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UK and European Travel - Best Rail Passes for Longer-Stay Visitors

Freedom to Ride the Rails For As Long As You Like


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European rail travel

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Rail passes that give you unlimited train travel during a specific period of time are a great way to see the UK and Europe. Students, backpackers, the footloose and the fancy free have been enjoying the freedom and economy they offer for years. But, most of the money saving rail passes are designed for people who are traveling during a specific period of time - 10 or 15 or 22 days over a month or two or three. Whether you buy a flexipass (for a certain number of days over a chosen period), or a consecutive pass - where the days you pay for are counted off in order - the idea behind these passes is that you are on vacation and will be going home within a month or two at the most.

Rail Passes for Longer Stays in the UK and Europe

What if you are planning to use the UK as a travel base for a much longer stay? The long established European idea of the gap year, that has sent the British all over the world between secondary school and university, is catching on all over the place. And it's not just students who are taking a gap year. Older adults who fancy some time out for travel, volunteering or a change of career, are doing it too.

If you are coming to the UK to work, to study or to bum around for a year or so, the popular Eurail passes that you can buy in the US may be too time restrictive or too expensive.

The Most Practical Rail Pass Combo

The best approach is combine Britrail passes with InterRail Global Passes that can only be purchased in the UK or Europe.

BritRail Passes If you'll be using the UK as your main base and will be doing a bit of local traveling in England, Scotland and Wales, buy several Britrail passes before you leave home - you can't buy them once you get here. The best one for this kind of a stay is a BritRail Flexipass which is available for any 4, 8 or 15 days over two months. Travelers under 26 years of age can take advantage of special youth fares as well.

The benefit of this kind of pass for someone planning a longer stay is that you don't have to take the days in consecutive order and your two months begin the first time you use the pass. So you can buy several of them before you leave North America and spread their use out over your time in the UK. Another benefit is that BritRail Pass holders get discounts on Eurostar trains through the Channel Tunnel to France, Belgium and beyond.
Check BritRail Pass prices and buy direct

Top Tip

BritRail passes are for leisure travel. Don't try to use them to commute to work or school - the train conductor will soon cotton on. Besides, if you are commuting by rail, there are much cheaper, locally available options. Check National Rail Enquiries for commuter passes.
InterRail Global PassesUse InterRail Global Passes for your European Travel. The InterRail network covers 30 participating European rail networks. The Global Pass can be used in any of of the listed countries except the one in which you are resident (which is why you'll also need those BritRail passes).

With an InterRail Global pass you can travel in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, FYR Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey. The pass is also good for ferry services between Italy and Greece.

Top Tip

Keep in mind that InterRail Global Passes may have a minimum residency requirement of at least six months in your European host country before you can buy one. If you are planning to travel before you've been in the UK six months, a Eurail Pass, purchased before you leave home, could be your only cost effective choice.

Two Kinds of InterRail Global Passes

The passes are available as:
  • InterRail Global FlexiPasses for any 5 days within 10, or any 10 days within 22
  • InterRail Global Consecutive Passes for either 22 days or one month.

Free and Easy and Good Value Too

InterRail Global passes are sold in Euros and are very reasonably priced. They can be purchased online quickly (from the UK or any of the participating European countries, but not from North America) at InterRail's own website so you can pop across the Channel for a quick break on very short notice.

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