I call Eurail our “Thousand Dollar Europe Mistake.” When I was researching for our Europe trip, I was told by everyone that the best way (and cheapest) was to go by train! The Eurail was a good deal, they said. Well, that is all a LIE!! Of course, everyone who is European knows that, but the best way to travel around Europe hasn’t hit American soil yet.
We ran into a couple of girls who were in Prague for the weekend from Berlin, and when we told them what we were using to travel they said “WHAT?! You know that we got here for $30 bucks a person on a bus?”
Unfortunately, this information was a few months too late.
(Other information that might come a little too late is how to get the cheapest flights from the US to Europe, check here for 3 tips you NEED to save TONS of money while buying flights!)
Not only that but when you buy a Eurail pass, the expenses aren’t over yet. You still need to pay to RESERVE each ticket that you bought.
So Here’s How the Eurail Works
There are different Eurail passes for you to buy. We bought the pass that gives you 10 trips on a train within a 60-day period. Also, we bought it when it was on “sale” (ha!) and got an extra 2 days.
We paid a little over $1,000 for that. We thought “Okay, that’s not bad! And it will be easier to use right?!” You would just hop on the train and show them your pass, no complications!
For me, the pass would have been worth a little bit more money if it made the trip easier and the views from the train would be spectacular!
However, it made our trip much more of a hassle than it should have been. We now had our tickets and our itinerary planned out so we just hop on the right train and we’re good, right?
That is when the real kicker hit:
They wanted more money from us. Apparently, when you buy a train ticket, you are only buying the train ticket. You are actually not buying a seat on the train…… uhhh???? Yep… it’s called:
So now they tell us, you need to pay a RESERVATION FEE for each ticket that you want. AND these have to be bought in advance or you might not be able to get on the train. AND if you get on the train without one, you will get kicked off. Wonderful.
This cost us about 200 Euros more, ON TOP OF THE $1,000! Then my stomach hit my toes… because the RESERVATION FEES cost us about how much taking a BUS would have cost us… We were scammed.
It would have cost us around $400-500 to take buses all around Europe. Instead, we paid double!
Here is what it says on the Eurail website:
Although it says that they are common in those countries, we ended up having to pay a “reservation fee” for almost every train on the trip and it states that these fees are NOT included in the pass.
What You Should Do Instead: The Best Way to Travel Europe
So what should you do? Learn from our Europe mistake and
use “GoEuro.” (Now called Omio)
UPDATE: Since changing their name to “Omio” they have added service fees and often do not show the cheapest bus option which is Flixbus.
Omio is still a great website for comparing trains, buses, and flights across Europe. It will organize it by what’s cheapest and what’s the fastest. You can save money by comparing and then booking directly with the company Omio recommends.
If you’d still like to book from Omio, you can use my referral code to get €10 off your trip, too! daynab8u6i6c.
The amount needs to be at least €40 in order to use the code, so consider buying multiple trips at once in order to get the €10 off! To save a bit more money on your trip to Europe, here are 5 things that are GUARANTEED to save you money during your trip.
You’d be surprised to know that most of the buses are actually only a few hours of travel longer than a train, if not faster in some cases! Not only that, but they are a fraction of the price of a train ticket.
When we first bought the Eurail tickets we were really new at traveling and didn’t read well into what we were buying. We somehow thought that England was also included on the pass, but it wasn’t!
Although we were super upset, it gave us the chance to hop on a FlixBus and experience just how easy that was in comparison. We have used Flixbus to travel around Europe now for a few years and although sometimes they arrive a bit late, we haven’t had any problems!
We have now used Flixbus to travel through Italy, Germany, France, and Austria extensively!
Omio Flixbus on our Christmas Tour of Europe 2018
We have been able to see so much more of Europe than we could have with trains. The more money you save on transportation the more places you can visit!
Here are some of my favorite places we visited during Christmas last year since it was so much cheaper to travel around (check out the Christmas Market Itinerary we followed on this blog post!):
The moral of the story, use Flixbus and travel around Europe faster and cheaper than before! And no, I am not sponsored by Flixbus or by anyone, I just really want to help you avoid our giant Europe mistake (aka Eurail) so that you can see more of this gorgeous continent with your hard-earned money.
This was actually an excerpt from my ebook: If You Teach a Man to Travel: How to Travel Europe on $35 a Day. If you’d like more tips that will save you money in Europe and change the way you travel, check out my ebook here! Don’t make the same Europe mistake we did!
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Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.