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Global pass for first timers

  • 11 November 2022
  • 6 replies
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Hi! 
We’re a family of 4 South Africans planning to travel through Europe in December 2022. We have an itinerary planned, but have never been to these countries, or even used the trains. (We currently live in Brunei where we don’t even have trains). 
Our itinerary looks like this: Barcelona 5 Dec, Marseille 8 Dec, Milan 9 Dec, Rome 12 Dec, Venice 15 Dec, Munich 16 Dec, Prague 18 Dec, Berlin 21 Dec, Copenhagen 23 Dec.
My son is in year 13 doing his IB, and will, of course be writing his mocks in the second week of January, which means it will not be all fun and games for him, he’ll have to use the train rides to study a bit as well. 
I want to buy the global passes  - my husband is 60, my daughter is 11 and my son is 17, and from what I have seen so far, the 10 day global pass will make it more affordable. My questions are:
1. Should I go for first class or second class? 
2. Am I correct to think that I buy the passes now, then book and pay for the trains that I want for the 8 days of travelling to our destinations as per itinerary, and then I have two extra days for in between?
3. I don’t activate anything until we are ready to use the train?
4. Is it worthwhile to book a night train for the experience?
5. Is it worthwhile to book the high speed trains?
6. Am I correct to assume that I only need to download the app to get my mobile passes - there’s no need for hard copies?
I would really appreciate any input as I am totally inexperienced in this and time is running out - I’d like to finalise the passes and the bookings asap.

Thank you,

Isolde

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Best answer by BrendanDB 11 November 2022, 11:57

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  1. That’s entirely up to you. In most countries 1st class is quite a beacon of quietness and a bit more spacious. Sometimes larger tables as well. Might be worthwile if you have a studying son. But it’s quite expensive.
  2. The pass is your ticket. For most of your connections (Barcelona-Marseille, Milan-Rome, Rome-Venice, Venice-Munich you probably need to reserve your seats. Seat reservations in 1st class cost more than 2nd. More information on reservations you find here: 

    PS: The Barcelona-Marseille high-speed train is very popular, and probably sold out already. There are only a limited number of pass-users allowed on that train. But you’ll have plenty of alternatives using local trains via Portbou-Cerbère.
    PPS: First class tickets in Germany are automatically sold with seat reservations, so you might want to reserve those as well.

  3. Indeed, you never know. Seat reservations are best bought in advance.

  4. For your routes, not really. You’ll miss out the Alpine scenery if you use it to go from Italy to the North.

  5. Depends on your preferences; sometimes. But again, if you don’t want to miss out on the Alpine scenery, you might want to take local trains that follow the slow, curvy, winding, mostly spectacular route through the mountains. Some of the (higher) speed trains just cross the lot of the Alps under a long tunnel. Using Thalys with a pass, between Brussels and Rotterdam/Amsterdam is not worth it, but that’s not in your itinerary;

  6. Indeed, everything is done via the app. Sometimes you want to print out the reservations to wave it in someone’s face is somebody’s sitting on your reserved seat. But a pdf is just fine.

Hi Brendan,

Thank you so much for your advice! I have just purchased the global passes. 

However, I am still slightly confused as to making a reservation on a rail company’s site. I only see the prices for the train tickets … how do I get to make a reservation on the rail company site instead of going through the Eurail app? When I search for a train on a rail company site, I fail to see where to make the reservation - all I see are the ticket prices for the respective journeys…

I will go to the reservation link you have given me, but they do not cover all the stations. 
 

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Hi Brendan,

Thank you so much for your advice! I have just purchased the global passes. 

However, I am still slightly confused as to making a reservation on a rail company’s site. I only see the prices for the train tickets … how do I get to make a reservation on the rail company site instead of going through the Eurail app? When I search for a train on a rail company site, I fail to see where to make the reservation - all I see are the ticket prices for the respective journeys…

I will go to the reservation link you have given me, but they do not cover all the stations. 
 

If they are not specifically mentioned in the thread linked by Brendan then most likely a rail company website does not provide a facility to allow seat only or eurail passholder reservations to be booked with them.

 

Specifically, SNCF, RENFE and Trenitalia do not provide this on their websites.

 

These 3 train companies and their subsidiaries (Thalys, Eurostar) cause a majority of the issues seen here due to their blocking of direct passholder booking online and other anti-eurail policies. It is a known issue that seemingly nobody in charge is willing to tackle.

 

For your itinerary, as explained above the main issue you will have is a train from Barcelona.  The direct high-speed service from Barcelona to France is problematic on a number of levels and you should just forget about trying for it.

 

The alternative is to use the local service to Cerbere, full timetable here https://rodalies.gencat.cat/web/.content/02_Horaris/horaris/R11.pdf

then look for suitable connections to Marseille. Connections are available both with and without using high-speed TGV, journey time without is often not that much slower.

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Sites like d bahn (germany) have a seat only option. OEBB (Austria and Italian trains) you add a discount code for each passenger of interrail/eurail pass, and for French TGV s use the b-europe dedicated site for pass holders. For others just ask if not clear in the link above.

Wow, thanks AI_G and Yorkie,

You really helped me understand the process a bit better. Let me see how far I get before another blonde moment strikes!

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Here is some useful information from the experienced travellers in the Community regarding both planning, reservations and activation of pass and travel days. 

 Planning

The rail planner is normally not up to date, as it only is updated once a month, so to be sure of the time table you better check the timetable and availability on the websites of the national railways. The bigger national railways, like DB (Germany) SBB (Switzerland) and ÖBB (Austria) cover several countries. 

 Reservations 

The advice from the experienced travellers in the community is to use other ways to make reservations than the Interrail/Eurail website.  You can look at the guide in the link:

https://community.eurail.com/train-connections-reservations-47/how-to-get-reservations-105

If you, after having looked at the guide, have questions about how to make specific reservation, please give your travel details (departure date, time and route) preferably in a new topic, and you will get advice.

Please note that Interrail/Eurail charges an extra fee of 2 EUR per person and train in addition to the fee for the seat reservation.

 Activation of pass

During the activation process, when you choose the start day of the validity of the pass, the first day of the validity period is automatically made a travel day, even if you don't enter a journey, the advice is therefore not to activate the pass before the first travel day as you only can deactivate the pass before 00.00 on the day the validity starts. If your travel plans change in the last moment you will loose travel days if you have activated the pass in advance.

It can be wise to make a test and activate the pass with a start date well in the future and then deactivate the pass immediately, just to see that everything works.

 Activation of travel day

The advice from the experienced travellers in the community is also never to activate a travel day, that is connect a journey to your pass and create the ticket (QR code), until just before boarding the train, otherwise you might loose a travel day if your travel plans change in a late stage  You can't delete a travel day in the past. A travel day can only be deleted until 23.59 CET the day before the travel day.

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