As you probably already know, we love traveling by train, so there was no discussion about how we would get around Europe for the next five months. All we had to decide was whether to pay for each individual journey or get Global Passes from Eurail or InterRail. And this is where it started to get a little tricky.
The Eurail website has a guide to deciding which pass you should get but it seems that it’s not totally accurate. In general, non-European residents need to get a Eurail pass and European residents need to get an InterRail pass. But for us it wasn’t so straightforward. While I have a British passport I’m not a European resident, as I live in Thailand. This, in theory, should have meant that I needed to get a Eurail pass, but proving that I was a resident of Thailand proved more than a little difficult. I live in Thailand on a retirement visa, but for proof of residency I needed either a work or study visa or a residency card. I don’t have any of these. After discussing this with the very helpful customer services people at Eurail I was advised to get an InterRail pass, as a ticket inspector might not believe that I was a non-European resident.
It seems that the rules may also be changing this year (2015) so that which pass you need is based on your passport not residency.
Another major difference between the passes is that they cover slightly different countries. The InterRail pass is valid for 30 countries, but the Eurail pass is only good for 24. Countries excluded from the Eurail pass are:
- FYR Macedonia
- Great Britain
This isn’t ideal if you’re traveling as a couple or group with different passes.
Different Ticket Types
Another difference that is a little annoying is that the Eurail and InterRail global passes have different ticket types, so it’s not always possible to buy similar passes. Prices shown below are for 1st class adult tickets.
InterRail Global Pass Ticket Types
- 5 days within 10 days (€413)
- 10 days within 22 days (€588)
- 15 days continuous (€650)
- 22 days continuous (€760)
- 1 month continuous (€983)
Eurail Global Pass Ticket Types
- 5 days within 10 days (€364)
- 10 days within 2 months (€547)
- 15 days within 2 months (€716)
- 15 days continuous (€465)
- 21 days continuous (€598)
- 1 month continuous (€735)
- 2 months continuous (€1,034)
- 3 months continuous (€1,275)
As you can see, there is quite a lot of variation, which makes picking the passes you need more difficult than it needs to be. You’ll also notice that European residents have to pay extra, although they do get six extra countries that they can travel through. But if you’re traveling as a couple you’re really just paying extra for the same ticket, because the extra six countries aren’t much use if your other half can’t travel to them.
We eventually opted for a 1 month continuous InterRail pass for me and a 15 days within 2 months Eurail pass for Miu. I would have preferred a similar pass but it’s not available with InterRail. This means I’ll have to pay for a few extra individual journeys but overall it stills works out quite well.
We still think that these passes are the best option for traveling around Europe by train. Most people will need the same passes, so it’s likely that very few people are affected by the issue of having to get different passes. It would be great if Eurail and InterRail could be merged though. I can’t see too much point in having separate passes that only have a few differences.
Where To Buy Your Global Pass
You can buy a Eurail global pass at the Eurail website, and an InterRail global pass at the InterRail website. If you’re heading to Europe I highly recommend getting one.
Hotels In Europe
If you’re planning to travel to Europe, we suggest checking out the fantastic range of hotels at our favorite hotel booking website, Agoda.com. Don’t forget to sign up for free points, as we have had numerous free hotel stays with the points we’ve collected.