Discuss as:

Not your mother's Eurail Pass

With the addition of Slovakia, Eurail Global Pass holders can now visit 23 countries. Pictured is Bratislava castle in the capital city of Bratislava, Slovakia.

Many Americans associate the Eurail Pass with college students bumming around Europe for the summer. However, that stereotype is about as dated as Americans cruising Route 66 in a V8 convertible.

The Eurail Pass is a low-stress, efficient and civilized choice for travelers of any age and increasingly of mid-range and upper budgets. And with the recent addition of hotspot destination Slovakia to Eurail’s Global Pass, it is an ever more comprehensive way to visit the continent.

The Adventure Travel Trade Association recently ranked Slovakia as a top adventure spot in the world among developing destinations. Eurail Marketing Director Ana Dias e Seixas points out that “with the inclusion of the Slovakian railway, Eurail Global Pass holders will expand their range to 23 European countries.”

With more than 225,000 miles of track, Eurail gives direct access to areas not served by air and does away with the anxiety of driving and parking on roads that were originally built for horse-drawn chariots.

Why pass up on that glass of champagne at lunch only to sit in horrific traffic in your rental car? Instead, you can amble over to the dining car and take in the sights as the countryside rolls by. Most trains also deposit you right in the city center rather than forcing you to negotiate an additional trip from a suburban airport to your hotel.

The Eurail Pass is no longer a one-size-fits-all travel voucher but a variety of ticket options that have evolved along with travelers’ new needs. These days, most people have shorter vacations and prefer to target a few countries rather than taking the summer-long jaunts of yesteryear.

According to Mark Smith, founder of train travel information site The Man in Seat 61, “Eurail isn't even necessarily the best money-saving option. It's actually the gold-plated option, giving you flexibility and freedom at a relatively affordable cost compared to the expensive full-price fares you'd pay at the station.”

Smith says that nowadays students and others who are on the tightest of budgets may be more attracted to “the cheap 'budget train fares' you can find online for an advanced-purchase, pre-planned itinerary assuming they’re willing to risk a no-refunds, no-changes ticket."

The Eurail Pass is worth the price for peace-of-mind and convenience. And they sweeten the deal with free or reduced transportation on private railroad companies, national and international ferry crossings and bus transportation, as well as reductions on hotels, museums and bicycle rentals.

Next time in Europe, consider thinking beyond flights and rental cars. With new destinations like Slovakia, Eurail allows you to see it all and actually have a chance to enjoy that relaxing “Continental” pace-of-life in the process.

More on Itineraries