Interrail lets you travel around most of Europe by train with one ticket. Do you want to go to France, but also Hungary, and also Croatia, and let’s not forget about the Nordics! Then this might be the best choice for you. Prepare yourself for long rides on the floor of a train, sleeping in hostel rooms with 10 others and never feeling quite clean or sure about what you are doing next.
The summer of 2015 my friend and I decided to take three weeks off to see Europe. We bought our interrail tickets, planned our trip, learned what we needed to pack and found accommodation for our first nights. We traveled from Finland, through Sweden to Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris, San Sebastian, Barcelona, Montpellier, Marseille, Nice, The Cinque Terre, Rome, and Venezia. We switched between sleeping at hostels, other people’s apartments and night trains. We were tired, we cried, we were dirty but we had fun. A lot of it. Possibly the hardest but most memorable trip I’ve ever been on.
Wow, sounds exhausting but cool! Any tips on making it easier?
First, check my article on how to pack right – you don’t want to do this part wrong.
Second, plan well. It’s not fun to come to a new city after 10 in the evening without a place to sleep. Try to fix accommodation at the latest on the train to your destination. Download and use apps for finding hostels, couchsurfers, planning your train trips (Interrail has their own), and finding people or things to do. If you are traveling with others, talk about what you expect from your trip and don’t be scared to split up at some point if you want to see different places. One of the hardest tasks, in the beginning, is choosing the kind of ticket you want, since you get to travel only certain amounts with certain tickets. Yet another thing to keep track of.
Third, know that this isn’t a luxurious getaway. There won’t be separate bathrooms, there won’t always be time to shower, there won’t always be clothes that don’t smell a little bit odd and you will be a bit tired/hungry/hangover a lot of the time. On top of that, you have a huge backpack on your shoulders and have to worry about not getting robbed. Oh, and talking about getting robbed: be aware of the ways you can be fooled by people in every country you visit. We managed well because we had done our research, only in Rome did a lady manage to trick us into giving her money by pretending to be staff.
Interrailing is popular mostly among young Europeans, but I have heard of grandma’s taking the train from Finland all the way to the southern parts of Europe. Old people get a discount as well! Others have gone through the eastern parts of Europe and a couple of friends started the journey together and later split up on the way. You choose what works best for you!
Have you ever been on an Interrail or Eurail? What was your experience like?