Europe’s answer to budget travel? It’s Interrailing — essentially backpacking, but with a pass to use trains linking up to 31 countries in Europe, including Italy, France, and Switzerland. There’s a choice of passes for different budgets, with discounts for those 27 years old or younger, making it exceptionally popular with students and recent graduates.
How does Interrailing work?
Interrail passes are priced in accordance with the period in which you intend to travel, as well as the number of days you plan on traveling.
For instance, if you are traveling three days within a month, the price starts at €168, but if you’d like unlimited travel days over the course of three months the pass will set you back €693.
For a fast paced whistle-stop tour of Europe, the 22-day InterRail Pass, which will allow you to board as many trains as you want from €398, is probably the best option.
There are lots of things to consider when planning an Interrailing trip, but first and foremost, you need to bear in mind the distance between each stop and the number of train journeys you are willing to do.
If you are interested in a long-haul journey, perhaps to visit Turkey and eastern Europe, or Scandinavian countries like Finland, it might be more time-efficient to opt for overnight trains. (This option will also reduce the amount of money spent on accommodation.)
Think logically about which route makes the most sense, especially if you’re trying to fit in as much as possible in a short period. How many countries do you want to visit? How many cities in each country do you want to see? What highlights do you not want to miss? Will you eventually need to return to your first destination for a flight back home?
What’s great about Interrailing is that you can mold the trip completely to fit your needs and interests. Perhaps you would like to spend a week discovering multiple areas of Italy but just want a day or two to peek around Lake Bled, Slovenia. Or maybe you’re primarily interested in exploring Eastern Europe but would like to venture west and spend some time in Paris, too. With Interrail, you can easily customize your itinerary.
Interrailing tips and tricks
As previously mentioned, Interrailing is frequently considered a backpacking trip. This is especially the case if you plan on squeezing in as many destinations as possible in the time frame.
A backpack will allow you to go straight from the train station into the city, ready to explore, but can become a nuisance. If you’ll be staying overnight, it’s not a bad idea to choose accommodation close to the train station, allowing you to drop off unnecessary baggage without any fuss. If you’re going to be somewhere a few days, you can leave any luggage in your hotel room (or a locker if you’re staying in a hostel). In general though, less is more, and you will not regret opting for lighter baggage.
On a different note, you should remember that although many European countries use euros as a currency, there are exceptions, including the U.K. and Switzerland.
And although the Global Pass does generally cover a lot of journeys, there are instances where you’ll need to pay additional charges, so bear these in mind when budgeting your trip. You can’t book a specific seat in advance, and some high-speed intercity trains are not included on the pass.
Consider how you plan on passing time on each train journey. Perhaps bring a book, strike up a conversation with a stranger, or use the time to go through and edit your holiday snaps.