The star of Euro travel

If you want to explore Europe with less structure to your vacation, more freedom and free time, the perfect way to travel is by rail. Eurorail, the popular nickname for the Eurail pass, offers unlimited train travel around Europe.

Andrew Fielding, a Student Travel Agency representative, said nearly 200 people have booked Eurorail tickets this semester, and he expects the number to increase as summer approaches. Most people book their flight ticket first and then come back to select and book their rail pass, Fielding said.

He added many choose to travel by train because it is convenient, time-saving and efficient.

“It is the best way to travel,” he said. “It is user-friendly and comfortable for people to do for their first time.”

USF students Ashley Quaid and Danielle Malkin have already booked their tickets for this summer.

Quaid and Malkin are leaving May 9 and will be traveling for an entire month. They said the plane ticket cost $630.

They are flying in to Paris, and from there, the train will take them to their chosen destinations. Quaid and Malkin both purchased a “Eurorail Select Pass” at the STA Travel located in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, and can travel any eight days to five countries within a two-month period. They are planning to go to France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain.

“I thought it would be fun and unique to go and see those places,” Quaid said. She has been to England and Scotland before and said she looks forward to enjoying the flexibility Eurorail offers.

“When I am over there I can do whatever I want,” Quaid said. She is eager to go on a vacation, and among the places she wants to see while she is there are the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum and the site where the Berlin Wall stood.

Former USF student Laura Tucker is also going to Europe but is traveling two weeks by herself before meeting up with Quaid and Malkin. She arrives in Paris as well, but she is undecided about where she will go from there.

“I am not really planning this out,” Tucker said. “I am just going to see what happens. There are certain things I want to see. I really want to see Real Madrid play soccer and visit all the historical places, beaches and other attractions.”

Tucker chose to travel by rail because it is cheap and fast.

“I cannot drive everywhere,” she said. “The train is convenient and runs at all times, and I don’t have to worry about directions or anything.”

The European rail network covers around 160,000 miles with thousands of trains that give travelers more independence than any other way of traveling, according to the Eurorail brochure.

Rail Europe Group, one of the largest distributors of European rail travels, offers possibilities for people who want to explore the European city life. Travelers can choose from different rail packages depending on how many countries they want to visit and how many days they want to travel.

According to their brochure, a “Eurailpass” will give you unlimited travel in 17 countries. You can choose from 15 consecutive travel days in up to three months.

A “Eurailpass Flexi” allows you to choose the number of days in a two-month period, and you can pick any 10 or 15 days in two months.

For more flexibility, you can purchase the “Eurail Selectpass,” which lets you pick both the number of travel days and the number of countries you want to visit.

The most popular package is the “Eurailpass” for one month, according to Fielding.

“The Eurailpasses price out cheaper and it gives you more freedom,” said Fielding. “You don’t have to worry about using one of your travel days.”

However, if you know that you want to visit only four or five countries, the “Selectpass” is a good option, said Fielding.

Most people decide to fly in to London or Paris. “At the beginning of summer these plane tickets cost around mid-$500 to mid-$600,” Fielding said. “Once we get into July and August they are about $700 to $800.”

The rail can take you to the destinations you want to go, and that is exactly why many people choose to travel through Europe by rail, Fielding said.