If you’re thinking of going interrailing next summer, then you’ve come to the right place. This article contains detailed advice on just about everything you need to know when planning interrailing. Better yet, all advice comes from Jamey, and some of their friends, who have recently survived 3 weeks travelling around Europe.
Getting and using your global pass
This is the most important thing you need to get when going interrailing. The interrail website has lots of different types of tickets depending on your journey. You can also choose how many ‘travel days’ you get within a certain time frame; I used the seven travel days in one month pass, which is their most popular. A travel day is (shock) the day you travel, however this is not limited to one train. You can take four trains in one day and only use one of your travel days, for example. I would strongly recommend the Eurail app as it keeps all your bookings and tickets in one place. It also gives you fun statistics on your journey!
“Never go to Mendrisio” – Nell
This advice has nothing to do with Mendrisio, Switzerland, but rather with our late planning. The eight of us spent a night in the Mendrisio train station waiting for the first train to Milan. The advice I give you is to always plan your journeys very carefully, especially to avoid four hours of delirious tiredness in an outdoor train station. So, go to Mendrisio if that’s what you want to do,but just plan it well!
Planning and booking early gives you more time to find the cheapest and best rated hostels far in advance
“Buy lots of food for trains” – Liv
Train food will save your life! Whether it’s a two or twenty-four hour journey, snacks are essential. Find a Carrefour and go crazy. Your future self sitting on that train will be eternally grateful.
In the same vein, also bring entertainment; whether that be listening to music, reading a book or a game to keep you occupied, some of these journeys are very long so you’re going to be thankful that you sacrificed that extra bit of bag space for some fun.
One piece of advice that I can give you is to travel in even numbers. The bookings for hostel rooms usually come in rooms of 8, 6, 4 or 2, but the cheapest (and most common) were the rooms of 8 (which consisted of four bunk beds). However, if you’re a perfectly extroverted person, then travel in as big or as small of a group you want! In fact, one of our friends left early and we got to share a room for a night with a lovely lad named Gus – so perhaps travelling in an odd or small group will allow you to meet some fun new people. Gus, if you’re reading this, thanks for not robbing us.
“Book and plan early so you don’t have to pay loads” – Liv
Hence the holiday article in November. Planning and booking early gives you more time to find the cheapest and best rated hostels far in advance so you can save that extra bit of money (which you’ll realise is necessary once you get to the cost portion of this article). We used a lot of hostel websites like Hostelworld but there are many out there that give you info on location, prices, room sizes etc.
I can assure you that mainland Europe is way less stingy with their spirits than England, so watch your intake
“Double check you’re reserving seats at the same level as your pass” – Nell
One thing that came as a surprise to us was that our Eurail pass only covered the costs of the tickets, you must pay separately for the seat reservations which ranged from an extra £9-£30 each depending on the distance of the journey (the £30 one was from Rome to Paris, so most are not that expensive!) Nell’s advice comes from our experience of having booked first-class seats when our tickets were second class, so make sure you’re travelling in the right class.
Here is where you will be grateful to have me giving you this advice because I kept an incredibly detailed list on every penny I spent whilst on my three week journey. The overall cost of my journey came to a whopping £1,722.01. (I told you I did it down to the penny)
This large number included absolutely everything from the interrailing ticket to the margherita pizza I had on the train to Paris. Here is some specific cost information to help you:
- Eurail ticket £210
- Travel insurance £22.31
- Total spent on hostels £562.96 including city tax, though we booked late so you can find it cheaper!
- Total spent on travel £217.62
I can assure you that mainland Europe is way less stingy with their spirits than England, so watch your intake. Though we pride ourselves on our ability to get hammered, us Brits have nothing on the other Europeans when it comes to drinking, and they do it cheaper too.
P.S. Go to Bar Las Gambas 2 in Barcelona, they do 2 euro sangrias. Need I say more?
“don’t overpack” – Liv
The key thing to remember when packing for interrailing is that you carry all your belongings around on your back, so be kind to your back and don’t overpack. And remember you can wash almost any piece of clothing in the sink.
“Bring matching hats” – Arthur
This advice is oddly specific but hear me out. My mum, a fantastic knitter, made us all matching hats in the winter, which we ended up taking and wearing in photos in front of all the monuments. This advice is not crucial, but it is a fun idea that you’re welcome to steal.
“Bring digital cameras” – Nell
If you’ve watched the hangover, you know the importance of a digital camera on a holiday. For the nights you’ve forgotten, or the ones you want to remember, the digitals are great fun.
Hopefully this article has made your planning a little easier. Just remember the most important thing is that you have fun… and wear matching hats.
In-article images courtesy of Jamey Heron-Waterhouse. Permission for use granted to Impact. No changes made to these images.
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