Eurail Passes: Worth it?
Research carefully and know the restrictions
To determine how to get the most value for your money, consider the type of travel you will be doing before purchasing a Eurail pass.
Eurail passes are great for backpackers, but when it comes to studying abroad or shorter trips, you need to be very organized to get the most out of it. Andy tackles this subject in an article he wrote for Peregrine, Notre Dame's study abroad magazine:
"I’ve often been asked if Eurail passes save students money while overseas. To put it simply, they do for the organized ones. Eurail passes cannot be bought in Europe, and are designed for the backpacker traveling every few days making the grand loop over several months throughout the continent. That is to say, they’re designed for those who are traveling through cities A-B-C-D and so on… Whereas the short term trips and student travels are often A-B-A, A-C-A, A-D-A, returning to an origin at the end of a weekend or few days.
If you’re organized, you it is possible to save money using a pass. Eurail prices are a function of several factors: number of countries in which they’re valid, number of days in which you can travel (an overnight costs only 1 day), and the overall traveling window.
For example: a student heading to Rome for a semester knows she wants to visit the Amalfi Coast, Venice, Florence and the Cinque Terre. If she plans her times right, she could in theory pick up a pass for just ITALY, for 8 TRAVEL DAYS within a MONTH of the first travel day used. This way she has bought the lowest possible number in each of those factors that determine the price of the overall Eurail pass. She may also want to visit Nice, but since that would add another country to the pass, she should find a cheap flight instead of paying for access to a whole other country’s rail system.
Also consider your time in transit as a valuable commodity. If a train takes 14 hours to get to Rome from Paris, and a flight would only cost 35 euros and get you there in 1.5hrs, that's something to consider. Before you splurge for a pass, be sure to do some cursory flight searches."
I chose to do this rather than book my own trip in Rome - I wanted to experience one organized/sight-seeing trip rather than a relaxing vacation like many of my others had been. Two friends and I signed up for WSA Rome and don't regret a thing. We met wonderful people, were led by an awesome tour guide Rhianne, and got to see everything I wanted to see in Rome. Plus eat all the best food. There is an optional dinner on the last night that we didn't do right away, but we ended up going to it, and it was SO worth the 20 euro. I made memories and friends, and got to see a beautiful, historic city thanks to WSA!!Mallory Dirks, Simpson College ~ University of Roehampton, London, Fall 2015
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