If you're planning lots of rail travel in Europe, then Eurail is your best bet. But if you're going to spend a lot of time in one country, check the rail passes for that nation only.
For example, the Spanish National Railway provides a tourist card that offers unlimited travel for 8, 15 or 22 days. The prices, until May 28, 1988, and based on current exchange rates, are about $100 for first-class travel and $80 for second-class travel on an eight-day pass.
The 15-day pass costs about $186 first class and $133 second class, with the 22-day pass going for $221 first class and $169 second class. Children 12 and under receive a 50% discount.
You also can buy a discount ticket/booklet called Chequetren that offers about a 15% break. For $188, you get about $221 worth of rail travel. Similarly, purchase of a ticket for $263 obtains about $309 of train service. With each trip, the value is marked in your booklet.
Moreover, up to six people can use the ticket as long as their names and passport numbers are written in the booklet at the time of purchase.
While all six users get the same 15% discount, the value of their combined travel is recorded in the booklet. There are no time or distance limits, and the ticket can be used for either first-class or second-class travel.
In addition, 305 days a year are referred to as Blue Days, when you automatically get a 25% discount off round-trip tickets of more than 100 kilometers in each direction.
All passes have to be purchased in Spain. For more information, contact the Spanish National Tourist Office, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills 90211, (213) 658-7188.
Also, Italian tourist rail passes provide unlimited use for eight to 30 days on a consecutive-day basis. The eight-day pass costs $169 first class and $107 second class. You can get a 15-day pass for $204 first class and $130 second class, and a 21-day pass for $245 and $152, respectively. A 30-day pass costs $295 first class and $186 second class.
Kilometric tickets, valid for two months, allow 20 trips totaling 3,000 kilometers (1,875 miles). Up to five people, who don't have to be related, can travel with you, with their travel counting against these trip/kilometer allowances. The kilometric tickets cost $205 first class and $116 second class.
These passes can be bought in the United States or Italy. Contact travel agents or Italian State Railways, 6033 W. Century Blvd., Los Angeles 90045, (213) 338-8620.