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Power Sockets on Trains and a Flexi-Pass Question
Longhornmaniac8
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Hello all!

First post here! My roommate and I are doing an around the world trip next year after graduation from university, and a decent chunk of it will be spent in Western and Central Europe (time constraints really prevented us from doing Eastern Europe, though we both wanted to!).

We’re trying to plan exactly how we want to get around Europe, and although I’m starting to gather that buying a Eurail pass may not be cost effective, I’m trying to figure out some of the main differences between 1st and 2nd class.

How prevalent are power sockets on trains? I’m assuming it’s something more likely confined to 1st class, but are they pretty common in 1st class compartments, or is it hit or miss?

Is there some website that has a review of the amenities offered on European trains?

Countries/regions we’re looking at visiting: Italy, Switzerland, French Riviera, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia (?), Germany, Benelux, Scandinavia (minus Finland), Spain, Portugal.

Unfortunately, our trip is really going to be divided up into two distinct parts, since our RTW ticket has us flying from Istanbul-Madrid, before continuing on to Quito, Ecuador, so the Iberian Peninsula will be done separately from the rest of continental Europe, after we make our way over to Istanbul for a few days. This complicates doing a Eurail pass, unless we were to do a Flexi-Pass, which leads me to my next question.

I understand one of the smart ways to travel WITHOUT a pass is to purchase, for example, a train ticket from Rome to Zurich, and get off wherever we want to en-route, for example, Florence. This saves us from having to buy a ticket from Rome-Florence, and then Florence-Zurich. So when we’re ready to go from Florence-Zurich, we just show our Rome-Zurich ticket at the station, and they let us on. At least I’ve been told this works, but some conformation would be nice!

Since the Flexi-Pass is based on days, can this be “skirted” around in a similar fashion. For example, would a Rome-Zurich ticket where I stopped in Florence for a couple of days count as 1 day against my 10 or 15 (depending on which I chose), or would each boarding (i.e. in Rome and in Florence) count against my days total?

Some clarification would be awesome!

I have a feeling I’ll be spending some time around here as the day draws nearer!

Thanks in advance!

Cheers,
Cameron

I am leaving from Rome and traveling for 36 days
Florence, Venice, Milan, Monte-Carlo, Geneva, Interlaken, Zürich, Innsbruck, Vienna, Bratislava, Brno, Prague, Brussels, Amsterdam, Bremen, Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm
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Quote:
We’re trying to plan exactly how we want to get around Europe, and although I’m starting to gather that buying a Eurail pass may not be cost effective, I’m trying to figure out some of the main differences between 1st and 2nd class.
1st class costs about 1 1/2 times 2nd class. In trains where there are compartments there are 8 seats in 2nd class and 6 seats in 1st class in the same size compartment. While few trains have compartments any more, the space ratio pretty much holds true for any type of seating configuration. 1st class is less crowded because few Europeans spring for the extra cost. Most folks in 1st class are tourists with adult railpasses, retirees and other senior citizens who get special rates making 1st class about the same price as 2nd class and some business types. I’ve traveled by train in all the countries you list except Spain and Portugal and would not spring for 1st class in any of them.
Quote:
Is there some website that has a review of the amenities offered on European trains?
There’s generally information on the individual national rail company websites. The links to the ticket pages are in this post: http://www.eurotrip…. You’ll have to poke around the sites (some of which don’t have much information in English) to find out. There’s a huge variation from train to train. If you’re talking about amenities like bar cars, conveyance of bicycles, sleeping cars, you can usually figure it out by clicking on the specific train (regardless of what country you’re traveling in )on the German national rail company website: http://reiseauskunft…
Quote:
This complicates doing a Eurail pass, unless we were to do a Flexi-Pass, which leads me to my next question.
IMO, a flexi-pass is almost always a better deal than a consecutive day pass anyway.
Quote:
How prevalent are power sockets on trains? I’m assuming it’s something more likely confined to 1st class, but are they pretty common in 1st class compartments, or is it hit or miss?
Not sure whether “hit or miss” or “not all that prevalent is the better answer. The fancier name trains are more likely to have them and there are some train that advertise them, but often only in 1st class. Look up information about the specific “name” trains (e.g. TGV in France, EurostarItalia in Italy, Thalys in France and Benelux) on the individual national rail company websites.
Quote:
I understand one of the smart ways to travel WITHOUT a pass is to purchase, for example, a train ticket from Rome to Zurich, and get off wherever we want to en-route, for example, Florence. This saves us from having to buy a ticket from Rome-Florence, and then Florence-Zurich. So when we’re ready to go from Florence-Zurich, we just show our Rome-Zurich ticket at the station, and they let us on. At least I’ve been told this works, but some conformation would be nice!
Not sure how much money this will actually save since the regular fares are heavily based on distance. A Rome to Florence ticket plus a a Florence to Zurich ticket will not be much more expensive than a Rome to Zurich ticket. Also, you usually have to pay full price for the ticket to do this and you have to buy 2 separate reservations. The special prices and cheap tickets (where you can beat using a railpass) are advance-purchase tickets for a specific train (a specific date, train number and time) and don’t allow changes and refunds (or stopovers). Most full fare tickets are “good” for at least 48 hours after you start the journey, some for as long as 60 days. I have never done this. Based on how tickets are validated (self-validated at a machine on the platform or by the conductor on the train) I think you might have a problem convincing the conductor your ticket was valid on the second leg — be sure to tell the conductor who first checks and punches your ticket what you intend to do.
Quote:
Since the Flexi-Pass is based on days, can this be “skirted” around in a similar fashion. For example, would a Rome-Zurich ticket where I stopped in Florence for a couple of days count as 1 day against my 10 or 15 (depending on which I chose), or would each boarding (i.e. in Rome and in Florence) count against my days total?
A rail day is midnight to midnight. Your pass has a series of boxes — 15 if you purchased a 15 day flexi-pass. You mark the date (European format, so July 5 is 5/7, not 7/5) in a box before you board your first train that day. You can take as many trains as you like during that 24 hour period and it counts as one day — works great for things like spending the day in Salzburg on your way from Munich to Vienna. Most overnight trains only count as one day because of the special “7 PM rule.” If a train leaves after 7:00 PM and arrives after midnight it’s only counts as one day, arrival day, on your pass. In your example you would end up using 2 days as you would have already used departure day to take the train from Rome to Florence before embarking on the overnight train to Zurich, which would count as the next day.

Longhornmaniac8
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Again, sorry about just now noticing. This reply will really help me, and I will be sure to check out the link posted regarding the amenities for the trains!

It is good to know you wouldn’t spring for 1st class on the trains, since that is something we were considering doing (the 1-month Global saver 1st class fare is around $1K, whereas the Youth 2nd class 1 month Global is around $750…we were considering spending the extra $250).

The 1 month global 1st class pass is only like $25 more than the 15-days in 2 months, and that seems worth it to not have to worry about the hassle of making notes of how many days we’ve used.

Same with the Youth passes, the flexi-pass is only $15 less…

Thanks again!

Cheers,
Cameron

I am leaving from Rome and traveling for 36 days
Florence, Venice, Milan, Monte-Carlo, Geneva, Interlaken, Zürich, Innsbruck, Vienna, Bratislava, Brno, Prague, Brussels, Amsterdam, Bremen, Berlin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Bergen, Stockholm
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20 cities in 36 days will be uncomfortably rushed. 12 to 14 cities would be more reasonable.