Fourteen years ago, in 1998, I went backpacking around Europe for the first time.
Paris / Amsterdam / Prague / Venice / Florence / Como / Rome / The French Riviera / Ireland
My 10-day Eurail Youth Flexipass gave me the freedom and flexibility to move around the continent on a whim.
And it was that first experience traveling on my own that would later inspire me to think bigger, and take a 20-month trip around the world.
This September marks my return to Europe for the first time since the end of my RTW trip, and I’ll once again be riding the rails.
This time, with a Eurail Global Pass.
The Global Pass is good in 23 countries, and my goal is to visit as many new ones as possible while I’m in the region.
I don’t have a concrete itinerary in mind, which is exactly why a rail pass suits travelers like me so well.
I’m still trying to decide between heading north to Scandinavia, or heading south through Eastern Europe toward Greece.
The pass is valid for 15 days within a two-month period, and because I’m now well over the age of 26, I’ll be riding in 1st Class.
The 1st class compartments are more spacious and comfortable, and I’ll still have access to the 2nd class compartments if I want to relive my youth.
For those unfamiliar with Eurail passes, the first step toward obtaining one is to decide which type of pass best fits your trip.
Eurail.com offers four categories of passes:
- Global Pass
- Select Pass
- Regional Pass
- One Country Pass
The Global Pass is ideal for the travelers who don’t want a set itinerary. It gives you access to 23 countries, and there are a variety of passes to choose from based on your age, and the length of your trip.
One of the best parts about using a Eurail pass is the ease with which you can travel.
Unless you’re taking a high speed or overnight train, you usually don’t have to reserve a seat in advance.
You just show up and board the train of your choice, and write the day and month in one of the spaces provided on the pass. Then, when the conductor comes by, he/she will stamp that date.
The Global Pass allows you to travel as much as you want on a single day, so I could make a trip that requires several transfers, but as long as they all occur on the same day, I’m only using up one of my 15 days.
My goal during the two-month travel period is to showcase the ease with which you can get around Europe by rail, and the savings foreigners can experience by buying a pass in advance, versus individual tickets as you go.
At the end of my trip, I’ll compare costs, and share the results here.
Have you traveled Europe with a rail pass? Share your experience in the Comments below.
Disclosure: Eurail.com provided me with a complimentary rail pass. As always, any opinions expressed are my own.