InterRailing is the green, affordable way to explore Europe. Rail travel in Europe is great fun, but you’ll need to pack carefully to make the most of the trip. Here’s Green Abode’s guide to the essential InterRailing kit you really shouldn’t leave at home.
If you have a fixed itinerary for your InterRail trip then you’re best off downloading and printing the relevant chapters from Lonely Planet online. That way you won’t have to lug around the whole book when you just need bits of it.
If you fancy the whole guidebook, then Lonely Planet and Rough Guides are still the best.
For in-depth advice on destinations in Eastern Europe, Bradt Guides are hard to beat.
Compare Interrail Pass prices and discount code deals from Interrail, Voyages SNCF and My Interrail.
Get the latest offers on Youth, Adult, Senior and Family Interrail Passes including:
- Interrail Global Pass
- Interrail Italy
- Interrail Spain
- Interrail Benelux
- Interrail France
- Interrail Germany
Swiss Army knife
The humble Swiss Army knife is an essential bit of InterRailing kit. If nothing else, the corkscrew will win you friends, the knife will butter your French stick and you never know when the screwdriver will come in handy… Avoid models with dozens of blades as they are too bulky and will wear a hole in your pocket. The classic Tourist design is ideal for InterRailing.
Unless you’re actually planning to do a lot of hiking, avoid the stereotypical backpacker look and go for a combination backpack/holdall. Put it on your back for long walks across town to find your accommodation, carry it in your hand while negotiating narrow train corridors, and sling over your shoulder when checking into your digs.
Lightweight sleeping bag
Go for a 1-2 season sleeping bag unless you’re planning on actual camping outside of the summer months. Find the lightest one you can afford and that packs up smallest. Your sleeping bag will take up a fair amount of space in your luggage so the smaller the better.
A padlock on your luggage will help stop opportunistic theft. It’s also a good idea to take a spare padlock to fit to your hostel locker in case it’s broken or inadequate.
Lightweight waterproof jacket
Even if you’re InterRailing in the summer, evenings can get cool and yes, it does rain sometimes, even in the Med, so a lightweight waterproof is a must. The weather in northern Europe and in mountainous areas is even more unpredictable.
A sarong can be used as towel, light blanket, picnic rug and skirt. It might seem a bit hippy drippy but this is a really useful bit of kit.
Leave your thick, fluffy bath towels at home, they use up way too much space and take too long to dry. Get a fold-awayable travel towel instead.
Solar powered charger
Keep your mobile, iPod and other gadgets topped up for free with an eco-friendly solar powered charger. Perfect if you don’t have the right charger to hand or can’t find a power point while you’re on the move.
You might have a camera on your phone but it’ll be no substitute for a nifty compact digital camera with a zoom. You want to capture some of those classic InterRail moments properly, don’t you?
You’re bound to need a piece of paper at some point. Moleskine make superb soft backed notebooks, which are pocket sized and ideal for the job, but there are plenty of cheaper imitations out there too.
Solar powered torch
You’ll need a torch if you’ve got to make an early start and don’t want to switch the lights on in a hostel dorm, or are in a sleeper carriage and can’t find your toothbrush. Get a solar powered torch and you won’t have to worry about batteries.
Keep your passport, travel documents and a stash of money in a money belt worn close to the skin. Buy one with a good fabric strip that sits next to the skin, otherwise it’ll chafe and get sweaty.
And on the subject of chafing… Talc is a good old-fashioned tried and tested anti-chafing agent that will come in handy if you’re doing a lot of trudging around in the summertime. We won’t go into too much detail, but this one could be a lifesaver…
It’s always a good idea to ensure that you have some money for the first port of call. If you’re travelling from the UK, it’s likely you will need Euro notes and coins. You may need for something essential like water or a coffee, so ensure you have some low denominations.
Remember, you’ll never be lonely on an InterRail trip if you’re the one with the bottle opener, cigarette lighter or corkscrew.
If you want some advice on the likely weather for your InterRail trip – take a look at these European climate guides for more info.