Is Eurail Pass Worth It?

I’d like to begin the travel segment by summarising my experience with Eurail “Global” Pass.

Eurail pass is a train pass available for purchase to all NON-EUROPEAN residents. It must be bought in your home country as it is not available for purchase in any cities of Europe.

The purpose of this pass is to encourage foreigners to travel within the 22 countries of Europe so my initial understanding was: "it would be of many benefits". However in practice, it was inconvenient, not flexible and ended costing so much more on top.  Suffice to say, Eurail Pass was not worth it.

How so, you ask?

Any train schedule which displays “R” requires supplementary RESERVATION. Bear in mind this will cost on top of your Eurail pass. Rail Europe website indicates reservation cost varies between 1 to 35 Euros so imagine my surprise when I was quoted 300 Euros per person for a 3 hour trip from Amsterdam to Paris.

Here is the problem

There is a limited number of allocated seats for Eurail pass holders, so when the seats are exhausted, you must pay the normal ticket pricing. Of course you can choose to board the next train, but in my case, the next 9 Euros train to return to Paris will come two days after. Doesn’t this make you wonder: "what is the purpose of Eurail pass if you cannot use it whenever you want?"

If you want to reserve early, you can do so online but in many case of website errors and pop-ups “booking cannot be made outside country of departure” then you need to queue at the train station of each departure point. This is terrible for travellers with limited time especially when you only have a day to spend in that city.

Conclusion

I realise now that Eurail is the perfect solution for travellers with flexible itineraries, traveling from one city to the next, continuing on rather than returning. It is good for daytime trips in countries and trains which require no reservation.

Trains are the simplest way to travel Europe but Eurail passes may not be the best option financially. My advice to you is to create sample itineraries, do your calculation online by comparing the passes versus individual tickets – rail and airlines – and then see which option works out best for you. Happy travel!

Gare du Nord, Paris

Camera

They call Paris "the city of light", most beautiful and romantic destination in the world, rich with delicate and historic architectural surroundings and who seriously hasn’t seen images of the stunning Eiffel Tower. Thus it only makes sense to bring a good camera to document all these wonders. Question is: which one is practical for me?

DSLR cameras add instant ‘pro-photographer’ persona and assuming you work the camera properly – it produces amazing shots and would suit those pursuing photography to another level. However considering its non-practicality in weight and size, I know I will leave mine home on most days and end up taking pictures with my phone.

The new breed of high-end compact digital cameras – rumoured to produce quality images just like entry-level DSLRs – couldn't come into my life at better timing. The most handsome of them all is FujiFilm X10.

The entry-level DSLR I looked at was Nikon D3100 – priced AUD850 bundled with 35mm f1.8 lens – and according to Snapsort.com, specs of Fuji X10 win! I had my eyes locked on this retro beauty but it made little sense to splurge AUD699 when the pricegap between the compact and DSLR isn't much.

As I continued my search, a friend who runs a photography business suggested Canon PowerShot S100. Who am I to argue with a pro? Online comparison of Fuji X10 vs Canon S100 showed equally divided opinions due to match point in specs with only few differences below.

1. Fuji X10 is hands down superficially better looking – well I think so anyway.

2. Fuji X10 has the manual aperture bit – you zoom into a subject by turning the lens manually like a DSLR – You could interpret this information as a glass half-full/half-empty: A. Fuji X10 allows better control over your subject or B. Canon S100 is easier to use 😉

3. Fuji X10 has super macro mode of 1cm, whereas Canon S100 macro mode stops at 3cm. I learnt that macro is useful if you want to capture extreme close detail of a subject. I can deal with the 2cm difference.

4. Canon S100 is way less expensive at AUD400. It’s almost a bargain!

Hoping it portrays Paris well, I'm taking Canon S100 with me.

Pacsafe

I’m one of those people who go into a store to buy a particular item and leave with a completely different product instead. You want an example? The other day I went into a store to get some new luggage as noted on my to-do list. Well I got the luggage but I also came out with a Pacsafe Roamsafe 100 – also known as Slingsafe 300.

In my defence, I certainly bought the backpack impulsively not because of looks but for its anti-theft properties!  It is deemed slashproof, snatchproof and tamperproof. 

Click here to read official brochure

I’d rather not take any chance having heard too many stories and warnings about pickpockets and bag snatchers in Paris, I need this.