A BritRail Youth Pass for spring or summer should be bought before April 1, when American prices are expected to rise by more than 10%.
The BritRail Youth Pass is valid for unlimited travel on rail services of England, Scotland and Wales. It can be bought by anyone aged 16 through 25. It must be bought before you go to Britain and you must begin to use it within six months of date of purchase.
Until March 31 the price is $95 U.S. for seven days, $150 for 14 days, $190 for 21 days and $225 for a month. On April 1 prices will rise but use of the tickets will be extended by one day to periods of eight, 15, 22 days and the one-month pass.
No More Seapasses
BritRail Pass buyers also have had the option of buying special "Seapasses" for travel to Europe or Ireland. They will no longer be available after March 31. Until then, Seapasses can be bought when you buy your BritRail Youth Pass for $31 to Europe and $43 to Ireland. Round-trip passage is available at double those prices. The hitch is that you must use the Seapasses before April 1.
An alternative reduction on travel to the Continent is to buy point-to-point Eurotrain tickets from travel agencies in Britain. Eurotrain tickets are available to anyone under the age of 26. The rate from London to Calais, France, is 17.50 (about $27 U.S.).
For further BritRail Youth Pass details, see a travel agent before you leave home.
You can buy Eurotrain tickets from youth travel agencies in Britain, including Travel CUTS at 52 Grosvenor Gardens (opposite Victoria Station), London SW1W 0AG. Phone 730-3402.
Eurail Youthpass rates have already been raised for 1987. Travelers under the age of 26 are now charged $310 for one month and $400 for two months of unlimited second-class travel in 16 European countries. Participating countries are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany (Federal Republic), Greece, Ireland (Republic), Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
This ticket also provides free or reduced-cost travel on many steamers, ferries and buses. Youthpass holders must pay some supplements for special high-speed or first-class trains and sea travel.
For example, your Youthpass is valid for ferry crossings on the Irish Continental Line between Ireland and France, but you must pay extra for the reservation service and port tax. You also incur additional expenses if you want a sleeping berth in a cabin.
The Silja Line ship I traveled on between Helsinki and Stockholm also honored the passes for passage and charged extra for a berth in a cabin, but it provided a large room with bunk beds at no charge for economy passengers. Those in the know staked their claims quickly.
Between June 10 and Sept. 30 Youthpass holders will also have to pay an $8 U.S. high-season surcharge for steamship travel between Brindisi, Italy, and Patras, Greece. Reserve for trips in July or August, a service that costs an additional $2.
Spain is the one country where Youthpass holders can't just hop onto a train; you must get a reservation or boarding pass at the station. There's a small charge for the reservation, which guarantees a seat; the boarding pass is free.
Buy Before Leaving
Eurail Youthpasses must also be bought from travel agents before you leave home. Be sure you also get a copy of the Eurail timetable. It lists major train routes and can help you get started planning your trip.
When checking timetables, remember that a large city may have more than one train station. Make sure that you don't have a tight connection if you have to switch stations.
On overnight trains you can reserve couchettes at an economy rate. In second-class this is a berth with pillow and blanket in a compartment shared by six persons. Don't count on privacy or segregation by sex.
If you're going to nap in a seat or a berth, it's a good idea to keep your money and passport in a money pouch under your clothing.
You should also consider packing a small water container. Tap water on many trains is undrinkable, and not really what you'd want to use in brushing your teeth.