My experience with trains is limited to Europe. I love trains. It’s like the car because you can see the scenery go by. However, no one has to take a turn behind the wheel (I actually believe that’s frowned upon), one does not have to beg for a potty break, and you can walk around. Instead of flying into an airport, the train takes you right into the city.
Years ago I traveled on a Eurail Pass. It was cost effective for the type of traveling we did. We had a 21 day pass. At that time they only offered unlimited 1st class travel, or 2nd class for students. They’ve changed a bit since then. You can still get a pass for unlimited travel during a set amount of time, but there are less expensive ones if you plan to travel only 5 days within a 10 day period, for example. I you are looking at Eurail keep in mind that your pass does not include reservations which are mandatory in many countries and strongly advised in the rest. There is a supplement for a sleeping compartment if you plan to travel overnight and you also need a reservation here or you will wind up in a couchette. Better than all night in a seat, but very hard and with several new best friends you didn’t know you had. Eurail is only available in the US for Americans traveling in Europe.
I’ve also traveled on Interail. This pass is available for residents of Europe. We managed this because we were residing in the UK, even though we are US citizens. Unlike Eurail passes, Interail is only second class.
I’ve also traveled point to point, or purchasing tickets for each leg of the journey. Both rail passes can be the best way to travel if you intend to stay in Western Europe. Once you get to Easter Europe, the cost for point to point travel is often less than going with a train pass. Also, with your train ticket you have a reserved seat and a sleeper compartment if you desire. I have been looking at Rail Europe for schedules and prices. This is a company that Good Ole’ Rick [Steves] recommends. I will probably purchase our train tickets with them because you just can’t go wrong with Rick. Right now I am not able to purchase tickets as it is too far out. The only problem I had with Rail Europe is finding a timetable (at least!) for the travel from Bucharest to Istanbul. I was referred to Deutche Bahn, but that wasn’t helpful, either. Since travel time on that route is 19 hours my friend and I are opting to fly. The flight is 90 minutes and $20 dollars cheaper. As we will be traveling in winter we wouldn’t be able to see much of Bulgaria in the dark. Save it for another time! LW