Is Eurail Worth It? That is a question I kept asking myself as I was trying to plan our Europe Holiday.
In three weeks time, we will be heading off to Europe. Europe is a destination on top of many peoples “must visit” lists. But it can pose it’s challenges.
To Eurail or not to Eurail?
What’s the best way to book accommodation in Europe?
What kind of luggage will I need?
How do I budget for Europe?
All these questions we have had to answer over the last couple of months. And I’m sure many other questions will be answered in the next couple of months of travel. So we decided to share all the results with you, hopefully helping you plan your Europe vacation. So this is #1 in our series of “Europe Case Studies”.
So Is Eurail Worth it?
At first, I struggled to find the answer, probably because the answer will be different for everybody.
After a little research, I decided that buying each train ticket individually might work out better for us, but honestly, I really wasn’t sure.
But now the results are in! I have booked and paid for all of our Europe train tickets, and compared them to the equivalent Eurail pass.
The following prices are what we paid for both Chris and I. We booked most of these tickets roughly 2 months in advance, give or take a week or two. Although most of these tickets were cheaper as we booked in advanced, in some instances, we could have got cheaper again if we booked even earlier.
- Rome to Napples // Premium Class // $48 Euro or $73.21 AUD // Booked through trenitalia.com // Special 2 for 1 Saturdays
- Salerno to Naples // Business Class // 78 Euro or $119.25 AUD // Booked through trenitalia.com // Super Economy
- Florence to Venice // Second Class // 58 Euro or $88.68 AUD // Booked through trenitalia.com // Economy
- Venice to Bologna // Second Class // 30 Euro or $45.86 AUD // Booked through trenitalia.com // Special 2 for 1 Saturdays
- Avignon to Lyon // Second Class // 30 Euro or $45.86 AUD // Booked through CapitaineTrain.com // TGV Prem’s
- Lyon To Paris // First Class // 90 Euro or $131.40 AUD // Booked through CapitaineTrain.com // TGV Prem’s
- TOTAL COST = 334 Euro or $504.26 AUD
So I have booked 6 train trips (for 2 people) on 6 different days, in Italy and France.
The equivalent Eurail pass would be a Regional pass: France – Italy Pass – 6 days. The table below outlines the costs involved. Keep in mind these fares are based on two people saver fares. If you are travelling alone or book separate passes, these costs would be more expensive.
- Eurail Regional Pass for France + Italy 6 Days First Class = $449 AUD (322 Euro) x 2 = $998 AUD (644 Euro) + reservation fees
- Eurail Regional Pass for France + Italy 6 Days Second Class = $426 AUD (275 Euro) x 2 = $852 AUD (550 Euro) + reservation fees
Is Eurail worth it for us? I’m really surprised to see these results. When I first decided to book our Europe train tickets individually, I thought it would be less expensive then Eurail, but not by this much. Our results show we have saved roughly 50% (min $200 per person) by booking individually, and that’s without adding in reservation fees for Eurail. Booking train tickets was easy, once I knew where to look. I also didn’t pay any booking or reservation fees, and I don’t need to worry about reserving seats when we are on holidays.
For Chris and I, on this particular trip, booking individual tickets definitely saved us money and hassle.
Is Eurail worth it for you?
After seeing these results, I think it’s definitely worth investigating buying individual tickets first, before deciding on a Eurail pass. Obviously, there may be some circumstances where a Eurail pass may be cheaper. For example, if you had long, expensive train trips, or multiple trips on one day. Also, our example was for a regional pass, whilst Eurail offer other passes, to cover more or less countries.
When to use Eurail
- If you need flexibility/ability to change plans: Depending on availability, you may be able to decide on the day where and when you want to travel.
- If you haven’t booked any trains in advance. Prices are generally high for last minute individual train bookings, so do a quick comparison and weigh up if Eurail would be cheaper.
- If you have lot’s of expensive, long journeys. Again, do a quick comparison to make sure Eurail looks cheaper.
- If you have lot’s of days with multiple train journeys on the same day.
- If you just want to go with Eurail, then make sure you watch out for earlybird specials or deals well in advance of your trip.
A note on France and Eurail
Eurail have limited seats that are able to be reserved on French Trains. They advise booking 2 – 3 months in advance if you want to get a seat. If you have a few train trips in France, think twice about Eurail. If you need to book in advance, you will probably get it cheaper just by booking individual train tickets in advance.
When to book individual train tickets
- If you are only travelling to one or two countries in Europe, there is a good chance that individual ticket purchase would be cheaper.
- If you are happy to book in advance, to get cheap deals on tickets.
- If you are doing mainly short, individual train trips on one day.
- If France is a significant part of your Europe trip.
A great resource and starting point for booking train tickets individually is The Man in Seat Sixty-One. I used this website to help point me in the right direction.
To book our Italian trains, I used Trenitalia. Keep in mind some of the station names are slightly different as it is an Italian site, so I used Italiarail to check, but didn’t book through them as I believe they can have booking fees.
For our French trains I booked through Trainline, which had no booking fees, easy to use and you can print your tickets straight off.
For some other money saving articles to save on holidays see:
What has been your experience with Eurail vs booking individual tickets?
We would love to hear from you in the comments below…