Guide to Inter-Railing and How to Save Money
So, what is Inter-Railing I hear you say! Inter-Railing is basically where you buy one train ticket that lasts for a set amount of time (usually one month), and you can then use it to travel right around Europe. Sounds pretty neat, huh? The best thing about Inter-Railing is that a one month ticket only costs £380 – just think of how many places you can visit with it, and how much cheaper it is than driving around, or even flying. Inter-Railing is a really good way for students to travel – it’s also ideal for gap year students too.
The trains around Europe tend to run on time, and they’re also pretty reliable. Travelling by train is pretty chilled out when compared to flying – or even driving in a country that you’re unfamiliar with.
Where can you go?
You can go pretty much anywhere in Europe. Don’t let this fool you into thinking that you’ll go everywhere in Europe, because one month simply isn’t enough time to do this. Choose carefully the cities and places you’d like to visit. Remember you can travel to world famous land marks, beaches, chalets in the mountains, where ever you want to go really!
Remember there are two different passes; the Global Pass allows you to travel between 30 different countries by rail, whilst the One Country pass is only for use within the country you purchase it. Individuals under the age of 26 who wish to go Inter-Railing are entitled to the Youth Pass – this offers a massive 35% off the cost of the ticket.
Plan your journey
Although the allure of travelling Europe as a free spirit is pretty strong for a lot of people, it’s a good idea to plan your journey meticulously before you depart. By planning where you’re going you’ll ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the sights you wanted to see – you’ll also ensure that you’ve booked tickets on trains and so on.
Going Inter-Railing without first planning a journey is not advisable, but it can be done (if you’re brave!).
Starting your journey
Unfortunately an Inter-Rail ticket can’t be used in the UK, if you purchase it here. It seems a bit silly, but the main reason is to stop people buying Inter-Rail tickets then using them as tickets to commute to work every day. This means it’s a better idea to take a cheap flight out to the continent in order to start your Inter-Rail adventure.
It doesn’t really matter where on the continent you go to start your adventure – but the best idea is just to go to the country offering the cheapest flights. Sometimes you can pick up flights to regional airports in France, Spain or even Poland for less than £50 on budget carriers like RyanAir or EasyJet.
Although you’re entitled to travel between 30 different countries when using the Global Pass, you’re not guaranteed a seat. Make sure you take the time to map out your journey before you depart, booking seats on trains where possible. In the summer months trains tend to be pretty busy across on the continent as a lot of people like the idea of Inter-Railing. To avoid disappointment make sure you book seats.
There may be some train services that you’re not entitled to travel on for free, so make sure you’re clear which trains you can and can’t use with your Inter-Rail pass. If you do end up on a train that you’re not entitled to use for free you may end up having to pay the full ticket price if a conductor catches you, or a penalty.
Learn the lingo
Europe is a vast place made up of many different countries and cultures. There are lots of different languages spoken around Europe, and locals always appreciate it when you make the effort to utter a few words in their language. Invest in a pocket phrase book before you depart, ideally a book for each country you’re going to travel through is the best bet!
Finding somewhere to rest your head during your Inter-Railing adventure needn’t be expensive. If you’ve got the budget you can always opt to stay in hotels where possible. If you don’t have the budget though, why not look into staying in hostels? They’re not always the most pleasant places, but they sure are cheap!
If hotels or hostels don’t take your fancy you can always take a small tent with you – you can’t beat a bit of camping on the continent! Most camp sites tend to be pretty cheap too, which makes camping a really good way of staying during your trip. It’s best to research the different camp sites you want to stay at before you travel, so you know exactly where they are and how much they’re going to cost.
You can always sleep on the train if you fancy – but be careful not to miss your stop! Sleeping on the train is very cheap indeed, but it can be a bit noisy at times. You probably won’t want to sleep on the train every night, but it is a good way to save a bit of money now and again.
What to take
Here’s a short list of the things you should take when embarking on an Inter-Railing adventure:
- An Inter-Rail ticket (duh!)
- An Inter-Rail map
- A rucksack with a padlock on it
- Your passport
- Travel insurance
- An EHIC health card
- Sun cream
- Any medication you require
- Sleeping bag
- A tent if you’re planning on camping
- A warm coat
- A mobile phone and charger
- A travel plug adaptor
- A couple of debit cards/credit cards in case you need to withdraw more money
Inter-Railing is a fantastic way to see Europe on a shoe string budget. If you’ve never heard of Inter-Railing then perhaps it’s something you should look into today – start planning your very own European adventure!