Eurail Travel’s multi-country train passes are welcoming families to Europe with discounts, kids free deals, more flexibility and new perks that totally refresh the Eurail Pass concept. Born in 1959 and now the lovechild of 28 different countries, it’s great to see Eurail Travel expand their offerings in response to travelers’ changing needs.
And since family travelers are venturing farther this year, and returning to Europe in the highest volume seen since the Recession, Eurail’s news for the 2015 travel season could not be better or more timely for parents.
Children Under 12 Travel Free – Under 4s Are Always Free
With the launch of the new Children Travel Free initiative, Eurail is allowing adults to bring one or two children ages 4-11 along at no cost. What a great way to introduce the next generation to the joys of train travel. Minipackers from newborn to age 11 can ride for free with a family member or friend over 18 who is traveling on an Adult Eurail Pass. Since up to two children can travel free for each adult ticket purchased, this is a real boon for families whose teens want to bring along a best friend — and for single parents, too.
In more news, Rail Europe, one of the official Eurail Pass brokers, is offering a few other country specific Kids Discounts, as follows. According to their sales staff, families traveling with kids under 16 in Switzerland can book a Swiss Travel Pass and save with the Swiss Family Card, which allows ages 6-15 to travel free when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The free card should be requested when you purchase your Swiss Travel Pass. The German Rail Pass offers a free child discount, with up to two children ages 6-11 traveling free of charge with each adult. For families touring the UK, there are several BritRail Pass options where 1 child ages 5-15 may be able to travel free with an adult on a BritRail Family Pass. Additional kids 5-15 will receive a special reduced rate; check with their sales rep to be sure it’s available.
Millennials and Their Kids Treated like 1st Class Citizens
From their 2014 research, Eurail discovered that the majority of riders were not European citizens (North America accounts for 35.5% of all sales), were using the rail pass to try train travel for the very first time, were older than 26 and were often seniors. These travelers focused their trips on the major European capitals, preferred to travel in First Class, and usually didn’t travel alone. Given the data and huge increase in multigenerational travel cited by the TMS Family Travel Summit and others, it made sense that one cohort of rail passengers would be grandparents interested in travel with their grandchildren.
A significant innovation for Eurail is the new 1st Class Youth Pass, available to children or friends in the 12-to-25 age group and priced 20% less than the adult pass. Previously only available in second class, the new first-class Youth Pass stops penalizing adults who want to spoil themselves and their kids with the most comfortable transport options. Great idea, and especially well suited to fussy Millennial parents and their vocal kids.
Eurail Global Pass Expanding to Add More Countries
The rail network has gotten larger. Four Eastern European countries joined Eurail’s Global Pass offer this year. We know Croatia has been very popular, so adding service in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia will make regional travel a breeze. Adding Poland will smooth the way for families exploring Germany and the Czech Republic, since the best train service between Prague and Berlin runs through Poland.
Eurail Global Flexi Pass Becomes More Flexible
Considering that not all travelers will have time to visit all 28 countries, and that many would prefer to skip over some but continue to use the rail pass, Eurail has made their Global Pass into a more flexible Eurail Global Flexi Pass. For 2015, families can buy a 10-Day Global Pass and use it on any five days during that period, and in any country. Find a better deal on Ryanair? Fly to your destination, visit, then continue from there by rail. Want to visit Belgium, Italy and Spain but skip parts in between? You can do that too because within that 10-day period, travelers can stop in non-bordering countries of their choice.
History Buffs Can Sail or Rail Their Way around Greece
The new Eurail Attica Pass makes it easier for travelers to take advantage of increased travel to Greece, where tourist prices have dropped due to the debt crisis and Eurozone restrictions. It’s essentially like the One Country Pass available to the most popular European countries, which has a validity of 3, 4, 5 and 8 days of travel within one month depending on country; however, the Attica Pass starts the journey in Italy so travelers can ferry to Greece at no extra charge. You can use up to six ferry crossings within one month (two might be international trips between Italy and Greece and four domestic trips for island hopping.) Unlike the train passes, overnight journeys only count as one ticket use. This pass includes the rail and bus transfer from the international port of Patras (where Italy ferries make port) to the domestic port of Piraeus (outside Athens) to catch the inter-island ferries. For kids who love trains, planes and automobiles, adding in ferries is sure to be a hit.
Special Offers for 2015 & Beyond include Expo Milano
The newest World’s Fair, Expo Milano 2015, will run this year from May 1 to October 31 and Eurail is making it easy to get there with the Italy One Country Pass. This season, it’s discounted to $167 for three days of unlimited travel in the country. Additionally, a number of Italian High Speed trains (such as the Frecciarossa, Frecciabianca and EuroCity trains) will make a special stop in RhoFiera Milano to bring passengers directly to the EXPO 2015 event, beginning April 26.
In other offers, the Spring Sale for the Regional and One-Country Passes means that travelers will get one additional travel day for free on their passes, between the period March 1–April 30, 2015.
For more information on Eurail Travel, pass options, rules of use and which trains need advance reservations, you can visit the Eurail Group site. Once you make the decision to ride the rails, invest the time to study the materials that come with your ticket. The Pass Guide explains in detail how to travel with Eurail and is translated into six different languages. The Eurail map shows the main train network in Europe, as well as all discounted ferry routes. We also have some tips to make family travel by train a bit easier.
And this program is not only for American families; European families have similar benefits under a sister program called Interrail. To purchase a Eurail Pass, you’ll have to get in touch with a ticket agent such as ACP Rail International, Eurail.com B.V., Rail Europe Group, or STA Travel.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.