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Is Eurail Worth It? Using Eurail to travel across Europe with Your Family

Is Eurail Worth It? Using Eurail to travel across Europe with Your Family

From exploring diverse landscapes across varied terrains of Europe to hopping between countries with ease and not having to worry about local driving rules, restrictions, and driving signs in other languages, traveling by train throughout Europe is the way to go.

But knowing how to use the various train systems, booking sites, using various currencies (and sometimes languages), and planning all the trips can be very overwhelming. As you plan your family vacation you mind find yourself asking- is Eurail worth it?

Eurail, the European Union’s largest network of trains, and its Global Pass, give non European travelers (like you!) access to exploring 33 countries with ease.

Eurail takes the confusion out of planning European rail planning. Their Rail Planner app and website offer families a single source of information for finding train schedules, booking tickets, and hopping aboard the vacation of your dreams. 

My family had the opportunity to explore Europe with their Eurail Global Pass this past summer, and we loved the experience, although it wasn’t without its hiccups. Let’s explore the benefits of this service.

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Is Eurail Worth it? A Comprehensive Review

Is Eurail Worth it?
St. Pancras Station in London is a hub for international departures & arrivals. Photo by Katie Bodell

Eurail Provides Connectivity Across all of Europe

North American families visiting Europe can take advantage of Eurail to plan and purchase train tickets to routes across 33 European countries. The Rail Planner app makes it easy to plan and prepare for travel; all 33 countries and their rail partners are linked together into one easy to use system. 

There are two types of passes available: The Global Pass is good for international travel to any country within their network, whereas the One Country Pass is as you would expect: valid for all rail travel within a single country. 

After looking at the map and available routes for the Global Pass, I realized that we could have gone pretty much anywhere in Europe, so we really just had to narrow our choices based on the length of our trip and how long we were able to spend in Europe. From Ireland to Italy (and yes, Eurail can even get you across bodies of water), the routes throughout Europe can take your family to over 30,000 destinations.

Top included countries for US travelers are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden. Check out the full list of countries on It really is “One Pass to explore 33 Countries”

Passes can be purchased for the number of days you need to travel, either a flexible number of days out of a month, or consecutive days, depending on whichever works best for you and your family.

For our trip to three different countries (England, Ireland, and France), we opted for the Global Pass for seven flexible travel days within a month’s time period. This meant that we could use the pass on any seven days within a 30 day period, making it possible for us to spread out our travel times between the cities that we were exploring. 

So…Is Eurail worth it for ease of use and travel across most all of Europe?

Yes! Their connected network and ease of booking across countries, languages, and currencies is amazing.

Using Eurail to travel in Europe
My three teen girls exploring London. Photo by Katie Bodell

Eurail Benefits for Families

A major selling point of the Eurail Global Pass is the benefits for families. Children under the age of four do not need a ticket or pass to ride on any and all trains across the international network! That’s right, with your littles in tow, you can literally just hop aboard as long as your child will lap sit. 

Older kids are free as well, you just need to secure them a Eurail Pass. Kids age 4-11 can use a free Child Pass that is valid on all train routes.

Two free Child Passes are available per paying adult (families with three-four kids will need two adults in order to use the free Child Passes for their entire clan). Discounted Youth Passes, up to 25% off of the adult fare, are also available for kids and young adults aged 12-27, so yes, you can even take your teens and twenty somethings.

*Note: Seat reservations are not included in the free Child Passes. If your route requires seat reservations (see “Using the Rail Planner App” below) or if you want a dedicated sleeper compartment for your child on an overnight train, those reservations are additional.

Tip: As an added bonus for families, the Eurail Pass can also be used to secure discounts at attractions, restaurants, ferries, buses, tours, and more.

So…Is Eurail worth it for saving money on kid tickets?

Yes and no. Most rail services offer similar discounts for children and young-adults, but again, finding and securing these discounts and tickets can be the tricky part. The advantage of Eurail is that you don’t have to wonder if you are following the local regulations nor search for your discount.

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Eurail trip planning
Photo Courtesy of Eurail

Using the Rail Planner App

The Rail Planner App is your go-to app for booking train tickets and checking time tables. Although the app has easy-to-use location enabled services that allow you to see what routes are nearby when you are in Europe, you’ll likely do the bulk of your planning in your home country before traveling. Simply input your starting destination (ie., an airport, etc…) and see what routes are available within the network.

When you arrive in country, simply activate your Eurail Global Pass on the app, and show the train conductor when they come through your train car. 

Some trains, especially high-speed, highly popular, and international trains, require advance seat reservations. While these reservations guarantee you a seat onboard (yay not standing!), they also have additional fees that are not included in your Eurail Global Pass. 

  • High speed trains between cities within one country often cost about €10 per person.
  • Sleeper trains average about €20 per person.
  • Popular, high-speed international routes cost an average of €15 per person.

Although these prices are the average, some rates are higher. For example, our route from London to Paris, which is high speed, international, and extremely popular during the summer months, cost €38 per person, so be sure to check the app to see if reservations are required or recommended for your route.

This planning tool on Eurail’s website is also extremely useful in determining if seat reservations are needed and what to expect for fees.

Note: If you want to save money, the regular-speed trains typically don’t require seat reservations and are therefore included in the price of your Eurail Global Pass.

Although we made reservations for many of our main traveling routes, we also utilized the pass to make impromptu trips while we were in Europe. My husband realized how close the White Cliffs of Dover are to London while we were there. We checked the train schedule and hopped on an afternoon train to the coast, at no additional cost to our family. 

So…Is Eurail worth it for the app?

Yes! Having access to the app and unlimited travel on specific days gave us freedom and opportunity to be spontaneous. Although some train partners have similar flexibility within their own systems, only Eurail gives you access to this across various train carriers and countries. It was also great to not have to download every train carrier’s app to see the train schedules; I just used the Eurail app the entire time in Europe.

Eurail train ride
Photo Courtesy of Eurail

Navigating Some Tricky Terrain

Although the Rail Planner app and Eurail passes simplify the system, any connected network of 33 countries, each offering numerous rail partners and schedules in a variety of languages, is sure to have some hiccups. Here are some of our best tips for navigating and using the Eurail Pass to its benefit. 

Is Eurail worth it or should you just book your own tickets on various train lines?

We found it extremely helpful to use the Eurail Global Pass on our most recent trip to Europe. The ticket prices are expensive, but the family discounts (including free for kids under 12 and discounts for teens) made it more reasonable than purchasing tickets on our own, even after just a few trips over the course of a month.

Having to pay for seat reservations on top of our passes was still a bargain, especially during summer months, compared to booking our train tickets individually.

As a bonus, it was lovely to have everything stored in one app and going to a single place to purchase everything, no matter what rail company we were using. That being said, if you are only using trains minimally and within a specific region, it might be cheaper and easy to book directly with an individual train company.

When should you check for seat reservations? 

For those popular, high-speed, international, and scenic routes, seat reservations may need to be made in advance. Sometimes well in advance.

I learned this the hard way, finding only a 6am Paris to London departure time for our family to leave Paris. Instead of spending our last day in Paris strolling the book stalls on the Seine (as I had imagined), we woke before dawn to wait through a long customs line and board the early train to London.

As soon as you know your travel dates, I recommend checking if seat reservations are available on the Rail Planner app, especially if you are traveling in the summer. 

Is it Better to Take the Trains or Rent a Car?

For absolute flexibility, families could of course opt to rent a car and drive, but this can be daunting in Europe. The variety of languages used on road signs, intermittent phone service and data roaming for map use, and, of course, the challenge of driving on the left-hand side of the road in some countries, make it a challenge for many to drive in Europe.

Time is also another factor in whether or not you choose to drive. Yes, Europe is dense, but it is still vast. Riding a train may save you valuable sightseeing time. For example, the drive from London to Paris takes at least six hours while high speed trains can get you there in just two.

First Class or Second Class?

When choosing your Eurail Pass, you will need to choose between First or Second Class tickets. In general, First Class tickets are what you would expect: you’ll have more room, more amenities, and more privacy. But classes and their perks vary by carrier.

On Eurostar, which we took from London to Paris, our first class tickets gave us an included breakfast, with champagne! Other first class routes offered only more room and chargers for our phones.

Are Subways Included?

Sadly, no. Subways and local rail lines operated by cities are not included in the Eurail Pass. However, if you are traveling from one point to another and your line is connected to a Subway, you might be able to use a pass for that.

In London, we were connecting to a station that used our Eurail Pass, so the gate attendant let us come through with our Eurail Pass to ride that leg for free. It never hurts to show your pass and ask

So, overall…Is Eurail worth it?

After our experience using Eurail to navigate in between three countries, it was definitely worth it to use Eurail as our single train ticket and booking provider.

Katie Bodell