Interrailing around Europe is one of the most rewarding trips you can ever take. Why? It’s cheap, it’s crazy amounts of fun and it’s one of the best ways to see so many countries and cities in just a few short weeks.
You begin by purchasing a rail pass at http://www.interrail.eu for anything up to 1 month of continual travel. This then gives you access to most rail networks across Europe, and the pass comes with a map in which you can plan your route. Last summer, I went interrailing with my best friend from uni for five weeks and it was honestly one of the best times of our lives. However, if the idea of embarking upon an entire continent with nothing but a rucksack and a rail pass is somewhat unnerving, here are a few tips which will hopefully alleviate some of those nerves:
- A one month continual railpass is roughly £400. After that, we were spending an average of €30-40 a day – €15 a night each for a hostel and €15/20 on food/activities. No, that’s not a lot, but over 30 days, €30-40 per day amounts to a grand total of €1050! So, budgeting is of the upmost importance. We managed to stick to this budget and do everything on a shoestring and yet still had a great time.
- Utilise the supermarkets! One of the only ways you can stick to such a budget is to buy the majority of your food at the local supermarkets, and the European ones are GREAT. Buy a few crossiants for breakfast, a baguette and some slices of cheese for lunch and a banana each and you’ve had two meals for under €3.
- Have something to snack on in your rucksack at all times. When you’re running for trains or enduring long waits at tourist hotspots, the last thing you want is to get hangry with your travel partner. If you always have a cereal bar on you, then a food crisis will never emerge. I’m certain that this small trick saved us from a lot of arguments.
- Know who you’re travelling with. Could you live with one person 24 hours a day for 31 days? Can you sit through eleven-hour train journeys with only them for company? No? don’t do it. The nature of this trip is very intense, so make sure you have a solid friendship before embarking on interrailing.
- Use the Hostel World App. We didn’t book all of our accommodation before we left England but we made a rule that we would book accommodation up for two cities ahead of ourselves. So, if we were in Amsterdam on Monday but knew we’d be in Berlin by Friday, we would utilise the Hostel World app to book some accommodation for ourselves. This app will save you so much hassle, and by a few hostels in, you’ll be a pro at finding a good bargain. Try to stay a few days ahead of yourselves so that you always know where you are staying that night.
- Try to be flexible. We arrived in Vienna and realised very quickly that we didn’t need the five days we’d previously set out for it as it was a much smaller city than first anticipated. We pulled out our maps, saw what cities were nearby and caught a train the next morning to Krakow, where we managed to book a tour to Auschwitz- something that had been on my bucket list for years! By being flexible we had managed to squeeze in a bonus country into our original route. Try to keep your options open as much as you can.
- Most importantly, get out there and have fun! There are so many young people out there doing almost identical routes to you, so sieze every opportunity. Explore, dream and discover.
Image Credits – Ollie Silvester