Can I fudge the Eurail purchase?
October 5, 2010 3:40 PM   Subscribe

I didn't get my Eurail pass before I left. Now I have a surprise week off and I'd really like one. Will I run into any problems if I buy one, have it sent to my hometown in Canada, and have my parents send it back to me in France? I have 17 days before it needs to be in my hands.

I believe I can get the pass to my body on time if I buy it within the next day and use premium shipping options. If you think this might not work or foresee any problems with this, I'd really like to hear.

What I more want to know is: are there any roadblocks or red-tape type things that might stop me from being able to do this? I can't get the Interrail pass, since it won't work in my "home country" and I want to travel in France, where I reside for the next couple of months. So I have to get the Eurail pass, which can ship to North America and hopefully be shipped back to me quickly. Is there anything I have to have had done to the Eurail pass before leaving for Europe that would prevent me from doing what I've described?

Thank you so much for your help!
posted by superiorchicken to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
superiorchicken: "Is there anything I have to have had done to the Eurail pass before leaving for Europe that would prevent me from doing what I've described?"

No; if you can actually buy it online, you'll be fine. I'd pay to have it sent back over USPS Priority International but this plan should work.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:47 PM on October 5, 2010

It's probably worth comparing the cost of the pass to the cost of train tickets. If you're travelling in France and can buy the tickets in France, it may very well be cheaper (not to mention safer!) just to do it this way.... Eurail passes are certainly convenient but may not actually be the best value.
posted by lumiere at 4:21 PM on October 5, 2010

I once bought a Eurail pass in Barcelona at Estacio Sants (I know, not supposed to be possible) so I would check around and see if you can't buy one in France. After that I would do as lumiere suggests and compare the cost of the pass to the cost of the tickets or other pass in France; in the end the savings may not justify the expense and hassle of 'fudging' your Eurail purchase.
posted by braemar at 5:34 PM on October 5, 2010

As lumiere says, Eurail Pass is only a good deal if you are planning to cross the continent and doing a fair bit of roaming.

We considered getting a Eurail for a 2 week vacation between 5 cities in Netherlands/Germany a few years ago, but we couldn't get one on short notice... even so, we ended up spending quite a bit less just buying generic train tickets for our venture than the Eurail Pass would have cost.
posted by ovvl at 6:01 PM on October 5, 2010

If you're under 26 it could be a better deal to get a Carte 12-25. It gives you 25-60% off all trips in France as well as discounts in other countries, and it's good for one year. It costs 49 Euros and you can get them at any SNCF station.
posted by meadowlands at 6:17 PM on October 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Eurail is actually a bad deal if you travel smart - going from city to the next closest city. I found it only paid for itself if I was traveling far in a single day. Eg: Berlin to Madrid, Prague to Barcelona.

It looks like a good deal until you get it and then realize you still have to pay for certain reservations, faster trains, and better seats.
posted by yeti at 6:34 PM on October 5, 2010

It is possible to buy a Eurail pass in Europe, although you'll pay a premium (~20%, according to that FAQ) for it. I did this several years ago in Munich; I had to go to a small office inside the train station, prove that I was a non-European citizen, hand over some cash, and then they issued my pass right then and there.

How much of a markup will all the premium shipping be? If it ends up being around the same as the buying-in-Europe markup, you might as well buy the thing there and save the hassle.
posted by av123 at 7:43 PM on October 5, 2010

I was in Europe for about a year and did this a couple of times. I had them sent to my dad and then FedExed to me.

The above posts are right though, there will be a premium for almost all French trains. If you plan ahead and can get the student discount, you probably won't save a fortune.
posted by dripdripdrop at 6:36 AM on October 6, 2010

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