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6 replies
Eurolines
dengers
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Has anyone had experience in using Eurolines for their intercity/inter-country transportation?
http://www.eurolines…

I was looking at cheaper methods of transportation to get from country to country, seeing as the Eurail pass is a little pricey for me, and it seems like there are too many rules and regulations so I would wind up getting fined a ridiculous amount anyways.
Eurolines caters to 43 different cities, I believe, and also provides 30-day bus passes, which seems perfect because I’ll only be traveling for 30 days.
However, what worries me is that their website isn’t very clear and it’s a little tricky to navigate, and there’s no definite quote I can get for how much a 30 day pass will cost.
I did a little research on google and found this site that claims that a 30-day pass during the high season for those under 25 is only 355 Euro — very reasonable! The only catch, it seems, is that every destination has to be in a different country.

My only hesitation about this seemingly great deal is because of Eurolines’s difficult website. If anyone had any more information or personal experience with this company, feel free to let me know!

I am leaving from Paris with $4000 for 32 days
Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Munich, Florence, Nice, Montpellier, Barcelona
Don
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Curious… what rules do you find difficult about rail passes?

Looking at your itin, seems like you’d need 9 (max) travel days. Sometimes point-to-point train tickets are cheaper. Sometimes flight hops are cheaper. Bus just takes such a long time. To me, the scenery and price have to be significantly better to make bus my first choice over a train special, or—on longer distances—a flight hop.

Do you know about Busabout?

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My only experience with the Eurolines website was that I couldn’t buy the ticket I wanted on-line. As you state, the website does not inspire a lot of confidence.

Given your itinerary (Western Europe) there are other issues with taking the bus. While these issues would get me to spend the extra to take the train, they might not be a big deal to you.

1. Time: Train is almost always faster. In some places it will be twice as fast as the bus. Since your pace is pretty leisurely, that may not be a major concern, but I’d certainly rather “be someplace” than spend another 4 or 5 hours on the bus or waiting for a connection in a bus station.
2. Convenience: On some of these routes you will have 20 or more trains per day to choose from compared to maybe 3 buses. Again, this may not be a huge issue because of your pace/travel style but you are more likely to end up killing the entire day on the bus. You can pick an early morning train and have a free afternoon or an evening train and have all day to sight-see before you board traveling by train. You may not have good time options to choose on the bus. On some of these routes you may have more connections and longer layovers on the bus.
3. Station location and amenities: The train station is usually right in the heart of the city and is the major hub for all transportation in the city. There are usually full amenities at the station. The bus station is usually near the train station, so equally convenient, but frequently has no services available — perhaps an issue with long layovers. In a few places (I don’t know the locations for your cities) the bus station is remote and adds local transportation issues.
4. Comfort: Train is much more comfortable, particularly if you’re tall. My 6’1” husband and 6’2” son absolutely hate to take the bus. There’s no comparison in comfort between an overnight trip on a train and overnight on a bus. Your long trips will not be fun on the bus.
5. Creative use of the right railpass, special fares for point to point train tickets and a cheap flight or two may mean there isn’t a huge price difference.

dengers
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*Don: *I’m sorry that I can’t recall specifically, but I remember when reading about the Eurail pass, there were several extra fees tacked onto the sticker price of the pass. And when I tried to find a train on the Eurail site from Florence to Prague, it had a lot of funky layovers and ended up taking just as long as by bus. Maybe I’ve just been failing in my search, but that’s what I’ve found thus far.
If I could somehow be directed to an efficient way to find inexpensive point-to-point trains/flights, that’d be fantastic!
The only airline that I am familiar with that flys throughout Europe is Ryanair. It has proven to be rather cheap, but I find it difficult in that I don’t recognize the country of most of its destinations, so I have to look up all of the cities that Ryanair flies into (i.e. it doesn’t fly into Amsterdam, etc.)
From what I hear about Busabout, you have to follow their specific itinerary, and cannot go back to cities, but rather have to continue along their itinerary and subjected route.

oldlady: Do you know of a site to find the cheapest/most direct train routes?

My main concern is price…
I’m almost 18, and all the funds I have for this trip are completely sourced by my part time job. In short: I’m pretty strapped for cash.

I am leaving from Paris with $4000 for 32 days
Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Munich, Florence, Nice, Montpellier, Barcelona
oldlady
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The best site to find routes and schedules is the German national rail company website: http://reiseauskunft…

“Additional fees” with Eurail will be a very minor issue for your trip. The only additional fees are reservations. Reservations for most of these trips will only cost 5 euros each (more expensive in Spain and Italy) and you can avoid reservations if you’re willing to take slower regional and local trains.

There are numerous low fare airlines in Europe in addition to Ryan Air. Use www.whichbudget.com to see which low fare airlines fly which routes and check our “cheap flights” forum for more links, tips and help. Part of your transportation problem is that legs like Florence to Prague don’t make sense unless you fly. It’s nearly 16 hours with 3 connections on the fastest train. Not my idea of a reasonable trip. I doubt bus is any faster. I’d also look at flying from Barcelona to somewhere on the Riviera or somewhere in Italy.

A 10 day youth flexipass is $544 — only about $70 more than your 355 euro ($472) Eurolines pass. If you fly from Italy to Prague and Barcelona to France and by point to point tickets for the portion in Czech Rep. you can probably use an 8 day, 4 or 5 country select pass and cut the price even more. If your trip has more than 9 or 10 legs, then bus may save you real money, but taking the bus to save $2 a day for the itinerary you’ve listed wouldn’t be worth it for me.

Don
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For flight hops, also see Skyscanner.net. Ryanair is the largest, but they are far from the only game in town. Last time I counted, there were about 60 low cost airlines selling one-way flights in Europe.

Do keep in mind that trains will transport you from city center to city center, whereas flights will require transfer costs — and time — on both ends. My rule of thumb is about 5 hours. Price being similar, if train would take me 5 hours or more, I lean more toward taking a flight. Unless if the scenery will be stunning (Oslo-Bergen, for example, is a little over 6 hours by train, but worth every minute).

To check train prices and timetables from a specific country, see the thread pinned @ top of this (Transport) forum.

Also for trains, a good tool to see if rail pass or point-to-point tickets, or a combination is better, is Railsaver.com.

dengers
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Thank you two so much! I will definitely check out which legs I can cut out so I can buy a pass that’s much more affordable.

In potentially changing my route, my most expensive trips are definitely getting to/from Interlaken (Florence—Interlaken—Prague)

I’ll definitely check out the sites that you’ve mentioned.

I am leaving from Paris with $4000 for 32 days
Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Munich, Florence, Nice, Montpellier, Barcelona