Travelling with an 11 year old autistic child

  • 29 January 2023
  • 3 replies

I am travelling from Australia in mid April with my 11 year old autistic son. We are travelling for 16 weeks through 11 countries starting in France. We wish to do a number of train journeys within each country not really big cities. 

We are visiting France, Spain, Morocco, portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, UK and Malta in that order.

I have used the Traineline App and costed out just the main country journeys which exceeds the

Global Pass however I'm struggling to work out the reservation cost associated with each eurail pass to see which is the best option. 

Our country dates are fixed but we have flexibility within each country so want to know if we can also use a Global pass to travel from say Porto to Lisbon as an example.

Sorry for long question but the challenges are great for this journey.

Thank you


Best answer by Schelte 29 January 2023, 11:36

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Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Malta has not trains, evidently, and MA (Morocco) is not in the pass-system anymore since quite a few yrs by now. I count passing 14 countries, ES triple, FR double, DE also by default, spread all over EUR ion those 16 weeks-quite a challenge.

IF RES is needed/mandatory differs quite a lot per country and again you have, like any newbee seems determined too, chosen the 3 that are the very hardest for that-and also more expensive. Those are #1 ESpana-as about all trains need to AND you can in actual practice only do that when there-with a big risk you have to change these so carefully monthes ahead constructed plans. Then #2 is FR-as all those hi-speed TGV need to-and also via quite restrictive ways. #3 is IT-again all long-dist, but much easier. AT, DE, CH=Swiss, DK-can do, not mandatory, with the slight risk of walking 3-4 cars till you come to an emptier part of train or so busy you may have to stand till next stop-when people get off. As a broad rule RES is possible often only 2 month ahead-and sometimes not even that far. Which thus also means you can do the latter half only whilst travelling already.

Cost also varies a lot per country, but is in general somewhere from 5-10€/seat/trip. Via EUrail every time 2€ extra-can avoid that often by using other ways. anna b fra Sverige or other regular forums like sebas seewulf will post links to long lists of ways to do that yourself-often easier, cheaper, but eating time and efforts. MORe expens. are that €*-at last 30, and TGV IN FR-10 if lucky (quota) or 20 if not.

The last weeks we have seen a continuous stream of OZzies very disappointed or on the brink of nervous collapse as RES was not possible-the simply reason: they were to early.

Frankly: as such a pass is not really meant to construct such monthes ahead till last min. set up plans, this is bound to go astray. How that will work out with a child like yours, you yourself probably will know best. I would add; this scheme is way too ambitious, make a plan B and skip those outer ends that also require a long trip back same way, like MA=Morocco.IF it is about seeing as many countries as can do: go via CZ and PL after AT to DE-or with a ferry PL-SE-then a circle back via DK. Or if that MA is really wanted- fly there-cheap airlines enough, again IF you know how to handle that and book with brains.

This is probably not what you had hoped to see, but OZzies from my experience also can value hard facts- kiwiś often even more  (?!)

Userlevel 6
Badge +4

If you share the itinerary you have in mind & checked through Trainline, we can probably give you a better indication of the reservation fees. You do need to consider them, as they can be considerable (particularly for the TGV from Paris to Barcelona or the Eurostar between The Netherlands and the UK, both €35 per leg).

Note your 11-year-old can get a free Eurail pass (bought together with yours) but does need reservations where compulsory.

Our country dates are fixed but we have flexibility within each country so want to know if we can also use a Global pass to travel from say Porto to Lisbon as an example.

Yes you could. If you have an active travel day, you will have to buy a compulsory reservation for €5 for a trip in an IC or slightly faster Alfa Pendular train. Trains in Portugal are however pretty cheap, so you could also opt to buy an advance promotional ticket for that route (starting at €9,50 in an IC, taking 3h15 or  €14,50 in an Alfa Pendular which takes 2h50. Prices can go up to €31,90 - that’s the full price in an Alfa Pendular).

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

As above, France, Spain and Italy are the three ‘worst’ countries for a rail pass. (Italy a bit less bad, because the reservations are easy and slightly cheaper than France.)

However in Austria, Germany, Netherlands and UK, passes are great! No reservation needed (except for a few international trains) and generally you’re saving a lot vs very expensive fares. Add in Switzerland for even better value!

So on that Itinerary, I’d seriously consider point to point fares until you get to Austria, then a rail pass. Possibly use the pass in Italy too, depending on your exact itinerary.

The only thing that will swing it is that your child goes free on Eurail. (Though they have to buy reservations just like you.)