So last summer a couple of friends and I wanted to go on holiday to celebrate graduating from university. Europe was our destination and after a bit of research it seemed clear to us that the easiest, and ultimately cheapest, way of travelling around Europe was to interrail. So I decided to write this blog post to give a few tips on how to plan an interrail trip…
The Interrail Website
The Interrail website is super easy to use and can be found here. You can select a language and currency to suit your needs, and when you are ready create an account to start booking. As well as selling the passes and train tickets, it also provides a lot of information to help you plan your interrail journey.
Choosing a Pass
Interrail have a variety of passes on offer so can can chose whichever one best suits your needs. There are three main categories: Global Pass, One Country Pass or Premium Pass. The Premium Pass is used for travel in Spain and Italy, and the One Country Pass is, as the name suggests, used for one country only. We chose the Global Pass as this allows travel in up to 30 countries, and we wanted to see as much of Europe as we could fit in!
Within this category there are again various options depending on how you want to travel. We chose the “travel on 15 days within a period of 1 month” option because it would allow us to see a lot of cities but also spend a couple of days in each place. It also means you can stay in Europe for slightly longer than a month. We did this by flying out to our first destination a few days before our Pass started and flying out of our final destination a few days after our Pass ended, effectively getting two cities extra within our month of travel.
We planned our route based on a few of key places we really wanted to go to: Stockholm, Berlin, Krakow and Montreux. Having a few places in mind is helpful when planning a route, as you get an idea of a route just by looking at a map. Interrail help with this by providing an interactive map on their website, as well as a table of train times between popular cities.
One of the main perks of planning a route this way is that you may stay in places you hadn’t thought of, but end up having a great time visiting. Our route was as follows: Oslo, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Bratislava, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Zurich, Montreux and Geneva. Eventually I will write a blog post about each city.
Some train companies in Europe allow you to just get a ticket at the station and jump on the train (providing that train company has links with Interrail). However, some train companies require you to make reservations before the day of travel. This can be done easily via the interrail website. If you sign up to their reservation service you just need to provide them with the date/destination you want to travel on/to, and they’ll book the best train for you depending on your requirements (class, window/aisle, sleeper etc.). There is a small fee for this service but it is, in my opinion, completely worth the money. It means you don’t have to worry about contacting the various train companies for each country to book your tickets – just sit back and let Interrail do it all for you! It certainly took a lot of pressure out of booking the holiday!
We also found that sleeper trains were a great way to save money on accommodation. We got sleeper trains between Prague and Krakow, and Krakow and Bratislava. Although lacking certain luxuries that staying in a hostel would provide, sleeper trains are cheaper than most hostels and travelling overnight allows you to maximise your city exploring time during the day. And if you’re lucky, your sleeper train may even provide you with breakfast!
Overall, Interrail was an excellent way to explore Europe and I would highly recommend using their service. I will definitely be using them next time I go travelling around Europe!