Europe’s rail passes are affordable again — and much less confusing

Once an economical and easy way to travel around Europe, rail passes over the years had become more of a headache-inducing puzzle. But in 2019, Europe’s rail passes underwent some sweeping changes that have made them an affordable option again, and much less confusing to shop for — and made me nostalgic for their glory days.

As of this year, “Select Passes” — where you could mix and match countries as you like to suit your itinerary — are gone. Now, for the most part, passes cover either all of Europe, or just one country. This means that the classic “Global Pass” is now not only one of the easiest options, but the smart buy for more people traveling by train in multiple European countries.

During their heyday, rail passes were a way of life for European travelers. In my backpacker days, there were just two choices of Eurail Pass: one month or two months, covering most of western Europe, with a second-class option available only to people under 26. Over the years, as Americans started visiting Europe more often and on shorter trips, customization became increasingly in demand.

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