InterRailing is the green, affordable way to see Europe by train. Our InterRail advice guide has some top tips for you to make the most of your trip and stay secure along the way.
InterRail Advice – Planning
Set an achievable InterRail itinerary
You could try to see as many countries in a month as possible. But then you wouldn’t really be seeing anything much in each place.
Don’t get over ambitious with your itinerary and leave plenty of time to explore and enjoy your locations on the way.
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Book your initial accommodation
If you’re the footloose and fancy-free type who wants to find accommodation as you go, it’s still a good idea to sort out your first night digs while you settle into your new InterRailing mode and start the trip relaxed.
Check out local festivals
Wherever and whenever you’re planning to go, they are bound to be some colourful, exciting, and sometimes downright odd festivals happening while you’re travelling. From the Venice Carnival to Greek Orthodox Easter or even the eccentric Guca trumpet festival in Serbia, local celebrations can be among the most memorable part of your trip, so plan your trip to take them in.
InterRail Advice – Exploring
Don’t just follow the guidebook
Some of the best experiences are those that you simply stumble across. A ‘hidden’ square in Rome, an authentic tapas bar in Madrid – it’s always a treat to discover these gems by yourself.
Avoid museum overload
Let’s face it, Europe is blessed with some of the world’s finest museums and art galleries. But even if you’re the most avid culture vulture, an InterRail trip consisting of one museum visit after another will soon become tiring. You don’t need to see everything in one trip, and indeed it would be impossible – pick a couple of key highlights in each location and stick to these. Leave yourself time to breathe.
Follow local recommendations
Your guidebook is not the last word on local knowledge. Ask a taxi driver or your hotel front desk where their favourite restaurant or bar is.
Explore outside of the capital cities
The people are likely to be friendlier, the food more authentic, the prices lower and the pace less hectic. Get outside of the big cities and see another side of the countries you visit. Be responsible , respect local customs and people. Ask people before taking their photograph and smile, it goes a long way. And follow Green Abode’s eco travel tips abroad to help your trip be a responsible one.
InterRail Advice – Money saving
Save money by taking sleeper trains
Plan your journey well by taking sleeper trains to take the sting out of some of the longer journeys. A couchette bunk or cabin will be cheaper than a hotel and will make sure you get some sleep so don’t ruin the next day. Trying to go really cheap and do an overnighter in a standard train seat is guaranteed to give you a bad next day.
Have picnic lunches
You don’t need to eat out twice a day. Buy some bread, cheese and fruit from a local store and have a cheap, fresh picnic lunch to save loads of cash.
Get a city travel pass card
Most major European cities offer city passes, like the Paris Visite pass or the I amsterdam card, specially designed for tourists to access their public transport systems. They’re a great way of saving money on getting around, and many also offer free or discounted entrance to city museums and attractions. Ask at local tourist information offices or at public transport kiosks when you get to your destination.
Avoid using taxis
Hopping into taxis may be convenient, but it’s a sure fire way to eat up your budget. Public transport is generally a lot cheaper in Europe than it is in the UK, especially in Eastern Europe, and is a great way to get to see how the locals get around, too.
InterRail Advice – Packing
Pack light Trust us on this one. You don’t need 5 pairs of long trousers and a spare wooly jumper ‘just in case’. And don’t pack dozens of t-shirts. Buy these as souvenirs as you go round and wash clothes on the go. You’ll be doing a fair bit of walking – to and from trains and accommodation so a heavy bag will soon become a real bore. Take a look at our guide to essential InterRail items for some advice on what you will definitely need.
Leave some space in your bag
As well as packing light, make sure you don’t fill your bag up to bursting point – you’ll need some space for souvenirs.
Don’t keep all your money in one place If you get your wallet pinched you’ll need some back-up cash stashed elsewhere.
Keep backup lists
Have the number for lost and stolen credit cards in your mobile phone and in another place (not your wallet). Likewise with all your important numbers, have them on a paper backup list.
Photocopy your documents
Take a photocopy of your passport and other important travel documents and keep them somewhere safe (not in your wallet).
Use electronic storage
You can even go one step further and store scans of important travel documents and lists of important numbers electronically in the “cloud” such as Google Docs, Apple iCloud or Windows SkyDrive.
Just because you’re on holiday, it doesn’t mean you can’t follow the same basic safety rules that you would at home. If that dark city alleyway in Prague looks a bit dodgy, then give it a miss.
Save money on Interrail Passes
You will want to save money on your Interrail pass before you head off on your journey. Buying direct from Interrail can work out better in some cases, however, depending on where you’re travelling and the latest offers, it may work out cheaper elsewhere.
Check out The Train Hacker’s guide to Interrail pass discount codes and deals before you purchase your ticket. Grab yourself a bargain before you set off!
The most important thing is that you have a great time on your European rail adventure. Above all of our InterRail advice, the best thing is to use common sense. Like anywhere, there is a handful of people around looking to exploit travellers. Generally speaking, however, Europe is a safe place.
Enjoy your trip!