Recently my boyfriend and I embarked on a 7-month backpacking trip through Europe. The first 3-4 month’s we spent doing work in exchange for accommodation & food (www.workaway.info) which was a great way to bring down the spending costs whilst still being able to stay on the road.
After much deliberation we decided that we wanted a straight stint of just travel – it sounds like a dream come true, but this dream does come with responsibilities. The endless planning, budgeting and for those couples traveling together – how to not strangle each other to death.
One way to lessen the stress and organization needed was to purchase a Eurail Pass. We were in Valencia, after departing from the La Tomatina festival when we started contemplating this idea. It was a lot of money to be spending and we wanted to be sure. After chatting about what we wanted to see and do throughout Europe we decided the only pass for us would be the 3-month Eurail Global Continuous Pass.
In the end I closed my eyes and clicked purchase. As I am 25 and my boyfriend is 29 we had to opt for one youth pass (952 Euro) and one adult pass (1,464 EURO). That is a whopping grand total of 2,416 EURO. I actually think that it was the most expensive purchase of my life.
The process of ordering was very easy, I was given all the details to track the order so I knew exactly where the passes were at all times. As we were already on the road we simply got our hostel in Porto, Portugal to collect it for us. No worries at all. We held onto our passes until Munich. After drinking our way through Oktoberfest we began the Eurail journey on the 18th of September 2011 up to Berlin.
It has been a wild 3-months; we visited 37 cities, stayed in 16 different countries, traveled 12,328kms and now I can safely say that we know the European trains better than the locals themselves. You can’t put a price on all the things we have seen and done over the past 3-months however being the curious beaver that I am, I just had to know if we really got our 2,416 EURO worth with our Eurail passes. So what I did along the way was calculate every single journey… and drum roll please… here is the total amount it would of costs us WITHOUT the pass:
That is a 713 EURO difference, nearly enough to buy another youth pass! This is also not including the various free s-bahn rides we took in Munich, Berlin & Hamburg (this is an extra benefit of the pass) and also my boyfriend’s adult pass allowed him to travel first class but the fantastic travel buddy that he is, he spent his time in 2nd class with me the whole way. So I can safely say that if you are contemplating whether to fork out the cash for a Eurail pass or not it is well and truly worth it.
My Top Tips for Eurail Train Travel:
- Get an iPhone!! Not only is it your saviour for getting around each and every new place (thank-you google maps) but you can also download the FREE DB Navigator (app version of http://www.bahn.com). This app is a Europe wide train timetable. It can tell you what train you need to take, what trains you need and don’t need reservations for and it gives you a full timetable of your journey – all the stops/changes you will make and at what times.
- The most expensive countries for train travel are; Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium and France. If you are sticking to Eastern Europe or Italy I would strongly suggest doing your research, as train travel is pretty cheap as it is so a Eurail Pass may not be exactly worth it.
- Our regional train from Gothenburg to Oslo had free WIFI; we simply just had to make up a phone number to register.
- Food and drinks on board are a hefty price, so make sure you take a packed lunch and thermos with. The best deal we had was on the Oslo to Stockholm train where you get a free refill with every coffee you buy – it works out to be about 1 Euro per cup.
- There is always a way to sidestep having to go on trains with reservation costs – simply check on the DB-bahn website. Just check the box to search for ‘Trains Without ICE’.
- Lastly enjoy it, soak up the incredible European landscapes – it will be the trip of a lifetime
If you would like any further information or advice on the passes, the route we took or even budgeting – feel free to contact me by clicking on the contact button on the rightside of this page. I am happy to help.