In previous posts I have listed 7 ways to buy tickets when traveling by train in the Netherlands but rail passes remain a popular choice for International travelers. Where can you buy these and who offers the best deal?
The company that manages the Eurail ‘Product’ is called Eurail GIE. They have a network of sales agents who sell their passes. Be sure to purchase a pass only from these sources as these are the ‘authorized sales agents’. The unusual thing is that although each of these companies all sells the same product for the European railways they are still in competition with each other. So each company will have different offers from time to time. They have their own promotions and their prices can vary so it is good to shop around. Traveling with a rail pass requires some planning so it is best to purchase from a company that has a good customer service and can help you plan your trip or explain the purchase process/coverage.
When looking for a rail Pass in the Netherlands they are usually called ‘Benelux’ Passes and cover travel not only in The Netherlands but also in Belgium and Luxembourg too.
1. ACP Rail International
2. Eurail.com (interrail.eu)
3. STA Travel
North America: http://www.statravel.com
Rest of the world: http://www.statravel.com/worldwide.htm
4. Rail Europe
North America: http://www.raileurope.com/index.html
Rest of the World: http://www.raileurope.fr/corporate/-Where-to-buy-
5. Rick Steves
Works in partnership with Rail Europe: https://www.ricksteves.com/
Top Tip: Shop Around- check the prices on each of these official websites. Some promotions are run by all the sales agents however as they are all competing for sales and so some promotions are exclusive, it’s worth doing a price comparison. Check before high season in February and after high season in November for the best deals. Some companies may appear to sell cheaper passes- but there could be hidden shipping or credit card fees. So be sure to check the full price when comparing prices.
Another option is to purchase a pass via a travel agent. This will incur more costs as they will add their fee/commission to the price of your pass. With a lot of information available on line I recommend avoiding travel agents. Unless you really do not want to be bothered researching routes and plans for yourself- then of course the travel agent route is a good option. If you purchase a pass directly from a company if you have any problems you can contact them directly. If you travel from an agent you may need to go via the travel agent for advice on any plans. This may not be so handy when you are in Europe and need a quick answer to a question. Some Eurail sales agents offer direct assistance to customers via email or Facebook Twitter etc. They sometimes ask you for your order number before they assist you and this order number shows where you purchased the Pass.
Passes require a lot of proactive work. However for travel in The Netherlands it is not so difficult to figure out as the train system is easy to understand and the country is small. You can travel on most trains with your pass and there are a few high speed trains such as the Thalys that travel from Holland to Brussels and France that require reservations but you can easily avoid this train and take trains fully covered by your pass.