Should you buy a rail pass in Europe?

Unless you’re an extreme in taking the train everywhere in Europe, you shouldn’t get a rail pass. Why? There are numerious operators that will try to sell you a pass. However, what they won’t tell you upfront is a few things:

  1. Their tools for booking the train routes are bad. They will either tell you 2 things.
    1. That they would recommend x pass and what routes are covered with that pass [But not including the cost of the necessary, but not included seat reservations]
    2. The individual prices for what they would sell the ticket for.
  2. Every seat reservation performed by the rail pass seller has a fee of 8e [which was the case for EuRail] on top of the seat reservation cost by the carrier. [For the Thalys trains, that’s 39e]. These prices are per high speed train and per person. This is going to get very expensive very quick.
  3. The rail passes don’t cover high speed trains.
  4. To get a refund on these passes you’ll forfeit a predatory restocking fee. [There is no reason for this fee]
  5. To use the passes, you usually have to get the passes “activated” which is a matter of a stamp/docs verification at the trainstation. In the case of the Gard du Nord Est station in Paris. That’s not easy to find.

Need another reason? Deutche Bahn, Thalys, MegaTrains UK, and the Irish rail accept American credit cards and offer the home print option for their tickets. On top of that, the reservations include a seat reservation.

If you’re going to be travelling a lot by train get a Bahn 25/50/100 card, or the equivalent discount card.

Going back to the question about buying a rail pass?

No you shouldn’t.

3 Strikes Budget Rental Car: You’re Out!

I’ve been a loyal renter of cars from Budget rental car. They don’t’ have a particular set level of status, or give points, I don’t mind, I like things to stay simple. In some periods I’ve had to rent a car for work every week for 4 months. [That was my longest renting streak with Budget]. However there have been 3 major issues that I’ve had with Budget:

1. Need to change your contract during the time you have the car? Call up Budget and you’ll be sent to sales. This is a new sales avenue for them. They will make an adjustment to the contract at a new rate and charge a fee to do this [if you prepaid].
2. Have a misconnect or a schedule change with a flight? Despite that they work alongside the airlines, they do not acknowledge that misconnects and huge delays do happen.
3. Mysterious dings/scratches. I returned my car in ATL last Thursday evening. A ding was found on a wheel well. [How this got there is beyond me and there was no indication of neighboring marks that would give more hints to this] The issue here is that no inspection was done after receiving the car. They agents refused to inspect the car and demanded that I sign the damage form blank. How this will be billed/handled by insurance or credit card is beyond me.

More information on the second complaint: I’ve had an issue or two where I’ve had to change my contract/arrival times with the rental company. I’ve never been able to get to local branch where I reserved my car. All of the listings for that location are SEO optimized to go to the national number, which then forwards you to sales rather than customer service. After getting tired of the whole pricing, I was told by the agent at the ROC Budget Rental company that the new price was based on “Market Demand.” That ignores the fact that by not picking up the car they now have more supply and less demand. They attempted to reprice a week long rental that was originally $172 to $530+. Finally, after threatening to cancel my reservation for next week, he made a (his words) “manual one time price fix.” I knew the market price for a last minute car rental. It was $350 via Alamo. Are they any better? We’ll see.