Well! I’m glad you asked! I’d first heard of Interrailing 2 years ago when my friend Luke set off around the continent for a month or so, I fell in love with seeing his Instagram posts where he’d be in a different place every few days – goals or what!? At the age of 17, I knew it was something that I’d want to do but I didn’t have the money to do so nor the confidence, or someone to come with me. My first year at University changed both of these points. I was lucky enough to have spare money leftover from my Student Finance after paying my rent which could fund the majority of my trip, and I gained a budding travel companion in my flatmate, Bex. From here, we were set, and a lot of planning followed!
I figured I’d make an overarching post answering a lot of FAQ’s about my Interrail trip which I think would help anyone who is thinking of doing a trip themselves.
What is Interrailing?
Interrailing is where you buy an individual ticket (options of ticket type are available, I’ll talk about this later) which allows you to travel on any train (a few exceptions) across 30 countries in Europe within your time constraints. The website shows the many ticket options: one country tickets (ranging from £39-£144 depending on country and duration), and global tickets (ranging from £186-£444 depending on duration) where you can explore any of the 30 countries. It is worth mentioning that people under 27 get a sizeable discount on ticket prices and that there is always a sale every Spring where tickets are around £50 cheaper! We chose a ‘global travel on 5 days in 15‘ ticket which cost us £175 during the spring sale, this meant that within a 15 day period, we had 5 allocated travel days for us to use; we can go on as many trains as we like during each day.
How do you choose where to go?
I printed out a map of Europe and put dots on each place that I was interested in going to; baring in mind that Interrailing lets you go to places which are lesser travelled and harder to get to in mainstream ways. Bex was indifferent as to where we went and trusted my opinion of locations as I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to Europe! I then drew lines between the closest places until we came to a logical route: Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Bled, Milan. This decision was also aided by the prices of flights in and outbound of the destinations. I found the cheapest flights, as per usual, on skyscanner by looking at a variety of local airports e.g. it was cheaper to fly to Prague from Manchester, and from Milan into Liverpool.
Where did you stay?
We stayed in Airbnb’s as they were more often than not, actually cheaper or around the same price as a Hostel (baring in mind that we halved the price for each night between us) and you get more privacy and a sense of belonging in an actual house to yourself. Our first two countries were spent in shared apartments where we had a private room to ourselves, but the latter four countries were spent in a private apartment that we owned! The average price for a night was £28 and we booked all of our stays in advance so we had nothing to stress about during our time away. When looking at Airbnb’s, I’d emphasise looking for somewhere that is close to public transport – you’re likely to find cheaper flats out of the centre but you don’t want somewhere too far away as it’ll inconvenience you.
What did you do/what would you recommend?
Like the stupidly organised person I am, I cracked open a spreadsheet and planned what we’d like to spend our time doing each day to make sure that we were doing/seeing everything that we wanted to – you don’t have to do this, but it’s just in my nature! For each place, I’d recommend these things mostly:
- Prague – taking a free tour of the Castle District, and seeing the Old Town Square at night.
- Vienna – exploring Belvedere Palace, and spotting as many cathedrals as you can!
- Budapest – the bar crawl we went on was the highlight of our trip, and of course taking a day in the Szechenyi Baths.
- Zagreb – the 360 Bar was where we spent a lot of our time, Capuciner is a fab place for food.
- Ljubljana – the Castle is a must do! The funicular ride up the hill is amazing.
- Milan – obviously the Duomo, drinking an Italian Coffee inside Sforzesco Castle is amazing too!
What problems did you have?
Be VERY careful when writing in your ticket as you can’t scribble out writing on it! Also, make sure you have the contact details of whoever’s flat/hostel/hotel you are staying in; we got locked out of our apartment in Zagreb, and we had an ant infestation in our room in Ljubljana!
What advice would you give?
Make sure you fill out your ticket properly, download the Interrail app to make sure you know when your trains are departing, keep in contact with your accommodation provider, have the correct insurance documents accessible, always know where your passport is, use packing cubes in your backpack (it’s a lot easier and limits what you pack and therefore have to carry!), take lots of photos and have an amazing time!