There’s no denying that Europe has been a hot spot this summer. With COVID-19 restrictions loosened in most of the destinations, tourists have been flocking to the continent to get their travel fix in. Inbound visitors have neared pre-pandemic numbers and it’s expected to be a popular choice for months to come. If you’re planning a trip soon, one of the best ways to move around from one country to the next is via train.
Trains not only mean you get to skip long security lines at the airport, but you’ll also depart and arrive from the heart of any given town or city. Most stations are centrally located, which means less time and money spent on taxis and more time exploring. Plus, some offer scenic routes that you would otherwise not have the opportunity to see. For those who plan on getting around by train, the Eurail Global Pass provides flexible travel to 33 countries and can be a money saver. While these passes were traditionally printed on paper, there’s now a mobile version with an accompanying app for convenience. Now, if you’re considering whether or not to purchase one or have already done so, there are a few things to keep in mind. To help you with this, I’ve outlined some key points when it comes to the Eurail mobile pass and app.
1. Duration and Class Options
There are 10 Global Passes to choose from, starting from as little as four travel days in one month up to unlimited train rides for three months. Once you’ve chosen the best duration that fits your trip, you’ll have the option of either a first- or second-class ticket. These only matter when it comes to high-speed trains that have different classes of coaches, but the former provides access to both first- and second-class coaches while the latter are only valid for second-class coaches. A first-class pass will naturally cost more ($263 versus $198 for a four-day pass), but you’ll have the added comforts of wider seats and less-crowded cars.
Local trains don’t require reservations, but if you’re mostly traveling on high-speed or sleeper trains, you’ll need to book a seat. This can be done through Eurail’s platform, sometimes through the train company’s platform, or at the station. If you’re booking online, a nominal service fee is typically added to the seat reservation fee while purchasing them in person will just incur the latter. Reservations unfortunately can’t be made through the Rail Planner app and if you’re booking them through Eurail’s website, keep in mind that they’re also not integrated into the company’s app, meaning you’ll have to show both your mobile pass and the reservation ticket to the staff on the train.
3. Last-Minute Planning
Spontaneous travelers benefit the most from Eurail’s Global Pass because just like flights, train tickets get more expensive the closer you book them to the travel date. For example, the Eurostar between London and Paris start around $60 (or less during special promotions) when you plan in advance, but if you’re waiting until the last minute they can skyrocket upwards of $200. With that being said, train companies only allot a certain amount of reserved seats on high-speed trains for pass holders, so you could potentially run into the problem of no available seats, particularly during high season. If this happens, it’s always worth checking every day leading up to your desired departure as there may be cancellations or pass seats added if travelers aren’t booking them for the full price.
4. Adding Friends or Family Members
If you’re traveling with friends or family members that are also using the Eurail Global Pass, link your accounts and select all passengers when booking reservations so that you can be seated together, or at least as close to one another as possible on packed trains. Otherwise, you may end up several coaches apart.
5. Data-Free Access
If you’ve decided to not add an international data plan to your mobile phone and don’t have access to Wi-Fi on the train, fret not. Thankfully, the app is designed so that you’ll still be able to pull up the Global Pass on your device. You can also view timetables offline should you want to do some planning while you don’t have signal.
6. The App Can Crash
Reviewers have reported mishaps with the Rail Planner app where it will crash or erase all saved trips for your journey. There’s unfortunately no way to recover them, so you’ll have to add all of your upcoming train rides back into the app.
7. Is the Eurail Global Pass Worth It?
If you’re only traveling throughout one country, no. In that case, the company’s One Country Pass might be a better fit. If you’re visiting multiple countries, then possibly. It all depends on the routes that you’re taking and how far in advance you book your trains. The best way to determine whether or not you’ll save money is to calculate all of the prices with and without the pass and compare. But if you’re a last-minute traveler, then the answer is most likely yes.