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Post-College EuroTrip

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    popnbrown
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    So main issues with transportation:

    - I was wondering how the Eurail Pass works. If I were to get the 4 country 8 day, would I be able to use it on any 8 days or on 8 consecutive days. If consecutive I think a 10 day pass b/w Benelux/Germany/Austria/Italy, might be more useful. – I originally had a question about flights, and I couldn’t find anything lower than $150, but I found a $50 from Bordeaux to Brussels. – I’m thinking of driving from Nice through Provence down to Barcelona and back up to Bordeaux. I was going to use half the time from Nice and Bordeaux for road-tripping (to stop over places). I’m having trouble finding a reliable quote for a car for 6 days. Any suggestions on where to look or how much it might cost? The main reason for going to Nice is to do a road-trip through Provence, and if that’s too expensive I’ll skip it and maybe spend the 2 days in Madrid instead.

    oldlady
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    1. Any 8 days within a 2 month period. A rail day is midnight to midnight and you can take as many trains as you can like during that day. A special rule means that most overnight trains only count as one day (arrival day) even though you’re traveling on two different days. The trip planner recommends buying point to point tickets for the short trips in Spain. The 10 day pass might be better, although you might be able to find low fare on-line specials for many of these routes if you’re willing buy non-refundavle tickets for specific dates and times and to put in the considerable effort involved.

    2. Rental car — you’re over 21, I hope. I’ve used Hertz, Avis and Europcar. I usually estimate twice the quoted rate to cover insurance, taxes, drop off fees and any other extras on the rental agreement. On top of that, adding a 2nd country adds significantly to the cost and picking up in one country and dropping off in another can double the cost of the rental. A second driver can also be a significant charge. Estimated total cost (Rick Steves) per week (car and all the extras already mentioned, plus fuel, tolls, parking) is $500. Manual transmission sub compact will be a bit cheaper.

    I like the idea of driving in Provence. Had access to a car when I was there and it was great. However, mountain roads and ultra aggressive (LA is positively tame by comparison) make it pretty nerve racking and a 2 person ( 1 driving , 1 navigating and spotting) job. — I would not try it solo. While I love the area and you can get around on public transit I fully agree with skipping it if you can’t either rent a car or spend more time there. Your time is really too tight for actually getting to experience the area as it is.

    Have you thought about an open jaw flight? Maybe into Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels and back out of Barcelona or Madrid? use the multi-city option on search engines. You’ll save the time and expense of getting back to Brussels and could maybe do a 1 country car rental.

    popnbrown
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    Thanks for your response. I saw after I posted that it was all messed up and not formatted well.

    1. Are rail tickets similar to airline tickets where they’d go up if I don’t book in advance? I know I have to make reservations for overnight trains, but I wasn’t going to until a couple days before to give me some more flexibility. Bad idea, good idea? Also can I book when I get there or will that be troublesome being a non-EU citizen?

    2. I’ll be 21 in 3 days I was thinking of taking it from Nice to Barcelona to Bordeaux. So I would pick-up in Nice and drop-off in Bordeaux, which would make it in country. Although, I’m getting the feeling it’s not worth it and it may be too much of a hassle especially solo. I’ll look into it a little more, and hopefully can convince a friend of mine to join me for that part. If not I’ll book it to Madrid from Florence. I’m interested in doing a wine tour and also just checking out southern France, but perhaps not in a Eurotrip, maybe in a Francetrip.

    3. Regarding your last point, the issue is I’m coming in from India, with a stop-over in Brussels. I’m basically then just using my Brussels to US flight as an open-date ticket. I’ll look into seeing if I can also maybe make it in open jaw. I’m not sure how that would change the situation for a 1 country car rental (although I guess with my clarification this can be dismissed).

    4. NEW QUESTION – I’m looking into getting a Eurail Italy Pass, since I’ll be jumping around Italy a bit, going to go to Quinte Terre, Pisa, and I’m sure there’ll be other excursions where I might want to use the local train. Is it possible to buy local train tickets without much of a hassle?

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    1. Most rail tickets sell at standard fare which is based on distance — that’s what you pay at the train station. The trip planner uses an estimate of standard fare to calculate which railpass is best. Most of the individual national rail companies sell some tickets on-line at a discount. These are non-refundable and generally go on sale 60 days in advance and sometimes sell out quickly. A railpass is probably the cheapest option if you don’t want to commit to advance purchase. Non-EU citizen won’t be a problem just buying a ticket at the station. Not being local can be an issue with on-line purchases as some of the national rail companies don’t take non-European issued credit cards on-line, others don’t have an English option for pages where you actually purchase the ticket, or otherwise do things like switch you to a travel agency (which charges higher “global fares” and usually doesn’t offer the discounted fares).

    4. I prefer NOT to use a railpass in Italy. Italian train tickets are relatively cheap and the places you’re visiting are relatively close together so it’s unlikely that a railpass will save much, if any money. It’s easy to buy tickets (which include reservation, if needed) from the automated kiosks with no waiting in line. Many Italian trains require expensive reservations which aren’t covered by the railpass. You often have to wait in line (sometimes a long line) to buy “just a reservation” to use with your railpass. While the kiosk will take your non-European credit card, you can’t use it for on-line purchases from Trenitalia, the national rail company.

    popnbrown
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    Regarding Eurail passes, I’m a little confused as to how it works. There seems to be some reservation that I need to make dependent on what train I’m riding. How does this work? (http://www.eurail.co…)

    I understand that I have to make a reservation, then pay a fee for these trains. Clearly any trains not on this list I don’t have to reserve, does that mean I also don’t have to pay a fee for those trains?

    It would kind of help if someone could walk through a sample situation where one would use the different types of train travel options provided. I’m especially curious as to how the Eurail pass works with domestic trains, and if I can use it jumping between cities without having to pay additional money.

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    Your railpass is your ticket for any train you choose to take. If you use a railpass and the specific train you take doesn’t require a reservation you just hop on the train. Your railpass serves as your ticket. While most trains don’t require reservations, the express trains between major cities often do — especially if you choose trains at peak times. All overnight trains require a reservation You’ll pay extra for the reservation regardless of whether or not you use a railpass. The ticket will cost more than the base fare for the route (because it includes the reservation) if you just buy ticket; you have to buy a sepate reservation if you use a railpass. While you can avoid reservations by taking slightly slower regional and local trains, it’s likely that you’ll end up on at least some trains since your trip is way too rushed to waste a couple of hours on slower trains or by taking trains during the middle of the day.

    One example — there are dozens of trains each day between Rome and Naples. Fastest are EurostarItalia trains with the most expensive reservation at 1 hour 10 minutes. Next fastest are inter-city trains which require a less expensive reservation at 2 hours 4 minutes. Local trains which don’t require reservation take between 2 hours 21 minutes and 4 hours. Extra time might not matter in some cases, but if you’re trying to do a day trip to Pompeii, the early morning trains all require reservations — you couldn’t do the day trip leaving Rome at 10:30 AM and taking a slower train.