Is a rail pass necessary?? Not necessarily, it depends on where you go and how long you're traveling for. Try calculating point-to-point tickets for each segment of your trip and comparing those prices to the cost of a pass. I would say in general, at least in my experience, the Eurail Pass was an excellent investment and it saved us a lot of money.
There are several different types of Eurail passes with varying fares, but we settled on a Global Flexi Pass, which covered all 22 countries, and gave us a choice of 10 (non-consecutive) travel days within 2 months. There are also consecutive passes available which range anywhere from 15 days to 3 months of unlimited travel. However I opted for the Flexi pass since I knew we weren't going to be traveling every day, and it gave us room to change our itinerary around, which we did end up doing. We also qualified for a Youth Pass, which is a discounted fare for those under the age of 26 for 2nd class seats. At the time I purchased the rail passes, they were $525 each (10-days in 2 months Global Flexi Pass), but currently they are $577 on the Eurail website. For those of you purchasing your railpass at the end of the year, I had read online that Eurail passes get more expensive starting Jan.1st, so it's better to buy your passes before the year is over. I'm not sure how true this is since I have noticed the prices change quite frequently because of the exchange rate, but I did buy my passes right at the end of December just to be safe.
|Eurail Pass Ticket|
|Eurail Pass and Travel Log|
Reservation fees are also something you need to keep in mind when you're using a rail pass. Reservations are not necessary on all trains, but some do require reservations. Deutche Bahn is an excellent site to find train time tables and to plan your route! They also have a free android app which I used a ton in Europe. This site will indicate which segments of your trip require reservations. Most reservations fees were quite small, and some didn't require any. Here's a breakdown by country:
Intercity (IC) Trains (2nd class)- 3 euros
Frecciarossa (Eurostar AV)- 10 euros
Thalys (To Brussels)- 23 euros
So those were the countries that had mandatory train reservations. I have to admit, despite paying a bit more to reserve a seat, I think it's worth it, especially on busier routes. Waking through four train cars trying to find an open seat kind of sucks, and there was at least one time where we had to stand until a seat opened up.
Anyway, if you're planning to go to Europe or thinking about buying a Eurail Pass I hope you found this post helpful. As always, if you have any questions feel free to comment below!
Some helpful links: