Review - Eurail Global Pass
We knew we wanted to backpack Europe, but the plans didn't really fall into place until we decided that we would do so using a Eurail Global Pass. Shannon knew about them already, but I didn't find out what they were until talking to my high school history teacher. I told him about my plan to travel, and he went on to tell me all about how he had traveled Europe in his 20s using a Eurail pass. Obviously, I thought it sounded SO cool, so I looked into it immediately, and the foundation of our trip was born.
Eurail (the non-European's version of Interrail) offers so many different pass types that it's almost too overwhelming. From single country to global and from 5 days to 3 months continuous, they seriously have something for everyone. Shan and I decided on the 10 days within 1 month Global Pass, and it was perfect for what we wanted to do! If you are 18-26, you automatically receive a discount by being eligible for the youth pass. In addition, Eurail runs 20% off deals all the time. If you time it right, you can snag a pass for just over $400!
For each travel day, you get unlimited train (and some ferry and bus) rides in that 24 hour period. (Sidebar: This was SUPER useful when we had to go from Amsterdam to Rotterdam, then back to Amsterdam and back to Rotterdam, in the same day. Oops.) The nice part about so many options is that there's definitely one to fit the trip you have in mind!
For long-haul train rides or for some of the nicer trains, you do have to make reservations online before you leave for 5-20 Euros. Eurail offers a really simply booking service through their website, but you pay an extra fee each time you use it and have to wait up to two weeks to receive those reservation tickets in the mail. If possible, try to reserve your tickets directly through the train company's website. This is possible for Italy's Frecciarossa, the Swiss SBB, and several other larger train companies. We saved somewhere between $40 and $80 doing this!
If you're not concerned about spending a longer time on a train, you can usually break your long trip up into several smaller trips on regional trains. This saves you from having to pay the reservation fees. Using Eurail's trip planner, you can easily see which legs will require reservations and which don't.
Overall, we loved the flexibility provided by our train passes. We were able to wake up and decide if we wanted to spend that whole day in the same city or move on to the next earlier. We were even able to add cities to our trip that we didn't originally plan for! This pass allows you as much freedom as you want, or you can have a set plan for exactly which trains to take. While we probably could have spent a little less money by taking busses, we both prefer trains and it was well worth the comfort (and lack of motion sickness!). We emphatically recommend Eurail and Interrail passes for anyone looking to travel through Europe, no matter where you're going or how many times you've traveled. It's great for everyone!
** The thoughts expressed in this review are our own. We did not receive any discounted services or products for this review; we just really like Eurail! **