Menu

8 Top Tips for Stress Free Interrailing

Interrailing is a great way to explore Europe on a budget, and is perfect for people who want to go travelling after finishing their exams, like me and my friends did last summer. We went into the experience pretty much blind, determined to prove our parents wrong and organise a successful holiday by ourselves. The holiday was successful, and we spent a very enjoyable 3 weeks travelling around Europe, but there were many things that it would have been nice to know about before we left, rather than at 1am in a Parisien train station from an angry ticket inspector…

Here are my top tips to make sure your interrailing experience goes more smoothly than ours did.

1. Enter the DiscoverEU lottery

The interrail pass is relatively cheap considering what you get: for around £250 you can travel across Europe on any train. However, if that is still too much for you, or if you could use the extra money to spend while out there, then you are in with a chance of getting a free pass. If you turn 18 during the year before you want to leave, then you can enter a lottery to win a free pass. You simply need to go to the DiscoverEU website and fill out a short quiz (with answers you can very easily Google on the fly) and you are entered into the draw to win. There’s only a 15% chance of snagging one, but it’s worth a shot to save a couple hundred pounds. I managed to get one so it’s clearly not impossible

If you do apply for a free pass, make sure you check your
emails as there is a deadline to accept the pass if you win.

2. Plan your journeys

The interrail pass gets you on any train for free, but you still might need to spend a bit more money to get on some of the trains. Any high speed or sleeper trains (including Eurostar) require a seat reservation to get on. This is not expensive if you book in advance so when you’re planning out your journeys, check if any of the trains you want to get might require you to spend a bit extra to get on. There is an official Interrail app called Rail Planner which shows you all the trains you’ll need to pay for and even lets you reserve your seat from the app. It doesn’t always show the best times but it’s a good tool for figuring out which trains you can get on for free. 

If you want to avoid these costs, then be prepared for very long journeys with long waiting times in potentially very obscure places. This is what I did, and I have to say, some of the most enjoyable parts of my trip were spent in places I’d never heard of before waiting 5 hours for the first train the next morning.

The most expensive trains will be the ones in and out of the UK so book those well in advance to avoid extortionate prices.

3. Research your accommodation

Whether you’re doing a luxury tour of the finest hotels in Europe or slumming it in hostel dorms, it’s always a good idea to check out where you’ll be staying ahead of time. Making sure you’ve got the best price and location is vital in maximising your enjoyment while travelling. Hostelworld is a great website/app where you can make and manage bookings as well as access all the necessary information for you to get to the hostel or contact them if needs be. It’s also worth looking into the city you’re staying in to make sure that you’ve got the best placement. Don’t make the mistake I did and book a hostel 2 miles out of the city centre just because you’re going for the best price.

For more touristy cities, you can’t really afford to be fussy. Hostel dorms are generally affordable but if you’re expecting anything more glamorous than that, then expect to spend a LOT more money.

4. Budget

There’s nothing worse than having to phone up your parents to ask them to send you money. This can be avoided by taking care of any costs you can pay before you leave (accommodation, seat reservations etc) and by planning how much you’ll be spending each day. Obviously different places will be more or less expensive but generally, you can spend €20 a night at a decent hostel and €20 a day on food. 

Other costs will swing a lot more depending on where you’re going, but you can generally bet that you’ll be able to get cheap alcohol wherever you go. If you’re strapped for cash, then consider which cities you’re planning on going to. If you want to go to a touristy destination eg Rome, Paris, Barcelona; expect costs to be a lot higher than smaller cities where you’ll be able to get a very similar experience. Also, don’t be afraid to haggle.

In most shops you can knock a few euros off the price tag, especially in tourist traps where prices aren’t displayed and generally made up depending on the customer. If you start chatting to the shopkeeper and charm them up a bit, you’re certain to get a better price. They’re only going to rip you off if they think you’re dumb enough to be ripped off.

Monzo is a great online bank that gives you a card that you can use abroad with the best conversion rates. Also, if you’re planning on carrying large amounts of cash, then split it up among your luggage so you don’t lose all of it in one go if the worst does happen.

5. Prepare for the weather

If you’re planning on going interrailing in the summer – as I would imagine most people will be – then prepare for it to be HOT. Especially in this day and age, you will probably be sweltering for the majority of your trip. Make sure you pack plenty of socks as they will get drenched in sweat very quickly, and prioritise t-shirts over hoodies. Loose button-up shirts are always a good idea as they are the most socially acceptable alternative to walking around topless (at least for guys, I’m afraid I can’t give many fashion tips for girls). Remember sun cream and bring a refillable water bottle, especially if you’re going to be walking around all day.

Weather forecasts are rarely reliable more than a week in advance, so don’t base your packing on them. If you’re going in the summer, it will be hot. Don’t exclusively pack summer clothes but be conscious of how much you want to carry with you while you’re travelling.

6. Don’t forget the real world

If you’re planning on going travelling after you’ve finished your A-levels and you want to continue on to higher education afterwards, then you’re going to be out of the country during a very important period. If there’s anything still left to be done regarding university or apprenticeships when you leave, then make sure you’re checking your emails, or have someone back in the UK checking them for you. You’d hate to come back from your trip to find you’ve missed a deadline which could affect your plans for the future.

It might be a good idea to contact your university or employer to let them know that you may be unavailable for the duration of your trip and to ask them for any key dates or information that will be useful.

7. Socialise

If you find yourself in a sticky situation, you may have to rely on your charisma to help you out. If you’re stuck in a small French town in the middle of the night, it’s worth talking to people you meet there in case they can help you out. This is exactly the situation my friends and I found ourselves in, and we ended up with a bed for the night, just because we said hello to someone. 

Interrailing has restored my faith in humanity and the kindness of strangers but please note we were a group of three tall lads and not everyone might feel confident doing this.

Even if you don’t need help, your trip will be so much more enjoyable if you make friends along the way. You’ll be surprised at the charity and friendliness of complete strangers if you give them a chance.

 

Learn a few key phrases in the language of the countries you’re going to. This will help you massively at restaurants and shops and will prevent you from being viewed as a typical English tourist.

8. Stay vigilant

Something we learnt the hard way is that amongst the nice guys there will always be idiots and crime happens in Europe too. Pickpocketing is always a risk, especially in larger cities, and if you fall asleep on a train, make sure all of your belongings are secure and/or hidden. If you’re travelling in a group, it’s a good idea to sleep in shifts so you’ve always got someone watching your valuables. Travel insurance is also a good idea. I went for Alpha Insurance, who covered medical bills and lost valuables for £25. Something to bear in mind is that if you do lose something and want to claim it on insurance, you have to file a police report within 24 hours. We struggled to do this as obviously we were moving around a lot. So travel insurance is definitely a good idea but is not 100% effective.
 
Make sure you know where your passport and interrail pass are at all times. These are the most important things you will need as you will struggle to get home without them.
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

One Response

  1. Wow this is comprehensive – clear and easily absorbed. I wish I’d had this advice when I started travelling as a teenager in Europe way back in 1961, when my naivety and ignorance nearly got me put me off the train hundreds of miles from my destination!
    Bravo Adam and best of everything at Bristol.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Part-time Receptionist required at Lambourn Surgery
Temporary Kitchen Porter job at the Harrow at Little Bedwyn
January Special Offers on Penny Post
Puppy Trainers Needed for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
Ridgeway Rise Care Home
Nine Grand
The George in Lambourn
Downlands Racing News with Pat Murphy – January 2020 update
Slider

Coverage Area

What's On

Jan
22
Wed
2020
7:00 am Hungerford Wednesday Market @ Hungerford High Street
Hungerford Wednesday Market @ Hungerford High Street
Jan 22 @ 7:00 am – 2:30 pm
Hungerford Wednesday Market @ Hungerford High Street | England | United Kingdom
Wednesday is market day in Hungerford, when cars give way to shoppers, traders and stalls filled with fresh fruit, vegetable, fish, meat, flowers, plants, clothes,
10:00 am Art Group @ Lambourn Library
Art Group @ Lambourn Library
Jan 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Group @ Lambourn Library | Lambourn | England | United Kingdom
Art Group Every Wednesday, 10.00am-12.00pm at Lambourn Library. Bring your paints, pastels or pencils. For more information, please contact the library. Twitter: https://twitter.com/WBerksLibraries Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newburylibrary/
11:00 am Rhymetime @ Hungerford Library @ Hungerford Library
Rhymetime @ Hungerford Library @ Hungerford Library
Jan 22 @ 11:00 am – 11:30 am
Rhymetime @ Hungerford Library @ Hungerford Library | England | United Kingdom
Rhymetime Rhymetime for under 4’s, every Wednesday in term time ONLY, 11am at Hungerford Library. For more information please contact the library. Twitter: https://twitter.com/WBerksLibraries Facebook:
11:00 am Rhymetime @ Newbury Library @ Newbury Library
Rhymetime @ Newbury Library @ Newbury Library
Jan 22 @ 11:00 am – 11:30 am
Rhymetime @ Newbury Library @ Newbury Library | England | United Kingdom
Rhymetime for under 3 years Every Tuesday and Wednesday, 11.00-11.20am at Newbury Library. For more information, please contact the library. Twitter: https://twitter.com/WBerksLibraries Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newburylibrary/ http://info.westberks.gov.uk/article/30251
11:00 am Rhymetime @ Theale Library @ Theale Library
Rhymetime @ Theale Library @ Theale Library
Jan 22 @ 11:00 am – 11:30 am
Rhymetime @ Theale Library @ Theale Library | Theale | England | United Kingdom
Rhymetime for 0-2 years Wednesdays. 11.00-11.30am, term time only, at Theale Library No charge, but voluntary donations welcome. For more information, please contact the library.
2:00 pm English Conversation Group @ Hun... @ Hungerford Library
English Conversation Group @ Hun... @ Hungerford Library
Jan 22 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
English Conversation Group @ Hungerford Library @ Hungerford Library | England | United Kingdom
English Conversation Group Is English your second language? Get help with everyday conversation at this friendly session. Every Wednesday, 2.00-3.00pm at Hungerford Library. For more
2:30 pm Knit & Natter @ Newbury Library
Knit & Natter @ Newbury Library
Jan 22 @ 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Knit & Natter @ Newbury Library | England | United Kingdom
Knit & Natter at Burghfield Library Drop in and bring your knitting with you. Starts Wednesday 16 May, then fortnightly on Wednesdays, 2.30-4.30 pm. For
3:00 pm Newbury Ecobrickers @ Lock, Stock and Barrel
Newbury Ecobrickers @ Lock, Stock and Barrel
Jan 22 @ 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Newbury Ecobrickers @ Lock, Stock and Barrel | England | United Kingdom
An Ecobrick is a plastic bottle packed to a set density with used, clean and dry plastic to achieve a building block that can be
3:30 pm Quick Craft @ Theale Library @ Theale Library
Quick Craft @ Theale Library @ Theale Library
Jan 22 @ 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm
Quick Craft @ Theale Library @ Theale Library | Theale | England | United Kingdom
Quick Craft for under 11 years Wednesdays, 3.30-4.45pm at Theale Library No charge but voluntary donations welcome. For more information, please contact the library. http://info.westberks.gov.uk/article/30287
7:30 pm Robert Burns, National Bard, Lad... @ St Mary's Church, Hamstead Marshall
Robert Burns, National Bard, Lad... @ St Mary's Church, Hamstead Marshall
Jan 22 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Robert Burns, National Bard, Lad o’ Pairts @ St Mary's Church, Hamstead Marshall | Hamstead Marshall | England | United Kingdom
On Wednesday 22 January 2020 at 7.30pm St Mary’s Hamstead Marshall will host a Speakers’ Corner. During the evening cold drinks, and a taste of

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post

e-newsletter 

for local, positive news, events, jobs, recipes, recommendations & more.

Covering: Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage,   Lambourn, Newbury, Thatcham & Theale