One of the most important (and often times, one of the most expensive) parts of traveling is the actual transportation to and from each destination. From a plane ticket out of your home country, to traveling within the city you are visiting, transportation is absolutely necessary. There are many ways to get from point A to point B — plane, train, bus, car, ferry and more — and the first step is simply knowing what is available. I plan on help your travel-planning by discussing a method of going from here to there every once in a while in my column. Today let’s talk about my absolute favourite thing I bought for my four month backpacking trip across Europe: The Eurail Pass.
Whether you are traveling within one country or across twenty different ones, there is a Eurail Pass to fulfill your needs. The train system in Europe is extensive, eco-friendly, comfortable (usually) and safe (again, usually). This pass allows you to quickly and easily board almost any train throughout the continent, often at no extra cost! The pass is good for all national and shipping railways and some private lines, but does not cover booking fees or surcharges (not applied to all tickets). The Eurail network encompasses approximately 225 000 miles of railway tracks served by over 50 000 trains across 26 different European countries. However, the Eurail Pass is so much more than just a train ticket; it entitles you to a range of other benefits, including discounts on buses, ferries, hotels and museums. With my pass, I was even able to take a 27-hour ferry from Italy to Greece for absolutely free!
You will pay off the price of your Eurail Pass ten times over if you plan ahead and order the proper pass before you leave home. It can only be bought by non-European residents, and is very easily purchased online. There are a few different options for your pass that you need to consider when planning:
This is a great option if you want to spend all of your time in one country. The passes are valid for only one month. Both the number of travel days (from three to ten days) and price (as low as $51CAD) vary by country.
This option combines two bordering countries and is ideal for travelling within this kind of area. The passes are valid for two months, you can specify the number of travel days you would like (from four to ten days) and the prices (as low as $176CAD) vary based on country.
With this flexible option, you can choose to travel three, four or five bordering countries. You can choose from five to ten travel days, and the price can be as low as $316CAD.
This option provides the opportunity to travel all 22 European countries with one pass. There are many options ranging all the way from ten travel days within two months, to three unlimited months (and everything in between). Prices start as low at $497CAD, and there is also a youth pass option that gives you approximately 35% off the adult price.
When you receive your Eurail Pass, you will also receive a Free Eurail Travel Pack. This pack includes a Eurail Timetable booklet, a large fold-out map of the accessible Europe rail system and a Eurail Traveler’s guide with handy information for using your pass. Trust me, don’t leave these things at home. The map, especially, is incredibly useful, even if it is just to track your trip across Europe to look back on earlier (I framed mine!). You can activate your pass within six months of purchase (this can be done at any train station in a participating country).
Get ready to ride the rails!
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” ~ Jack Kerouac