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Is Eurail our best option?

  • 8 August 2023
  • 2 replies
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Hi, we are a group of 6 ladies (50+) planning our European adventure and trying to decipher the rail ticketing system.

Our itinerary is Amsterdam - Bruges - Paris - Strasbourg - Chur (Bernini Express) - Milan (via Tirano) - Venice.

We will have a set itinerary.

Looking at April/May 2024.

I am so confused by all I have read with the pro’s & cons of Eurail passes versus individual tickets.

Some of our concerns are limited reservations available, difficulty in booking, getting seats together etc

Any advice would be gratefully received.

Thank you in advance.

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Best answer by BrendanDB 8 August 2023, 12:09

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  1. You’re very early to plan your journey. No single timetable for 2024 has been published yet. From Octobre 2023, they will gradually start to appear. Some countries (like Spain, France, only publish timetables a couple of months before. France usually 4 months, Spain and Italy 2 months, sometimes less.
    The big timetable change is every year, on sunday around Decembre 10. (But usually timetables are quite similar as the year before. Pick a date somewhere next week, to see what you can expect train connection wise). You best make your seat reservations 2-3 months in advance.
  2. When crossing 3 countries or more with quite long distances (which seems to be the case for your group), Eurail is in 95% of the cases very good value. Especially if you value flexibility.
  3. There are a lot of tips and tricks we can give to minimise reservation cost. Some trains have an extortionate reservation fee (like Thalys, TGV Lyria, but these are quite easy to avoid). Anything more than +/- 10 EUR per seat reservation is a lot and you should ask here for alternatives.
  4. You’re not travelling in high season, there will be plenty of availability. Trains have huge capacity and are in general very frequent. Only for Thalys (soon Eurostar red, high speed between Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris) this might be a bit limited, but these trains are very easy to avoid by travelling via slightly slower trains and the TGV from Lille.
  5. If you book al your seat reservations together, you’ll be seating together, or at least close together. There are seats in bays of 4 and per 2 (in 2nd class). In 1st you have solo seats, two seats next to each other, bays of 2 or bays of 4. On most long distance train you’ll have a bar or restaurant to come together as a group.

As you still have plenty of time to plan, please familiarise yourself with Europe’s rail system via this website:

https://www.seat61.com/european-train-travel.htm

https://www.seat61.com/how-to-use-a-eurail-pass.htm

And the country specific pages on the website of the man in seat 61 (The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy).

Thank you for your reply BrendanDB.

I agree we are very early; still researching and this is part of that research I guess :)

I appreciate you addressing my concerns. You have certainly cleared a few things up for me. 

I only just discovered this Eurail forum and I think, if we do decide to go with Eurail, I will definitely be finding many answers on here!!! 

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