Barcelona Hotels Articles

August 8, 2010

Tips for saving money when traveling in Europe

THE EURAIL PASS

Is it Europe’s Greatest Deal for Foreign Travelersor is it Europe’s Greatest Deception?

When planning my trip across Europe, I was very torn as to whether or not to purchase a Eurail pass. Everyone I talked to seemed to think the pass would save me a great deal of money and was a must have for the foreign traveler. It was very expensive and I was weary about purchasing it. For a ten-day pass that must be used in a two-month period, the price was close to $700 US. It was double that for a two month unlimited pass. I had to make a decision before I came to Europe since the pass is only available outside Europe to non-European residents. Out of fear, I made a compromise and purchased the ten-day pass.

A GREAT SALES PITCH

I read the sales pitch for the pass and it sounded like a great deal. A quote from the Eurail Traveler’s guide: “Besides unlimited travel in the countries in which your Eurail Pass is valid, Eurail’s bonuses stretch your travel budget. The pass entitle you to free or discounted ferry and bus travel in selected countries, generous discounts on Eurostar tickets through the Channel Tunnel, tourist railways, hotels, car rentals, and more.” The pass also promised first class travel and the luxury of not having to stand in ticket lines.

THE REALITY

This sounded great. I thought I would be a fool not to purchase this pass. Well I have been traveling throughout Europe for almost two months now. I have taken trains, ferries, buses, sleeper trains, and rental vehicles and stayed in a number of hotels and I have yet to experience any of these great benefits aside from receiving a $100 discount on the Chunnel train from London to Paris and a $6 discount on a ferry to Ibiza. I have not come across any budget hotels, buses, or car rental places that offer Eurail discounts.

BREAKING EVEN

In order to break even, I estimated that each train ride I take must cost at least $70 US. Most trains are inexpensive in Europe and the buses are even cheaper. The price of taking a thirty-minute to four-hour train ride from one city to another ranged from around $5 US to $40 US. The longer routes which traveled from one major city to another all required reservations and payment above what I had already paid for my pass. The prices ranged from 3 Euros to 70 Euros. For example, on an overnight train from Paris to Barcelona I had to pay 60 Euros extra, roughly $45 US for a four-person couchette. I could have flown

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