Traveling: When to pay for stuff (transportation)

One of the recurring issues I am having with planning my trip is the dilemma of when to purchase things like train tickets/passes and the order in which to purchase them.

Step 1: Decide on where all you will be needing to go.

I know that I will be traveling in over 6 countries I have never been before. I decided that it would be best to purchase a pass instead of a group of point-to-point tickets simply because of the possibility of missing a scheduled train due to a miscalculation of walking distance or the other. For the region that I am traveling in, it would be best to purchase the Eurail pass. Because I am visiting more than 5 countries, I will have to get the Eurail Global Pass instead of the Select Pass (where you select up to 5 countries to visit), because a “visit” in a country counts as either getting off the train at a stop there, OR simply passing along its train tracks. So even though I wasn’t planning on stopping in France or Belgium on the way to Holland, the Select Pass would have deducted on country from my limited visiting total. The Global Pass, instead allows unlimited travel for the time period selected in any of the 23 participating countries.

* It is helpful to know that Eurail passes are not applicable in Great Britain. Just like Pound Sterling (instead of Euro) and three-prong electrical sockets (instead of two), the Brits really just like to have their own special “something”  I’m beginning to realize. I will provide follow-up in a future post about British rail tips.*

Step 2: Decide on the route you will be taking and the amount and location of stops you will want to make.

After leaving the UK, I will need to end up in Spain for my study abroad program, so I was able to calculate a maximum of 16 days  in which I would be able to traverse the Continent. Because that coincided most closely with the 15-day consecutive pass, I decided that that option would be best. Flexible passes are the other type of pass, and they allow non-contiguous calendar day use. Remember to sit back and look at who you are as a statistic whenever you have to pay for ANYTHING; it helps you to spot discounts everywhere! Because I am under 25, a student, and a non-European resident, I was able to figure out a savings of over $200 for this pass.

Step 3: Decide on when to pay for the pass/tickets.

When things are offered to tourists that are not offered to residents of a destination, they usually only retain their lower cost outside of the destination country. This applies to the Eurail, as its passes need to be ordered online and shipped for the special pricing. Purchasing them directly from the website or from a student travel site like statravel.com is best. This means that you can’t wait until the week before you travel to purchase the those passes. And because I plan to leave home before I actually fly to Europe, I have to plan a little more in advance.

So, to recap: some things you will need not only to plan, but to purchase, before you arrive at your destination. With shipping time included, this is definitely one of the highest on the list of purchase-ASAP-items.

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5 thoughts on “Traveling: When to pay for stuff (transportation)”

  1. Hi there, simply become aware of your blog via Google, and found that it is truly informative. I am going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful in the event you proceed this in future. A lot of other folks shall be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

      1. When I had my pass last summer, I know that the deal was that if I took a night train (overnight, with slepeer cars) after 7 pm, then that counted as the next day. In other words, if I got on a train on July 17 and got off of it on the 18th, as long as I got on after 7 pm, then it would only count as 1 day.If you want to go a really long distance, I’d say if you’re looking at up to 12 hours with no stops in between (like, from southern Italy to Madrid . most people would stop in Nice or Barcelona for a night to break up the trip) . you should take RyanAir for the long trips. 12 hours on a train is not fun, and I’ve definitely had 11-12 hour train days. What is basically means is that you can get on and off as much as you want in one day.The discounts on the trains are fine your pass is your ticket, so you’ve already paid. What you really should do though is buy a seat reservation when you get to the station. It’s usually not too much more than 3 euros and guarentees you the seat. You have to pay more money if you are on a slepeer train, because you’re paying for the bunk bed, and you definitely have to have a reservation ahead of time.So is the pass worth it? Totally. I traveled from Vienna to Prague, and then Vienna to Venice to San Benedetto (Italy) to Milan to Genoa to Nice to Marseilles to Barcelona to Madrid to Paris. And then i had to pay 75 euros or something to take the Chunnel to London because England isn’t on the pass. I had the 10 day flexi pass (with a 2 months period) and I used about 7 days sometimes they even forgot to stamp the pass. And it’s so nice to be able to get on and off whenever you want. So I’d highly recommend it. Just remember to double check that the countries you want to go to are covered by the pass (italy, spain, and france are)

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