How to Use the Eurail

Let’s start off by saying, this is the most amazing thing you could possibly buy if you plan on going to Europe. This one ticket grants you the ability to see practically every inch of Europe by train, bus, or boat. Using a Eurail Pass might be confusing at first, you might even wonder how it works in the first place. In short, you simply purchase the ticket through the website, Eurail Website, and select your location(s) that you are traveling in, then you use that one purchased ticket for all of your transportation (where it’s valid of course).

Here are some great reasons why you should buy a Eurail ticket when you travel in Europe.

#1 One Ticket For All Transportation

This one ticket allows access to a number of major train companies throughout Europe. One ticket means you don’t need to worry about purchasing all sorts of tickets for each and every excursion you take. Having only one ticket also makes organizing a whole lot easier. (Disclaimer, reservations are sometimes needed which are not included with the Eurail pass, and not all trains are affiliated with the Eurail Pass)

#2 Multiple Pass Options

Whether you are visiting one country or 10, the Eurail has an option for you. The Eurail covers 31 countries within the European continent, as well as the U.K. and Ireland!

#3 Save Tons of Money and Time

Probably the best reason why you should get a Eurail pass is because of how much money and time you can save. Choosing the Eurail pass gives you access to so many train routes, like mentioned before, 31 countries worth of routes! Now, if you plan to see as much as you can over a course of time, this one ticket can save you so much time by hoping on which ever train route fits your itinerary the best, no need to plan out every second of your day! This pass is perfect for day trip explorations too! Also, if you miss your train or decided to just stay later at one destination, just take the next available train! Super simple, super easy and super convenient!

Getting Started

So before you jump into getting your pass, you should explore the website to learn about the different passes you can purchase. They have options for visiting one or multiple countries, as well as passes that are more time orientated for your trip.

These passes include:

1 country pass – allows access to all the routes within the country of your choice. You can also piggy back bordering countries to give your travels an extended adventure! You could buy two or 3 countries worth and and travel between borders.

The other pass is of course the Global pass, which as the name implies, gives you access to all of the 31 countries involved with the Eurail system! The benefits with this pass is you have zero boundaries with your travels and when you want to hop a boarder for a day or two, you can do so without extra costs! With the ability to explore so many places where do you start!?

On top of the passes mentioned above, you have a few options to add on with them, they include the time frames on when you will be traveling. They include 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8, travel days. Each of these are usable within 1 month.

Travel days are the days you can use with your pass. You may use as many buses, trains, or boats during your travel day (unlimited travel). The travel days are start at 12:00 am and end on 11:59 pm on the same day (00:00 – 23:59). Be sure to maximize your travel days efficiently.

The Global Pass however, has more than just a few days. With the Global Pass, you can have:

  • 3, 5, and 7 days within 1 month
  • 10 days within 2 months
  • 15 days within 2 months
  • 15 days consecutive
  • 22 days consecutive
  • 1 month consecutive
  • 2 months consecutive
  • 3 months consecutive

In our opinion this pass is the “most for your money” and definitely worth it!

Planning Your Trip

Now that we have you caught up on how wonderful this pass is, we can start talking about the specifics of the pass. Plus all the benefits you can use while your pass is active!

First of all, not all trains are affiliated with the Eurail Pass (most are, but not all). Second, Travel days can be flexible with overnight journeys, as long as your departure is before 11:59 pm (23:59). Lastly, there are night trains that you can use to your advantage for reaching further destinations!

The Eurail pass also has an app that is free to download too. The app works offline so it may be a hefty download, but trust me it is very worth it!

Once you have the app downloaded, you choose what pass you have and accept all those pesky terms and conditions. There are updates and alerts you can accept to receive only if you have service or WiFi enabled, if you don’t want any roaming charges, it’s best to check “no” for this. Now you can start planning your trip. We used it primarily for research and confirming all of our timetables and destinations, then did finalization on our computer. You can save your searches (like planning your trip) on the app to make it more convenient for you to glance at, each time you are looking for your next train. Also, make sure you check the box that says “Pass Network Only”, so you can have trains appear with you.

Reservations

Okay, so your pass gives you unlimited rides, however, you still may need to reserve your seat for a fee. This could be 20 Euros or less, not too many trains would cost more unless it’s a first class seat, or an overnight train. To find trains that don’t require reservations just click the box under the search section “No Reservation Needed”.

Making reservations is easy to do, and the mobile app supports this ability. Preferably, I like to book my reservations on the Eurail website rather than through the app, it makes the process easier and more secure. Another option, if you are able to, is to search for the trains that need reservations directly through the train company’s website to make reservations. This option can be cheaper for some trains, but it is also challenging, where as the websites are foreign and can be hard navigating.

You can access the website portal here for reservations. Make sure you make an account with Eurail, which you may already have when purchasing your pass. From your account, you can create an itinerary to keep all your trains in one place. For both reserved trains and non reserved trains.

Organizing Your Trip

Once you have navigated the Eurail app and website and you start crafting your trip, you can save your trip on the mobile app or you can create a list on the Eurail website under your account profile. You can also print off a copy of your journey (itinerary) from the online website, so you have a physical copy at all times. It’s best to stay as organized as possible before your trip, that way you can just follow a plan or at least have a timeline to work around your excursions!

Put your trip in order of checking in and checking out. Start with the planes, and account for delays. Once you have those down, do the same for trains, make sure you give yourself a decent buffer time between trains, unless you are comfortable with the station’s layout and getting around. Sometimes trains have to wait for long periods of time for another train’s defect/delay. In addition to train delays expect larger stations to have large crowds or swarming people. It can be stressfuk to get through long lines at gates if you are low on time Hamburg, Germany (HBF) has a huge station with little walking space for the amount of hourly traffic. Give yourself some time between to get spatially oriented and don’t forget to breath.

Planning a trip like this can get a little out of control as you have the power to see so many places. Be sure to limit yourself and choose the best places for your vacation style. Sometimes cities aren’t everyone’s first choice, there are plenty of smaller towns and villages that are exceptionally beautiful. Rain and I stopped in Flensburg, Germany on our way to Berlin, and we had a wonderful time there. It was a small port city just at the border between Germany and Denmark, and had plenty of things to take pictures of and explore!

Night Trains

Lastly, Rain and I have mentioned night trains in a previous post. The night trains are an absolute wonderful experience, from which I believe everyone should try one at least once. Now, another disclaimer – the cabins are small. So, if you’re a bit on the taller side, confirm the size of the bed for the cabin you choose.

Night trains are the best way to cover larger distances without having to take a ton of trains all day. Rain and I traveled from Berlin to Zurich on a night train which saved us a whole day of traveling to enjoy more of each city! Check out our post on using night trains!

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