then realized they have a very user-friendly app for mobile devices which you can use to search, purchase, and save your electronic tickets that you show to the train conductors. So, I now have the app on my phone, and have purchased train tickets from Amsterdam to Betzdorf (Germany) to Munich (Germany) to Salzburg (Austria) to Innsbruck (Austria) and a bus ticket from Innsbruck to Lake Garda (Italy). It is amazing! I love GoEuro.
So, I am keeping track of my transportation purchases/cost and will compare the costs and how many days traveled to see when and where the Eurail Pass might break even for a US citizen who knows their itinerary down to the date and time for the entire duration.
Until I finish my trip and can create that cost comparison, I would encourage any (US) traveler that wants flexibility in your travel plans to just use GoEuro and not waste money on Eurail.
Happy travels my friends!