How to know if the Eurail or Interrail Travel Pass is right for you
With the prospect of travelling this Northern Hemisphere summer rising on the horizon, hopes of a dreamy European vacation may become a reality. Europe is a vacation hotspot for a reason. Dotted with fascinating history and heritage, mouth-watering cuisine, and chic cities and sights, a European vacation has something for everyone. The added benefit of traveling to Europe is how close everything is. Traveling on a Eurail Pass is one of the best ways to see everything on your list.
Why Travel Europe By Train?
Travelling through Europe by train is an easy way to reach every destination. Europe has an extensive rail system spanning through most of the EU member states. Taking a train also allows you to see the beautiful scenery of the European countryside as you pass through areas and cities you don’t have time to visit.
Travelling Europe by train is a very comfortable way to travel. Unlike bus / coach travel where you are required to sit in your seat while the bus / coach is in motion, on a train, you can get up and move through the carriages. And overnight trains have a sleeper carriage where you are able to book a bed.
Some travellers prefer to travel by train over night so they don’t have to pay for accommodation. The aim is to get some sleep on the train then get off in the morning and continue travelling.
Eurail or Interrail?
In short, Eurail Passes are for non-Europeans while Interrail Passes are for Europeans as well as for those persons residing in Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia – Hezegovina, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Vatican City. They both work the same, it just depends where you are from as to which one you should get.
What is Eurail / Interrail?
The Eurail / Interrail pass was designed to give travelers flexibility as they make their way through Europe. Because there are likely many destinations on your list in different countries, the Eurail pass makes it possible for you to reach them whenever you want.
Flexible access to most trains is the biggest perk of purchasing a Eurail pass. Traditional train tickets from point A to B are only good for that date, time, and route. The Eurail pass, however, offers more freedom. Rather than purchasing each journey individually, simply board with your pass whenever is convenient for you.
Types of Eurail / Interrail Passes
There are two types of Eurail / Interrail Passes. There is the Flexi Pass which entitles the holder to a specified number of travel days within a fixed period. For example, 7 days of travel within a period of one (1) month. This pass is great if you want to travel one day then spend a couple days in a certain place before moving on to your next destination.
Then there is the Continuous Pass offering travel daily within the period of validity of the Pass. For example, you can travel every day within a period of 15 days. This is best if your train trip is only for a few hours then you can spend the rest of the hours in a destination before moving on the next day.
Passes are available for adults, youth (under 28 years of age), children (4-11 years) and seniors (60 years and over).
Once you have chosen the type of pass that suits you best, then you can purchase it for either first or second class travel. Differences between the two classes are minimal but in general, first-class seating is more spacious, with fewer seats in each compartment, has more room for luggage and is often quieter. However, most passengers travel in second class with comfortable seating where you can chat to other travellers.
Paper or Mobile Eurail / Interrail Pass
Passes are available in both printed ticket or electronic form. If you choose the electronic format, the pass will be downloaded on your device through the Rail Planner App. When requested by carrier staff you will present the mobile pass ticket or your printed ticket.
European Country Passes
As well as the Eurail and Interrail Passes there are also country passes available if you decide you just want to spend time in one country. For instance, if you want to spend 7 days travelling around France you can check out a train pass to just travel around France. You can get details on the Eurail website about specific country passes.
How to use Your Eurail / Interrail Pass?
Using the Eurail pass is simple. Some trains do require a reservation ahead of time, but the majority allow you to board by just showing your pass. This feature comes in handy if you’ve missed your train or decided to change your travel plans. Take full control of your travel by hopping on and off the train when it’s most convenient for you.
To start your journey you need to activate the Eurail pass. Make sure to do this before your first train ride so you have a valid ticket on hand. You can activate your pass at most large train stations, but if you know the date of your first planned trip then you can activate the pass when you buy it for that date.
After activating your pass you will get 24 hours of unlimited rides for each of your travel days. This even includes boat and buses in the Eurail network. Plus, your travel days do not need to be taken consecutively. You have complete control over when and how you use your pass. Just make sure that you take your last ride until 11:59 PM on the last day because it will expire at this time.
How to Plan Your Europe Trip By Rail?
There are various options when purchasing the Eurail pass. You get to choose how many travel days are included in your pass depending on your travel itinerary. When planning your Europe trip by rail, it’s important to first consider the length of your holiday and how many destinations are on your list. This will help you determine how many travel days you need for your train pass.
Next, you should carefully look at the countries you intend to visit and how well they are connected by rail. If you’re trip takes place in European countries that don’t use the Eurail pass system then the pass won’t help you very much. Be thorough when planning your trip to ensure everything goes smoothly once you arrive in Europe.
The Eurail website has great information on how to plan your trip. By visiting the website you will be able to find the best rail pass, plan your route and then schedule your trip by checking train timetables.
So if you are planning a trip to Europe, consider train travel using a Eurail or Interrail Pass as they give you great flexibility to see the parts of Europe you want to see. Book your Eurail Pass now, then kick back and relax, enjoying your European adventure by train!
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.