How the rail pass works once you've bought it.
EuroCheapo's Guide to European Rail Passes
Eurail Pass Overview

You've paid a bunch of money for something that looks kind of like an old carbon credit card receipt. You have no idea what to do with it or how it works. Fret not!

Step 1. Validate at the station.

First of all, you don't need to do anything with your pass until you get to Europe and decide to validate it.

Rail passes must be validated within six months of their purchase date. To do this, once you're abroad on your trip, take your self, your rail pass and your passport to your nearest train station, and hand the papers over at the ticket window. The ticket seller writes your passport number on the pass, the pass's validity dates and stamps the pass with a big rubber stamp. Voilà: validated.

Step 2. Write the date in the boxes.

On the bottom part of a flexible day Eurail Pass, you'll find two rows—one for the month of travel and one for the day. Fill those in with your travel day and you're ready to go hop on a train. If you purchased a consecutive day Eurail Global Pass, the first and last day that your pass is valid is printed on the pass, so no worrying about filling in travel dates. Simple, no?

Any time you travel using your pass, you'll need to show your passport along with the pass, even if you're not leaving the country.

Some friendly advice: Don't try to erase or alter your travel dates in order to finagle another day of use on your pass. This is fraud, and it's grounds for the conductor to confiscate your pass and maybe boot you off the train. Don't ask us how we know the consequences. (cough!)

Tip: Consider point-to-point tickets for short trips.

As we mentioned earlier, rail passes are expensive, so on occasion it might be worth it to buy point-to-point tickets. One rule of thumb is that if the trip takes less than three hours, it's worthwhile to buy tickets instead of using a day of your pass. Most three hour trips will cost you less than the price of a travel day (for example, a Venice to Milan trip takes about three hours, and will cost you from €19 to €35, depending on the type of train).

This not only allows you to save travel days on your pass, it potentially saves you money.

Still not sure if you need a rail pass or point to point ticket? Check pass prices with EuroCheapo's rail partner, Rail Europe.

Next page: Schedules and timetables

Our Guide to Eurail Passes
Eurail Pass Overview Eurail Pass Types
Choosing a rail pass
Rail pass types and what they cover
How the rail pass works once you've bought it
Choosing your train
Train types and what they mean
Overnight trains
Pass protection insurance

Eurail Pass Overview
Consecutive Day Passes
Flexible Travel Passes
Other Passes: Regional and National
Austria-Slovenia-Croatia Pass
Austria Railpass
Benelux Tourrail Pass
Britrail Pass
Czech FlexiPass
FinnRail Pass
France-Germany Pass
France-Italy Pass/Saverpass
France-Spain Pass/Saverpass
France-Switzerland Pass
Germany-Austria Pass
Germany-Benelux Pass
Germany-Denmark Pass
Germany-Switzerland Pass
Eurail Greece Pass
Greece-Italy Pass
Hungarian Flexipass
Hungary-Slovenia-Croatia Pass
Italian Trenitalia Pass
Norway Railpass
Portuguese Railpass
Romania-Hungary Pass
Romanian Railpass
ScanRail Pass
Spain-Portugal Pass
Spain Railpass


Follow Us