Eurail Global Pass Review

Today is a special guest post from my sister who recently traveled to Europe. She doesn’t have a blog herself but really wanted to share her experience with her Eurail pass as it is often a highly debated topic when it comes to traveling Europe. So, was the pass worth it? Check out Leslie’s post below to find out!

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My name is Leslie. I am a 26 year old PhD student living in Vancouver, Canada. After finishing my Master’s degree in September I was left with a 3 month break before starting my PhD the following January. An extended backpacking trip had always been a dream of mine and I wanted to take advantage of this free time before delving into more academics. I had never been to Europe before this trip and I was determined to see as much as I could of both Western and Eastern Europe in the 2.5 month time frame that I allotted for myself. Because I had so many countries on my to do list, I wanted travel that was flexible, comfortable, safe, and economical. For these reasons, I considered travel by train to be the best option.

The Trip

I looked into the various available rail passes and I immediately saw that the Eurail Global Pass was probably the pass for me. I was skeptical that I would save money using the pass. I turned 26 a month before my trip so I got stuck having to purchase the 1st class Adult rail pass, which is almost €240 more (!!!) than the 2nd class Youth pass. Although I think this is a silly rule, I chose this rail pass because I was traveling solo and am not a seasoned traveler. Additionally, the Eurail Global Pass had good reviews by other travel bloggers (linked below) and travel agents (Travel Cuts).

For the 11 weeks I was in Europe I visited 14 countries. For the first 3 weeks of my trip I traveled without the rail pass because I was visiting remote areas of Norway (I traveled by plane) and the UK (the Eurail Global Pass is not valid in the UK).

Here are all of the countries I visited while in Europe

Here are all of the cities I visited while in Europe

The Math

The table below includes my expense calculations in euros to reflect the cost of bookings and reservation fees made at the time of travel. 1st and 2nd class ticket price comparisons were based on quotes provided by ticket vendors during booking or online on rail company websites. I chose to compare both 1st and 2nd class ticket prices to see if the 1st class adult pass is the best option for adult backpackers who want to save money.

My Rail Pass: Eurail Global Pass, Valid for 10 days of travel in 2 months. 1st class Adult Pass = €668.00 (€66.80 per trip)

Eurail Cost Benefit Analysis

Eurail Cost Benefit Analysis- all costs in euros

Was the pass worth it? Short answer- yes!!

  • Cost: You can see the math above- the pass was worth it! I saved money using a 1st class Adult Eurail Global Pass compared to regular priced 1st and 2nd class trips. Although the pass was a lot of money up front I saved money overall. If you have the benefit of paying a lump sump for a train pass before you leave than I think it is worth it if you plan to travel primarily by train.
  • Comfort: As I mentioned above, I was skeptical of the global pass, but I think this was the best choice I could have made for my trip because I was covering a large distance and many countries in both Western and Eastern Europe. Additionally I was backpacking for over two months and found train travel to be extremely comfortable for short and long distance trips. I had no problems traveling by train- trains were efficient, safe, on time, and comfortable. Additionally because I was traveling during the low season in the Fall/Winter, I never found myself without a seat and trains were never crowded. While traveling by train I met great people (even some backpackers who I traveled in other cities with!), they had delicious food, and traveling by 1st class was very comfortable!
  • Flexibility: I went to Europe without a schedule and sometimes I made travel plans the night before I left on a morning train to another city. Because I did not have a concrete schedule the rail pass provided flexibility and freedom. I was also very ignorant about travel in Europe; I had no idea how trains worked, what the major rail companies were, how traveling by bus compared, general safety, etc. I kept reading many travel blogs about Europe that said “Don’t worry- it’s easy!”. And it really is easy (!!) but this pass provided me with peace of mind while backpacking solo.
Flam, Norway

Train station in Flam, Norway

What would I do differently?

Although I saved money overall using the Eurail Global Pass there are a few things I would have done differently to save a few more bucks.

  • Opt for bus travel in Eastern Europe instead of trains: Train routes are not as advanced in parts of Eastern Europe as they are in Western Europe. Train routes tend to take much longer. For example, the night train I took from Krakow to Budapest was 11 hours but when I spoke to a guy in my hostel he told me that the Eurolines bus he was taking was only a 3 hour trip. Not only are the trips faster, bus companies such as Student AgencyOrangeways, and Eurolines list cheaper ticket prices on their websites. Although buses in Europe are sometimes listed as cheaper on company websites, last minute bus tickets may be expensive and potentially exceed the cost of a train ticket. Last minute bus ticket purchases may also be difficult during high tourist seasons (i.e. during summer months).
  • Opt for bus instead of train travel in France: SNCF (France) Trains, specifically Thayls (THA) trains, have very high reservation fees. When I traveled from France to Amsterdam I opted to pay second class reservation fees because the first class fees were extremely expensive (€60 for 1st class travel between Paris and Brussels). Instead of paying the higher reservation costs, I opted to take the high speed train to Brussels and then took the cheaper (slower) local trains (i.e. Eurocity (EC), or Intercity Express (ICE) trains) between Brussels and Amsterdam. According to Lonely Planet, inter-regional bus travel in France appears to be limited however Eurolines does include some destinations in France. Eurail lists additional information on their website about the types of trains that run for various rail companies and provides information on reservation fees.
  • Use the pass for long distance travel: Each day of the Global Eurrail is for 24 hours of travel. This means that you may take a night train starting shortly after 7pm, arrive at your destination the next morning and still have until 7pm to travel by train. The more time in a day you spend on a train, the more money you are saving because you are traveling much farther distances! For example, You can see that for trip #4 in my cost-benefit table I saved a ton of money traveling from Hamburg to Prague (about €100!) on my rail pass because it was a 8-9 hour train ride.
    There were certain trips that I took where I didn’t think of the distance between cities. For example, for trip # 6 I traveled from Budapest to Vienna which is a relatively inexpensive trip without the pass (€72 1st class, €48 2nd class) because it is only 3 hours. In hindsight I may have taken a bus or paid for a 2nd class ticket so I could have used the pass in countries with more expensive trains. Also while I was in Vienna I took a day trip to Bratislava. Because the train trip is only one hour it costs €14 for a return ticket it would have been a huge waste of money to use my rail pass for that trip!
  • Eurail Global Pass is not valid for travel in Poland: I only noticed when I started my travels that the Global Eurail Pass did not include travel within Poland. I was upset when I saw this because I really wanted to go to Krakow. Determined to use the pass and still make it to Krakow, I was told by Czech Railways that I could pay the difference (€9.40) for travel between Zebrzydowice and Krakow. Unfortunately, I spent more money doing this using my Eurail Pass than I did if I had bought the train ticket without the pass. In hindsight, I would have used my Eurail Pass for an additional trip within Western Europe where trains are more expensive instead of using it for that Prague to Krakow trip. Although I spent more money, I definitely do not regret traveling to Krakow. I had an amazing time and it was one of my favourite cities. If you plan to travel extensively in Poland you may want to consider a one-country rail pass!
  • Use the pass for more trips within Italy and Switzerland: Trains in Switzerland are expensive and also in Italy where high speed trains run between major cities. Additionally very few buses run within Italy and Switzerland making train use unavoidable. For travel in Switzerland, keep in mind that train routes within the alps are not included on the Eurail Global Pass (i.e. trains from Interlakken Oost to Swiss alp destinations). For extended travel in one country, you may opt for a One Country Pass with Eurail. If I could do my trip again I would spend more time in Italy. I would definitely consider the global pass in addition to the Italy Eurail pass. Some one-country Eurail passes also provide 2nd class passes to adults (26+). Switzerland has a separate rail pass called the Swisspass.
  • If I were to do things differently I may have opted for the Eurail Select Pass for 3 to 5 countries. Countries that I would have chosen for this pass would have included Western European countries (i.e. Netherlands, Germany, Swizterland, Italy). However on Select passes the price per trip (e.g. 5 days within two months) still exceed the price per trip on the Global pass, but the Select pass may be a better option if you are spending a longer period of time in these places (> 6 days per destination).

Other Helpful Eurail Pass Reviews. There are other reviews online that may help determine which Rail Pass is right for you!

Should YOU buy a Global Eurail Pass?

It really depends on the type of trip you are going to take. Are you traveling all over Europe or just focusing your trip on one particular country or region? Think about the type of trip you want to take. It may make sense to mix up bus and train travel, or choose a railpass for only one or a select few countries. If you are under 26 years of age I think that most definitely the Global Eurail pass is worth it! Take advantage of the reduced price while you can!!

Do your research- read travel blogs, look at the inclusions and restrictions on rail pass websites, and talk to travel agents.

Good luck and Happy Travels,

Leslie

From Prague to Down Under | AIESEC Memorial

Beth Saunders:

Check out part 2 of my AIESEC Memorial travel diary

Originally posted on AIESEC Memorial | Blog:

Beth outside of the Kampa Museum in Prague

Beth outside of the Kampa Museum in Prague

Why Prague?

I chose Prague because it sounded like the perfect place to study abroad- a unique culture, the opportunity to learn a new language, and you really can’t beat the exchange rate. I had always heard great things about Prague and it exceeded every expectations I had.

The thought of leaving everyone you love to go to an unfamiliar place whose first language isn’t the same as yours with people you don’t know or trust is scary. Yes. I’ll admit that. But with uncomfortable comes new experiences, learning, and usually a damn good story.

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How a Break Up Led Me to Travel | AIESEC Memorial

Beth Saunders:

Check out my blog post for AIESEC Memorial about how a breakup led me to travel

Originally posted on AIESEC Memorial | Blog:

Beth at Levanto, Italy

Beth at Levanto, Italy

Dear Diary,

Travel has taught me to be spontaneous, to not limit myself, and that the world has much bigger things to see than we let ourselves believe. I really do agree with the saying that the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.

I am not a seasoned traveler, or one with very much experience; but I am an enthusiast beginning my journey who is inspired by inspiring others.

“The world has much bigger things to see than we let ourselves believe”

If you were to ask any of my close friends and family about the person I was two years ago, even a year ago, they will tell you that I have changed quite drastically. I’m still the Beth that loves sewing, cuddling something fuzzy when I’m sad, and the one who often speaks without thinking; but…

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Australia’s Calling My Name

If you have been keeping up with the goings on in my life you will already know that I am currently competing against 9 other Canadians with CampusPerks to be the #1 Travel Guru with Tourism Australia to win a chance to travel blog in Australia this summer for 2.5 weeks. Although I have been putting a lot of time and energy into this I have been loving every minute of it.

Beth Saunders, Katie Malcolm, and Ashley Doiron promoting the 'Best Jobs in the World'

Beth Saunders, Katie Malcolm, and Ashley Doiron promoting the ‘Best Jobs in the World’

My job is to promote the campaign the ‘Best Jobs in the World‘ to students at Memorial University of Newfoundland, across Canada, as well as around the world. The ‘Best Jobs in the World’ are 6 different jobs in each of Australia’s states. They feature the best of the country- the breath-taking landscapes and scenery, unique nature and wildlife, great food and wine, enviable lifestyle and sense of fun which in turn represents Australia as an amazing place to work and play! Not only are these jobs absolutely AMAZING on their own, they even pay well! The jobs are 6 months long and are valued at $100,000! You get a salary of $50,000 and the other $50,000 is for accommodations and travel expenses. How do you apply?! It’s really easy! All you need to do is make a 30 second video explaining why you are the best person for the job and submit it by APRIL 9th! Ben Southall, the original ‘Best Job’ winner, has put together a great article with some tips on how to make your application stand out!

Katie Malcolm and Beth Saunders promoting the 'Best Jobs in the World' campaign at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) #GetTheBestJobs

Katie Malcolm and Beth Saunders promoting the ‘Best Jobs in the World’ campaign at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) #GetTheBestJobs

Katie Malcolm Promoting the 'Best Jobs in the World' campaign at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) #GetTheBestJob

Katie Malcolm Promoting the ‘Best Jobs in the World’ campaign at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) #GetTheBestJob

Do you need help with your video? If you are reading this and live in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada or know someone who does, you should pop out to the event I am having next week! On Wednesday April 3rd on the 3rd floor of the University Centre from 12:30-3:00pm I will be hosting an awesome event with free food and swag, some fun games, and most importantly, filming application videos (we have props you can use, too!!). Come out, tell your friends, and most importantly, HAVE FUN! Check out the Facebook event for details. You can also follow my Facebook page for updates on the competition, the jobs themselves, and any useful content I’m posting over the next two weeks. Hope to see you next Wednesday :). Feel free to tweet between now and April 7th using the #GetTheBestJob hashtag, I would love you forever! <3

'Best Jobs in the World' Event- Memorial University, 3rd floor University Centre April 3rd 12:30-3:00pm

‘Best Jobs in the World’ Event- Memorial University, 3rd floor University Centre April 3rd 12:30-3:00pm

To find out more about these awesome opportunities and how to apply visit Tourism Australia’s website.

Australia: The Best Jobs in the World

Australia: The Best Jobs in the World

Tourism Australia is offering 6 jobs in Australia’s 6 states valued at $100,000 for 6 months of work. You could be photographing and blogging about Melbourne’s nightlife or eating and drinking your way around the country, whatever fits your fancy. Check out their website for specifics about these awesome opportunities; you will NOT be disappointed!

The Best Jobs in the World: Australia

The Best Jobs in the World: Australia: http://bit.ly/15y7v32

All Expenses Paid Trip to Australia?!?!

I am currently in the running against 19 other Canadians for a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to Australia this summer from Campus Perks and Tourism Australia Best Jobs in the World! I am sososo excited about the possibility of this, it would be absolutely AMAZING if I got this, I can’t even explain!

The position (grand prize) itself sounds totally rad and with the addition of Australia in there it just blows my mind (position stated post explanation). I am currently in the 2nd round of the competition and need to get support through social media and on my submission. I need to track everything I am doing, who is liking and sharing, and how engaging my content is with my audience. Clearly this is awesome for me because I love social media hah. If (when) I place in the top 10 for the next round I then need to then host an event on campus to promote the Best Jobs in the World campaign with Tourism Australia. In this event I will need to get students to apply to these 6 different jobs with 30 second video applications. Depending on how successful this event is and my number of applicants it is then determined who will actually go to Australia.

So, what does the prize entail? Well, it’s an all expenses paid trip to Australia for 17 nights happening in June. During this trip I would be travelling around Australia as the travel blogger for Tourism Australia reporting on these 6 Best Jobs in the World. This would be SIIICK. I travel blogged while I was studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic last semester and I loved sharing my experiences with others. I love researching the places I want to travel to and blog posts have been so key in finding out necessary information. They are great for finding stuff to do off the beaten path and have a more personalized touch which is great.

I think this position is really well suited for me because it involves marketing, PR, social media, event planning and travel; all things I’m totally into! I’m graduating from my Bachelor of Commerce with a concentration in May and am still really uncertain of what I actually want to do. I think this would be an amazing first step and something I would be incredibly grateful for if I actually won! I could even reconnect with my Aussie friends I met in Prague, including my former roommate!

Support my Submission

Beth Saunders; Tourism Australia's next travel blogger!

Beth Saunders; Tourism Australia’s next travel blogger!

The Best Jobs in the World

Tourism Australia The Best Jobs in the World

Tourism Australia The Best Jobs in the World

The Reality of Scams in Prague

National Geographic offers a documentary series called Scam City which features scams from ten of the world’s most popular cities. “Ever had your pocket picked? Been ripped off by a taxi driver? Well, every year, hundreds of millions of tourists have their holidays ruined by conmen and scammers and often in the most glamorous cities on earth. Now Conor Woodman enters the underworld of petty crime and gets scammed…so you don’t have to”

I have just finished watching season 1, episode 2 which features scams in Prague, Czech Republic. I have just come back from an exchange here for three months and have personally witnessed a lot of these scams. There was nothing surprising on this documentary (well, I guess sort of the being threatened in a whore house and having to pay 500 euro), I have heard tell of every one of these scams even if I haven’t personally experienced it. Although this documentary is very real and Prague can be a sketchy place, this should not deter you from visiting this amazing city.  It will obviously talk about all of the scams because that’s what the show is about, it should the ratio/likelihood of this happening you should be considering yourself with. If you watch this documentary then this will bring you closer to not getting scammed because you will be aware of the realities and will watch yourself when put in similar situations.

Some tips:

  1. AAA taxi is a legit taxi service and will not rip you off. Make sure you have their number on hand in case you are ever in an emergency where you need a taxi. Also make sure you have the address written down for where you are staying in case of any language barriers
  2. If you are worried about taxis ripping you off then tack public transportation. Prague has very reliable transportation and offers trams, busses and a metro system. You can use the DPP site to plan your journey and see exactly where and when to catch the tram. The only downfall with this system is that you need to know the name of the stop you wish to get off at but this can be found by using Google Maps. If you Google the place you are going you can then look on the map to see which stops are in the area and base your journey off of that
  3. The Drunken Monkey has since closed down but it is a rip off of a pub crawl. We had a blast on this, it was my first real night in Prague, how could we not, but it was definitely not worth it! We could drink for “free” (i.e., after paying 500 czk just to go on the pubcrawl which would not cover the price of your beers and cover charges at the bars) in the first bar (The Drunken Monkey) but the beers were only 3.2%. The night we went on this pubcrawl was the first night of the alcohol prohibition so we were not able to drink any liquor so I cannot speak to the quality/availability of liquor VS beer
  4. Don’t buy drugs on the street. Just don’t. I know people who were ripped off both on quality and quantity. It’s all around stupid, if you REALLY need to get a fix, make friends with a local and get an insiders tip
  5. If you want to go to this Christmas Markets go to the ones at Náměstí Míru as opposed to Wenceslas Square. The prices are more reasonable and the items aren’t as touristy