Validating a Eurail Pass

validating a Eurail pass

So, you’ve decided to buy a Eurail pass for your trip to Europe. Smart move. If you’re anything like me, now you are spending your days staring at the map of Europe and train schedule that came with your Eurail pass imagining all the possibilities that lie before you.

Could I pull off Paris to Portugal in a week? What would Poland be like this time of year? I wonder if I could take a train down the entire coast of Italy?

Yep, daydreaming about riding the rails in Europe can keep you busy for weeks (or months) leading up to your trip. In the midst of all that daydreaming though, a few questions about your Eurail will inevitably pop up, I know they did for me. Of all the questions, the one I wondered about the most was:

How do you go about validating a Eurail pass again?

In the middle of the packet of information they send you, you will find a little note about how the pass “can not be used under any circumstance for travel until it is validated”, or something else equally scary. Trying to figure out all the perceived ins and outs of validating a Eurail pass was the one thing that had me a little confused and/or nervous about my Eurail pass when I set off for my first trip.

validating a Eurail pass

So, if you are a little concerned about validating your Eurail pass, I am here to calm your nerves. Why? Well, because …

it is simple.

Seriously, validating a Eurail pass could’t be easier. Don’t even sweat it for half a second, because validating a Eurail pass is as easy as 1,2,3.

First, walk in to the first train station you see in Europe.

Second, find the place where they are selling tickets and stand in line.

Third, when it’s your turn, simply ask the ticket attendant to validate your pass.

About the only that could get in the way would be if you slipped and fell on your way to the ticket line. Now, I would totally recommend learning how to say “can I validate this Eurail pass, please” in the local language just to be polite. This way, you are sure to get a smile with your service and you will be on your way on your first train feeling all travelly.

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Should I Buy a Eurail Pass / European Rail Pass?

Should I buy a Eurail Pass/European Rail Pass?

From time to time, I get asked about various aspects of travelling in Europe. A ton of questions have to do with Oktoberfest, and I addressed the majority of those over here on my Oktoberfest post. A good percentage of the rest have to do with the Eurail pass and whether or not they are a good deal. And in the first of a series of posts on the subject, today I am going to address the broad over-arching question I usually receive, and that is simply: should I buy a Eurail pass/European rail pass when I go to Europe?

My answer is almost always yes. Why? Three words: First. Class. Freedom.

I’ve purchased a Eurail pass four times now, and what I’ve discovered in my experience is that if you are willing to do your research and plan every detail of your trip ahead of time, it can be slightly cheaper to buy point-to-point train tickets online instead of buying a Eurail pass.

So, why buy a Eurail pass then Scott? Well, because buying a Eurail pass buys you freedom, and you can’t put a price on freedom. A Eurail pass buys you freedom from lines at ticket counters, freedom from hustling to internet cafes to print up tickets, and most importantly, the freedom to change your plans if you see fit.

Don’t underestimate the importance of that last one.

Should I Buy a Eurail Pass / European Rail Pass?

If you oversleep for your train because you were out late partying (not that I would know or anything), you just catch the next one. If you hear about a cute medieval village overlooking a river from another traveler and decide to see it for yourself, you massage your plans to squeeze it in. If you’re travelling through Italy, and decide you want to hop off the train in Pisa and take a selfie with the Leaning Tower, you can just go for it without getting any grief from your purchased-ahead-of-time-plans.

The bottom line is having a Eurail pass frees you from having to make decisions between chasing your travel dreams and tossing money you have already spent out the train window.

Now I understand that a lot of people will have their European travel itinerary completely planned weeks and months in advance of their trip, and aren’t going to wander around Europe all willy-nilly. So, should they still get a pass? Yes, for two main reasons. First, even if you know the exact route you want to travel, do you really want to decide months ahead of time what time you want to head to the train station? Well, the cheap fares are going to be for specific train times only. The other huge thing about Eurail passes is that you get to ride in 1st class if you are over 26, and this small little perk is worth its weight in gold. It’s just a little thing, but it can make all the difference between a decent train ride and a great one. Trust me, there is nothing more relaxing then stretching out in a nearly-empty 1st class cabin watching the European countryside glide by.

Should I Buy a Eurail Pass / European Rail Pass?

For me, a good general rule is that if you plan on travelling by train on at least half of the days your going to be in Europe, it is more than worth it to buy a pass. For example, if you are planning on being in Europe for two weeks and your itinerary will have you travelling during 6-7 of them, just buy the pass instead of booking all those tickets ahead of time. Even if the pass costs a little more than buying them ahead of time, the freedom you have at your disposal and the first class experience you’ll receive more than makes up for it.

Any hardcore online breakdown I have ever seen of the costs of Eurail pass versus buying point-to-point tickets usually shows them around the same price in the end. But it’s the intangibles that make the Eurail pass worth it. Now of course there are all kinds of exceptions but this advice is meant mostly for people who want to see a few countries in one trip over a couple weeks or longer. If that’s you, then just buy a Eurail pass, and I’ll see you in the bar car.