Have you been dreaming of spending each day in a different city, exploring the smallest towns of Italy, whilst eating the most authentic foods. Taking long train rides through the open fields of Holland or the maintains of Bulgaria, arriving at a new landscape every time. Then I suggest you get yourself an inter-rail ticket.
So to get you up to date…
What is inter-railing?
The beauty of a single inter-railing ticket is that it allows you to get trains across Europe for up to a month. This means you can choose from 30 countries to spend your summer in this year. All you need to do is get on a train and show your pre- paid ticket to the conductor.
How does it work?
Your ticket allows you to go between the countries of Europe, or explore just one for up to a month. But be careful because you can only enter each country once in that month. All you need to do is fill in your travel destinations as you go, in the sheet provided.
Is it only international trains?
Your ticket allows you to travel not only from country to country but up and down the countries of your choice.
What to pack?
See my page on What to pack – when going travelling.
When is best to go?
The ticket allows you to travel at any time of the year but due to it being a popular tourism time, the trains are much busier throughout the summer months. So things tend to be a little bit more expensive and some trains may be overcrowded but don’t worry these things won’t ruin your trip. There isn’t really a best time to go so it really only depends on when’s best for you.
How much money will I need to take?
This really depends on how much you have and how much you are willing to spend. I mean I did it comfortably on just under a Thousand pounds for a whole summer month (including a flight home from Madrid). I’d recommend the best way of doing it is setting a daily budget, mine was 40 euros, but didn’t always spend that much. I’d also recommend taking a travel debit card that has only your set travel allowance on. You can get one of these from your local post office and easily top it up as you go, from your phone or other device. This will allow you to withdraw and spend in different currencies. For more advice, see my page on budgeting your travels.
Now this is something they don’t tell you when buying the ticket. But some trains require a booking fee, sometimes up to 40 euros. Now this is a real bummer and set me back with my allowance and only really happens on trains in and out of France, Italy and Spain. It may only be due to the fact it was the summer months but I recommend checking trains before you get on.
I, being a typical lazy Brit, didn’t learn any languages when travelling so found myself feeling a bit rude and ignorant. This was probably the only thing I wish I’d prepared more for. Now don’t get me wrong you don’t need to be fluent in all the languages of Europe or need to be committing to hours of research before you go. I recommend just taking a bit of time on the train into a country learning, hello/ goodbye and your P’s and Q’s.
Where to stay?
Now I spent the whole month going from hostel to hostel. Might have slept in a train station or two and even a restaurant floor but hey at least they were free. The cheapest way to do it is to firstly stay outside of major cities, this could knock off up to 10 euros a night from you bill. I would also recommend finding where to stay before getting on your next train but It’s not a big issue if you don’t, I never did.
If you’re doing it on the cheap, I’d also suggest sharing rooms with as many people as they let you because this will bring down the price majorly. But be careful with your belongings.
Another suggestion is camping. If you’re the type of person who loves the outdoors and a little fresh air, then this is a great way to save money and live off the grid for a month.
Is my bag safe?
Now a big concern for all travellers is, is my stuff safe? I personally didn’t see or hear of any bodies stuff going missing but that’s not to say don’t be careful. For a couple of euros, most hostels offer a locker to keep your valuables in. So I would definitely recommend using these when you can. I’d also recommend using things such as money-belts or fanny packs to keep your valuables in.
Overall, inter-railing was a great experience for me, it was my introduction to a travelling lifestyle and I fell I love with it immediately. So, go out there and give it a try for yourself.