All you need to know on how to plan, prepare, pick your destinations and book the most memorable Interrail trip!
Interrailing? Even the word sounds very exciting and full of adventure but once this feeling begins to wear off it can leave you with a feeling of dread; how do you even go about getting a ticket, where do you want to go, how does your Interrail ticket even work? This can be enough for some of you to leave it at that, just an idea and spare yourself the work. Interrailing is not as complicated as you may think, keep reading to see how exactly it is done.
First of all, getting your pals together is the first hard task that you will be faced with. You may want to bring as many people as possible to make it a big get together for a crazy trip around Europe. Realistically, this is more than likely not going to work out. It is so hard to get a bigger group to agree on dates, where to go, what to see etc.. so a group of 4-6 people is ideal. There were 6 of us which was a handy number. Taxis can be taken without having to get two separate vehicles, sleeping carriages on the trains are in dorms of 6 people, hostel dorms for 4-6 people are usually always available and it is also easier to keep a group of 4-6 people together as opposed to a group of 10+.
It can seem confusing when you go into the Interrail website when you are looking for tickets because you cannot just get a standard Interrail ticket or price. Interrail gives you different price points based on the journeys you take. So in other words;
|Global Pass||Country Pass|
|If you want to visit many different countries, choose this pass, example; Spain, France, Italy & Germany.||If you would like to visit 1 country, example Italy and only travel through Italy then a choose this pass|
|If you know how long you will be travelling for and how many destinations you want to visit will determine how many days (journeys) you will be taking.||If it is just 1 or 2 countries you may be able to purchase this depending on the zones of travel|
|1- Spain – France (direct)|
2- France – Italy (direct)
3- Italy – Germany (direct)
This is essentially 3 train journeys.
|Prices for this pass are cheaper than a global pass|
|The ticket you will need here is the 3 days within one month ticket.||If you want to see more of what a country has to offer then using this pass is how to make your way around the country|
|If you plan on traveling for more than a month then you can get a pass that is valid for 2 months|
|If you don’t know how long or where exactly you wan to visit you can opt to get a continuous pass which allows you to hop on and off wherever you life and you do not have limited travel days.|
|You cannot begin your Interrail trip from your own country||You cannot begin your Interrail trip from your own country|
|Discounts apply if you are 27 and under||Discounts apply if you are 27 and under|
We were primarily visiting 6 countries in 10 days so we bought the ‘7 days within 1 month’ pass. We choose 7 days(journeys) because all of our train journeys were not direct and we had stopovers so we chose 7 just in case. Before we left we decided to cut a country out and visit 5 countries instead.
Things to consider before purchasing an Interrail pass;
Interrail give you various sample routes that you can book online but as a group we brainstormed where everyone wanted to see and put it to vote. It is important that you take into consideration how long it will take you to travel to your next location, the time of year, the accommodation prices, how much time you will need in each place.
Once you get your route planned out you should take a look at accommodation and have an estimated price of how much it will cost you in each location. From doing this you will be able to see whether your days and dates in each location work out well for your budget or you may find that some days are cheaper than others. This will give you the chance to change around your dates or chop and change your route to make your trip more cost effective.
As you cannot begin your trip in the country you are from, it is worth checking out what location is cheapest to fly to first. We flew into Paris as the flight was only €12.74 and we flew home from Croatia as it was the furtherest point of our trip from home.
Once you have looked at all of these aspects you are ready to book your Interrail ticket. We added insurance on the ticket that will protect you from loss & theft for €12.
How your pass works;
You have to reserve your seat before each train journey. You can do this at some train stations on arrival but for busy train services you have to pre-book in advance. Some trains do not accept interrail tickets. We made a huge mistake for our first Interrail journey in Paris by not reserving our seat. On arrival to the station in Paris we were told that there are only a certain amount of Interrail seats allocated on each train for Interrail ticket holders and on this particular train there were no seats left. As we were on a time schedule and the next train was not leaving until the following morning this meant that we were losing a whole day in our next location. The only way around this was to either fly to the next location on the day or pay for a regular train seat on the train. Both options were very expensive and we had to pay for a regular seat, setting us back over €200 euros. So make sure you reserve your seats!!
Overnight trains are very handy to save you money on accommodation. Why not just get an overnight train, book a cabin and sleep through the 12+ journey? I was really excited about this, I was expecting amazing overnight carriages, comfortable beds and you would wake up in a whole new country!! I set myself up for amazing unrealistic things and how wrong was I…
You have to pay extra for an overnight carriage which is understandable and it wasn’t too much. The cabin itself is TINY! It fits 6 people with 3 bunks either side, we each had a carry on suitcase and a school bag each which took over the tiny floor space, we were then given a sheet and pillow for our beds as the porter proceeded to tell us to sleep with our belongings under our heads in our pillowcases because thieves can unlock your door in 25 seconds to try and rob you in the time frame that he will be sleeping, do not go to the toilet on your own you must go in twos and have someone lock the door behind you. We had a very late night the night before so tensions were very high and emotions were through the roof, it was hot and we couldn’t open the window as the speed of the train and the nature outside rocked havoc with hay-fever so overall it was not the most pleasant 16 hour journey to Croatia but all was forgotten on arrival. It is an experience we talk about to this day and I am still laughing as I write this post!
Tips & Tricks;
*Fly into and home from the cheapest destinations along your Interrail Route.
*Be sure to check weather conditions before you go so you have the appropriate clothes. Although you might be in a hot country but you plan to visit the Ice Bar, flip flops wont cut it.
*Make sure you reserve your trains to avoid extra costs and to ensure your trip flows the way you want it too.
*Lists, lists, lists. Having lists done will be your best friend. If you have an intense trip planned having everything written down will make it easier for you to refer back to to see what you want to see in each location, how to get around, what accommodation you are in etc.
*Be sure to check what currency you will need in each city and the currency conversion. Be careful with this as it is very easy to get confused on how much you are actually spending.
*Be aware of tipping and city tax laws to avoid any unwanted awkward situations.
*Try to arrive into a new location during daylight, this can be hard to do but it will save you walking around in circles looking for your accommodation.
*Make sure you have insurance for your trip.
*Divide the workload of booking accommodation and researching things to do between your group. We went to 5 different locations, we each picked a place, picked the accommodation and booked it. On arrival, whoever booked it gets first choice of bed, it’s tiny things like this keeps everyone happy.
*Argue if you need to! It is OK to fall out over a who gets the last slice of ham or cheese for your roll in the morning, ye are going to be tired and easily annoyed. Let it out and get over it as quickly as.
Last but not least, if there is something you really want to do while you are in a location it would be worth booking it before you arrive. We missed out on certain things because it was all sold out.
I hope I covered everything here, but if you have any questions about Interrailing or want help or advice on booking your trip, be sure to ask me!! I will go through where I went in other posts too.