travelling through europe

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shires666

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looking into planning a european traveelling adventure looking into buying an interail pass has anybody got any experience with these and know of any restrictions on these?
 
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Oscar

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know of any restrictions on these
Yes, many. You have to reserve (and pay for such a reservation) to travel on many trains. Interrail can be good value in certain countries, such as Switzerland, where no supplements are required but very bad value in countries like France and Italy where supplements are required. You will also get no discount off Eurostar non-flexible fares. You can also only get either Interrail One Country passes for several days in a month or Global (i.e. all of Europe) passes. With more details of your plans we could certainly give you some advice as to which ticket(s) would be most appropriate.
 

33056

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With reference to Switzerland, you also have to bear in mind that Interrail is not valid for free travel on many of the private operators though some of them give a 50% discount for InterRail pass holders. If you want to do just Switzerland then a Swiss Pass would be a better bet.

The official InterRail site is HERE , if you browse through the various countries it should tell you what trains / companies in each one the pass is valid on and what types of train have mandatory reservations.
 

Oscar

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Swiss Pass would be a better bet.
True if you want to use private railways not included in Interrail or if you want to travel every day when you're there (but not if you only want to travel a few days in a month and avoid private lines not included in Interrail).
Other countries in the category where hardly any reservations are required include Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Seat 61 and Interrail are both good for finding out about this kind of thing.
 

MarkyMarkD

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seat61 is a great site.

Inter-rail has gone down in its effectiveness colossally over the years.

I Inter-Railed 20+ years ago and didn't pay any supplements in an entire month, other than a very small one for a very comfortable couchette in Yugoslavia (as it then was). The point of it being a single up-front payment for free and easy travel is rather spoilt by the current system.

I am likely to do the equivalent in India in the next few years. It is amazingly cheap, and sleepers are included at no extra cost. It is, however, necessary to reserve almost everything because Indian trains are so busy - they are booked up months in advance in many cases - but obviously you can travel an amazing distance in a month (or a few weeks). The biggest drawback is the cost of the flights to India which, although very variable in price, are never exactly cheap.
 

Greenback

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seat61 is a great site.
I couldn't agree more. It's helped me a great deal over the last few years.

Inter-rail has gone down in its effectiveness colossally over the years.
Again, I agree. Mostly this is because some countires wnated to withdraw from the pass as they felt their trains were getting used far more than the revenue allocation they received.

I Inter-Railed 20+ years ago and didn't pay any supplements in an entire month, other than a very small one for a very comfortable couchette in Yugoslavia (as it then was). The point of it being a single up-front payment for free and easy travel is rather spoilt by the current system.
Yes, I went in 1986 and didn't pay one supplement (I didn't go to Yugoslavia!). I used an awful lot of international trains, both by night and by day, and never needed a supplement or even a seat reservation.

From what I have read, it would not be possible to do the same thing today.
 

MarkyMarkD

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Mostly this is because some countires wnated to withdraw from the pass as they felt their trains were getting used far more than the revenue allocation they received.
That's a rather sad reason. When I went it was a requirement to keep a record book of all the journeys made, which could easily have been used for revenue allocation if they felt like it. Even without that it can't be SO hard to get a reasonable and fair basis of allocation.
 

Greenback

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That's a rather sad reason. When I went it was a requirement to keep a record book of all the journeys made, which could easily have been used for revenue allocation if they felt like it. Even without that it can't be SO hard to get a reasonable and fair basis of allocation.
That's what I recall being claimed, my source being various railway magazines, but it was quite a few years ago now. I don't know the in's and out's, but it may well have been that the travel diaries did reveal that more journeys being made in France/Italy/Spain, but the other countries would not agree to any changes being made.

Anyway, a compromise was reached which meant that Euro Domino (as they were then) tickets were introduced for each country, and Inter Rail was split into zones. This has contributed to the current situation, where inter-rail tickets are not considered such good value as the universal pass I got 26 years ago which was valid in 26 (I think) countries and cost me £120 for a calendar month!
 

Mark_Lester

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There are sleeper supplements absolutely everywhere now. In Scandinavia, also Spain, these are proper dear, but you'll still need them even in the Balkans. i.e. Interail covers the basic ticket, but not the bed.
And yes, you get basically nothing off Eurostar or Thalys.

To give you an idea, the European trip below is going to cost about £1,000 even on a pass, i.e. the supplements are almost double again what the pass costs (we are getting a sleeper virtually every night).

There are people in here who have travelled on just about any railway you could possibly think of. My advice would be, now you know the sleeper supplements are going to cost roughly £40 a hit (more north, less south) is have a think about what you want to do, read seat61 top to bottom, and then come and ask some specifics.

The only way you are going to be able to roll around Europe for free on an interail these days though is to travel during the day and dont catch super flashy high speed trains.

Sorry for the bad news.

P.S. re India, though it's true that you have to work out what you are going to do before you do it if you want to get sleepers, as there are tourist quotas you should be able to book almost anything with just a few weeks to spare, as long as there are just a few of you, and certainly if it's just you.
Also, while Shankar (Mr IndRail) will insist that you will have to pay extra if you change your mind, our experience was that you can walk into a booking office at a major station and just book, but of course dont expect to get on tomorrow's train.
 

33056

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That's a rather sad reason. When I went it was a requirement to keep a record book of all the journeys made, which could easily have been used for revenue allocation if they felt like it. Even without that it can't be SO hard to get a reasonable and fair basis of allocation.
The global InterRail still comes with that book and you are meant to fill it out, but I can count on my fingers the number of times that any of my numerous InterRails have been correctly "gripped" or the journey log even looked at. They try and encourage you to return it (post free) so that revenue can be apportioned but there is no compulsion to do so.

Though I agree that the product has become less attractive over the years, I still think it represents outstanding value if you want to use it to it's full extent and are prepared to work round compulsory reservation trains (rather difficult in France and Spain).
 

MarkyMarkD

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To give you an idea, the European trip below is going to cost about £1,000 even on a pass, i.e. the supplements are almost double again what the pass costs (we are getting a sleeper virtually every night).
Maybe you aren't prepared to rough it as much as we did 20 year ago? We slept on a lot of trains (maybe 10+ days), and only had a couchette once in a month. But in those days most of the trains had compartments, with seats which pulled across to make the equivalent of a super-king sized double bed. We got on trains at the origin, and hogged a whole compartment by getting into our sleeping bags instantly and scaring away any other intending passengers. ;)

P.S. re India, though it's true that you have to work out what you are going to do before you do it if you want to get sleepers, as there are tourist quotas you should be able to book almost anything with just a few weeks to spare, as long as there are just a few of you, and certainly if it's just you.
Also, while Shankar (Mr IndRail) will insist that you will have to pay extra if you change your mind, our experience was that you can walk into a booking office at a major station and just book, but of course dont expect to get on tomorrow's train.
I was certainly going to talk to Mr IndRail himself! I hope to get a LOT of sleepers as it keeps the cost down and also gets the travelling done without spending the whole of every day on trains. I will probably be travelling +2 so will try to get a lot (or all) booked up in advance - I know that I'll probably get fed up with having to move on from somewhere really interesting, but that's the sacrifice for doing it (relatively) on a shoestring.

PS Mark - I'd seen your GCIRC site a while ago when considering the Indian rail pass thing - it's a great site and lots of interesting info on there. Thanks!
 
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Greenback

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Maybe you aren't prepared to rough it as much as we did 20 year ago? We slept on a lot of trains (maybe 10+ days), and only had a couchette once in a month. But in those days most of the trains had compartments, with seats which pulled across to make the equivalent of a super-king sized double bed. We got on trains at the origin, and hogged a whole compartment by getting into our sleeping bags instantly and scaring away any other intending passengers. ;)
We never used a couchette once, nor did we use sleeping bags on the train. We just stretched out and went to sleep as we were!

Those old compartments were superb though, especially as there wer ethree of us and we ended up with a 'bed' each!

Ah, those were the days! :D
 

Mark_Lester

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Maybe you aren't prepared to rough it as much as we did 20 year ago? We slept on a lot of trains (maybe 10+ days), and only had a couchette once in a month. But in those days most of the trains had compartments, with seats which pulled across to make the equivalent of a super-king sized double bed. We got on trains at the origin, and hogged a whole compartment by getting into our sleeping bags instantly and scaring away any other intending passengers. ;)
30 years ago I would have done the same.
I was certainly going to talk to Mr IndRail himself! I hope to get a LOT of sleepers as it keeps the cost down and also gets the travelling done without spending the whole of every day on trains. I will probably be travelling +2 so will try to get a lot (or all) booked up in advance - I know that I'll probably get fed up with having to move on from somewhere really interesting, but that's the sacrifice for doing it (relatively) on a shoestring.

PS Mark - I'd seen your GCIRC site a while ago when considering the Indian rail pass thing - it's a great site and lots of interesting info on there. Thanks!
IMHO
Just give yourself a full day in any Indian city, frankly that should be enough, and for Christ's sake go ACII. If you want to spend significant time off the train, dont do it in a big Indian city.
 

PR1Berske

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.......Well this thread has successfully killed off another of my "What to do now I'm the wrong side of 30" dreams.
 

Essexman

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I've used InterRail several times in the last few years for business trips to Italy. It's more expensive than booking advance tickets but other than the trains in & out of Italy, and TGV / Thalys (which I try to avoid if I can), I've managed to avoid paying supplements. If using a sleeper it seems less good value, especially if you want a single berth.
I use InterRail for the flexibility of being able to vary the route / train as I wish, so get to see more of Europe and its trains.
 

Capybara

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I guess the answer to the original question is to think about what it is you want to do and then work out how best to do it. For example, if you want to visit places a long way apart, using the fastest transport available and travelling overnight then you are going to attract a lot of supplements using Inter Rail so you might want to think about doing it another way. On the other hand if you want to travel by day, and don't mind how long it takes, and want flexibility to change your plans on the way then Inter Rail is fine. I've come to Inter Rail late in life and have used one in each of the last three years, mostly in Benelux, Germany and Austria but with forays into other bordering countries. I've never paid a supplement. And I actually quite enjoy travelling for most of the day. Bear in mind also that almost all ICEs don't require a supplement these days so you can get from one end of Germany to another quite easily in a day's travel. I've never had trouble with ticket checks - only once did the guard not know what to do (on my very first journey disconcertingly) on over 100 trains, but on only three occasions have they required a full check (they are supposed to check your passport). As for Eurostar, you can't use Inter Rail on it anyway as you can't travel in your own country. They do, apparently, offer a limited number of cheap tickets for Inter Rail travellers but you can usually undercut that by planning and booking your arrival and departure well in advance anyway.

In other words, what he just said :)
 
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Techniquest

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I read through seat61's advice on Inter-Railing last night and it sure put me off bothering with a multi-country pass. All those supplements, all that planning, no ta. Less of a problem with single country passes by the looks of it, some better than others. Denmark doesn't have many supplement-attracting trains it appears, Germany isn't too bad either.

I'm nearly the 'wrong' side of 30 myself, a scary thought, and I sure couldn't do Europe on sleepers every night. I'd need hotel rooms for the modern day necessities like charging phone/camera/camcorder, Internet, a decent night's sleep, a shower and all that. I'd like to do one sleeper journey I suppose for the experience, but I'd probably be awake all night on it anyway like I usually am on sleeper trains! Necessary for correct logging of route, mileage and motive power in my mind.

Still, I really want to do massive journeys like The Trans Siberian and Amtrak's The South West Chief for the experience. The mileage and the on-board experience would be worth it, although I think for the former trip I'd fly over then tain it back.
 

Mark_Lester

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Modern European trains, certainly sleepers, have loads of power points.
Just about all sleepers in western Europe have showers (apart from, of course, the two in the UK), in theory even the ones in and out of Istanbul I believe though in practice we're just happy they are still running overnight services.

On the trans sib
There are no showers unless you go 1st.
There is one powerpoint point per carriage apparently.
It costs over 800 bucks to spend less than a week on the trans-sib in questionable comfort, not including the cost of getting to, and then getting into, Moscow. The visa alone isnt going to give you any change out of $200. i.e. it costs more than a 1st class European wide Interrail for a month to do the trans-siberian (oh, there's a Chinese visa too of course, burn another Benjamin).

It costs less than double the price of the basic trans-sib fare (not including all the visas and being fleeced in Moscow) to do this http://gcerc.wordpress.com, which will take us almost 3 times as long, ride on dozens of the most spectacular and/or high tech trains on the planet, and beat the living daylights out of the trans-sib as an experience in every conceivable dimension.

In short, if you think you can handle the trans-sib without being bored senseless, then by comparison Europe is just way too comfortable, interesting and cheap to bother with, and India costs a pittance, even in ACII (that in effect means 1st class) and is still more comfortable.
 

hluraven

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I did InterRail about 10 years ago, and the only supplements were for sleepers or occasional express trains. Given the sleepers were good to avoid paying for a hotel, the supplement pretty much kills off the financial benefit.

I recently looked into re-doing InterRail and found it a bit more expensive on day trains than I expected, as I was planning mostly hotels anyway I didn't expect the large amount (in cost and frequency) of supplements, but was mostly looking at France/Spain/Italy which sounds the worst bet for them.
 

PR1Berske

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For the most part, the "true" pan-European experience is not something you can do at my age or above

Once you hit a certain point at, near or around 30, forget it, I think that's the summary of this thread.
 

Mark_Lester

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For the most part, the "true" pan-European experience is not something you can do at my age or above

Once you hit a certain point at, near or around 30, forget it, I think that's the summary of this thread.
we are all over 40. If it's possible to get any more pan European than what we are doing then we'd like to know about it.

Trans-sib = £1,300 plus food. Takes a week and is a trial of endurance.
GCERC = £1,200 plus food. Takes 17 days and I guarantee everyone on it will want to do something like it again.
 

junglejames

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Talking of Interrail, and compulsory reservation fees. Which of these trains have extra fees, and which just have compulsory (free) reservations?
RailJet (Zurich to Vienna)
Bologna to Munich Eurocity
Zurich to Milan, Basel to Milan and Geneva to Milan pendolino
Berlin to Prague and Prague to Vienna Eurocity
Pendolinos between Rome and Milan/ Bologna
Daytime trains between Rome and Palermo (I know the sleepers cost extra)
TGVs between Paris and Geneva/ Milan
X2000s between Copenhagen and Stockholm
ICEs through Germany and upto Copenhagen

Intending to travel around Europe a bit sometime in the future, and one of my perhaps odd planned trips, is Palermo to Narvik! Sleeper to Rome, Pendolino to Milan, then Basel, sleeper to Copenhagen, X2000 to Stockholm, then sleeper to Narvik

I sometimes think Im perhaps a tad mad!!
 

Oscar

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There is a complete list here:
http://www.interrailnet.com/planning/train-seat-reservations/reservation-fees
For virtually all of the trains around Germany / Austria there will be no compulsory reservations (except night trains) whereas for virtually all of the trains you are interested in around France/Italy and the X2000 there will be compulsory reservations. For the night trains there will be substantial fees. You will have to pay for virtually all reservations you make, whether they are compulsory or not.
 

junglejames

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There is a complete list here:
http://www.interrailnet.com/planning/train-seat-reservations/reservation-fees
For virtually all of the trains around Germany / Austria there will be no compulsory reservations (except night trains) whereas for virtually all of the trains you are interested in around France/Italy and the X2000 there will be compulsory reservations. For the night trains there will be substantial fees. You will have to pay for virtually all reservations you make, whether they are compulsory or not.
Cheers. Will take a look. I knew the ones around France/ Italy would have needed them, but wasnt sure on the services running between Switzerland and Italy. I know ive used them with no reservations on a Swiss Pass within the Swiss borders.
 

Oscar

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You do need a 10€ reservation to travel on these trains from Italy but not for travel within Switzerland or from Switzerland to Domodossola (or v.v.). The situation is similar with the Paris - Switzerland TGVs - you don't need reservations on any trains at all within Switzerland but you need reservations for Switzerland - Italy and Switzerland - France journeys.
 

junglejames

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Wow! With some of those fees, I think my plans may change. I wasnt expecting an extra 75 Euros on top of a 1st class Interrail ticket to get from Paris to Milan.
Will scrap the idea of the sleeper down to Palermo as well. Just use the Intercity trains, and not bother with attempting Palermo to Narvik.
I can hack most of the other fees. 10 Euro here and there is still a good enough saving, and its only really between Switzerland and Italy. Gives me an excuse to stick with Swedens Intercity trains as well, which I always thoroughly enjoy.

Will still use the City Nightline sleeper a couple of times. 110 Euro extra was acceptable(ish) if kept to a minimum!!
Just not sure whether to wait until im down in Switzerland/ Italy before starting the Interrail. It would probably be cheaper to get a cheap standard class single on the TGV sections, but I refuse to go Standard on the TGVs with that god awful interior design.
 

Oscar

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I wasnt expecting an extra 75 Euros on top of a 1st class Interrail ticket to get from Paris to Milan.
I recently bought a single on a direct Milano P. G. - Paris Lyon train in First Class for just 55€ and I am aware that these Mini fares start at 45€ in First Class. I'm afraid that you would probably be better off buying cheap singles in advance for travel in France / Italy than using Interrail and supplements. If Interrail works out as good value for travel in Germany / Sweden, you could always buy a pass for a shorter period of time and use it in these countries only. Note though that X2000 (and Intercity) trains do also offer very good value singles on certain trains when bought in advance. I know that the freedom of Interrail sounds great but with such significant extra costs it often does not represent good value for money.
 

junglejames

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I recently bought a single on a direct Milano P. G. - Paris Lyon train in First Class for just 55€ and I am aware that these Mini fares start at 45€ in First Class. I'm afraid that you would probably be better off buying cheap singles in advance for travel in France / Italy than using Interrail and supplements. If Interrail works out as good value for travel in Germany / Sweden, you could always buy a pass for a shorter period of time and use it in these countries only. Note though that X2000 trains do also offer very good value singles on certain trains when bought in advance. I know that the freedom of Interrail sounds great but with such significant extra costs it often does not represent good value for money.
Cheers for that Oscar.
Will definitely get singles for the TGV legs then. Its just the start and finish of the trip as well. Planned to start off by going Paris to Milan, and on way home, Milan to Geneva to Paris.
I did look at seperate passes for the different countries, but I will still be touching quite a few countries (Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, possibly touching Hungary briefly), and with the fees (excluding sleepers) now just confined really to about 4 or 5 trains between Switzerland, Milan and Rome, I think the whole of Europe pass will still be the best option. Will look into it in more detail at some stage though.

The X2000 is a fantastic train, and will take 1 trip on it, but with it being in the middle of the trip, a supplement will be best.
 
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