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A Backpackers Dilemma - Deciding Between a Rail Pass and a Bus Pass

People who are backpacking Europe often have trouble deciding between getting a rail pass, or a bus pass. Some people have specific tastes, and usually just rattle off whichever one they like the most. But let's analyze the difference between two passes. With this, you can at least see how to compare passes, so you pick the perfect one for your trip.

Say we're planning a trip through western Europe, France, Germany, Belgium etc.

Let's compare a Eurail Select Pass Youth, which is a rail pass that works within 3-5 countries with a Busabout Northern Loop Pass, which is a bus pass that covers 12 cities in Western and Northern Europe.


The First thing most people look at is the cost of the pass, and many people pick their pass only by the listed price. But let's see if that's really wise, or if there are things the passes don't cover.

A BusAbout Flexitrip: Essentially any 6 sections on their route -- $356.00 Eurail Select Pass 4 Countries Youth (6 travel days) -- $339.00

So the Eurail pass for the same amount of travel days is actually cheaper than the flexible bus pass. But if you do a full "Northern Loop" on the Busabout, you see 12 cities, so you would need 12 travel days unless you saw more than one city in a day. However, the Eurail Select Pass has a maximum of 10 travel days

Comparing those:

Northern Loop (1 loop, 12 cities) -- $434.00 Eurail Select Pass Youth 4 Countries (10 travel days) -- $449.00

So one loop is a little bit cheaper and you are able to see two more cities than with a Eurail pass. But what if you don't want to see all of the cities on the loop? What if instead of seeing Stuttgart, you would rather go to Freiburg?

In that case, you would have to take the bus to Stuttgart then buy a ticket from Stuttgart to Freiburg. Bahn.de, Germany's national rail company, shows that a ticket from Stuttgart to Freiburg is 43 Euros each way.

So to go to Freiburg instead of Stuttgart would cost an extra $120+, whereas with a Eurail Pass it wouldn't cost anything extra.

So unless you really want to see all the cities that a pass like the BusAbout hits, you're probably best getting a rail pass that's more flexible, if only a tiny bit cheaper.

Chris Pasakarnis


Source: www.articlecity.com