The Eurail pass is the "Cliff Clavin" of rail passes: Everyone knows its name. But is it really the best pass for your trip? There are dozens of other rail passes available, some of which cover unlimited train travel, some of which cover groups of countries and others that cover specific countries or areas, one of which might be better suited to your travel needs.
Some questions to help you decide which pass is best:
- How many days will you actually travel? It may be cheaper to get a pass that offers, say, four travel days if you know you'll only be visiting a couple of cities on your trip.
- Which countries can you realistically visit on your trip, or will you stay mostly in one country? Unless you plan to spend every day in a new city and every night on a train, your best bet might be a rail pass that offers non-consecutive travel days or only covers a specific area of Europe.
- Are you under 26 on the first day you'll travel using your pass? In that case, your age means you can consider one of the less pricey "youth" passes.
- Are you over 60? If so, you're eligible for discounted rates, but they'll likely require you book first-class tickets.
- And are you prone to losing things? (We ask because if so, you might want to spring for pass protection insurance.)
A little trip planning can save you money, and we know that means more souvenirs, more wine and maybe a night or two in a nicer hotel. Here's our lowdown on various rail pass types and how they work.
Next page: Types of passes