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Thinking of going InterRailing?

Make the most of your InterRailing experience

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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 An InterRail Pass is a type of train ticket that can be used to travel throughout Europe for relatively low cost. The InterRail Global Pass is valid in 30 countries and can be used to travel from country to country. You can get a Flexi pass which allows you to travel on a certain number of days or a continuous pass which allows you to travel on any day you choose. The InterRail One Country Pass can be used for travel within one country only.

What countries can you go InterRailing to?

InterRail passes are valid in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

What's the catch?

  • Although anyone can get an Inter-InterRail Passes are also more expensive for those over the age of 26 years old.
  • You must be resident in Europe to get an InterRail Pass. Most InterRail tickets are only valid on national railways and not on the train systems of private companies.
  • You cannot use an InterRail Pass in the country you live in. This is done to prevent commuters from using InterRail Passes to get to work, college, or school.

How much do the Passes cost?

Global Passes start from €181, and can cost as much as €435. The price varies depending on how many days you wish to travel.

How to keep the cost of InterRailing down

  • Not all train journeys are fully covered by the InterRailing Pass. Some charge a supplement fee for InterRailers. This means you may have to pay extra for your tickets. So, if you are trying to budget, do some research beforehand and find out which trains require the extra supplement. Bear in mind that high speed trains (such as the very popular Eurostar) are more likely to charge a supplement.
  • Some countries and cities are more likely to have supplements than others. Many trains in Italy charge supplements, as do trains in France. Trains in France also have limited amounts of InterRail seats for pass holders. Booking ahead is also strongly advised in Italy. Always pay supplements before boarding the train. Otherwise, you could be fined, and fines tend to cost more than supplements.
  • If you have a Flexi Pass, try to use your travel days for longer journeys or for more than one journey. If you are only going a short distance, it may make more financial sense to spend a few quid on a train ticket rather than using up your Flexi Pass allowance.
  • Travelling at night can work out cheaper. If you board an overnight train after 8pm, only the following day is counted as a travel day.
  • Don’t buy food on trains. It is much, much cheaper to buy your food and drinks in a supermarket before you get on the train.
  • Use hostels to cook in. This will save on the costs of eating out.

How to have fun and be safe

  • Decide beforehand whether you are going to go for the traditional backpack or whether you are going to take a case on wheels. A backpack is convenient, but can be very heavy. A wheelie case is much lighter as you won’t have to lift it. However, you will have to hoist it up and down stairs as you travel around train stations. If you decide to go with the traditional backpack route, make sure that it is a good quality one and that it has padded shoulder straps. Also, practice wearing it once it is packed. If it is too heavy, take stuff out.
  • Travel insurance may seem like a waste of money, but trust us, it is really worth buying.  Someone could rob you; you could lose your stuff; you could get sick etc. Plus, travel insurance tends to be fairly cheap. It’s not expensive like motor insurance or health insurance.
  • Make sure you bring your European Health Card so you are covered for healthcare within the EU.
  • Bring comfortable clothes and raingear. Make sure to include comfortable shoes. High heels aren’t going to cut it. Well, they may cut your feet!
  • Don’t overpack. Remember that you will have to carry your luggage all around Europe.
  • Make a copy of your passport in case it gets stolen.
  • Use a money belt instead of a wallet, as it can be strapped around your body and then be covered with clothing. You can also store your passport and copies of important documents there.

Don't forget to...

  • Plan your journey before you go so that you can make the best of your budget and see everything you want to see.
  • Always check timetables and don’t randomly arrive at a train station hoping to catch a train. Some places may only have one or two trains a day going to them.
  • As much as you can, try to avoid arriving in cities late at night. It will be hard to get your bearings and to find safe accommodation. You’re also always more vulnerable to being robbed or attacked when it is dark and there are not as many people around.
  • Try to put your rucksack away as soon as you arrive into a new place, as carrying a rucksack on your back instantly lets others know that you are a tourist. You could put it into the place you are staying or even in a secure locker at a train station.
  • Buy bottled water. Drinking the local water could make you very sick.
  • Always keep your valuables hidden- preferably on your body, especially when travelling on trains.
  • Border police always come onto trains to check passports at borders. So have your passport ready and be prepared to have your backpack searched. It goes without saying that you should not carry drugs or other illegal items from country to country. This could get you into serious hot water.  
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Published July 12th, 2013
Last updated March 26th, 2017
Tags interrailing travel
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