When Eurail Isn’t A Deal
When I spent 6 weeks in Switzerland in 2007, one of my splurges was a SwissPass. It gave me unlimited travel on all Swiss trains, buses, cable cars, you name it. I didn’t save much money on big tickets because I mostly stayed put, but where I did save money was on my constant bus rides and cable cars once I was in the Lauterbrunnen valley. While I was living in Gimmelwald, I had to take a cable car to go to the closest grocery store (seriously!), and that would have cost me $15 every time without my SwissPass. I went into Interlaken from Gimmelwald several times as well, and without my pass, each trip would have cost me around $100 (because I had to take a cable car, a bus, a train, and then another bus to get there). It was definitely a bargain.
However, when I looked at getting even just a 3-4 day pass for France, I was shocked that it was going to run me $425. I can’t really afford that kind of expense up front, so I decided to just wing it and hope for the best when it comes to rail travel.
That has turned out be a very good decision. I had tried searching for fares on Rail Europe, the English-language site for train travel in Europe, but many of my searches turned up empty. I was searching for routes that I knew existed, so I got frustrated and eventually decided to get Marc to help me look directly at the SNCF (the French train system) site. What a difference! It was actually far easier to use than Rail Europe, and I found all my fares, even between minor towns.
The best news is that all four of my train tickets will cost me a grand total of $247!
Now, it’s entirely possible that the prices I’ve seen will change by the time I get there or will be different in the station, but if they’re anywhere near what I’ve seen so far, I will be saving a bundle by not going with a Eurail pass. So, the moral of the story is that if you know even roughly where you’re going to be traveling between, check the fares before you go with a pass! It might just be cheaper!
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