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.
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