7 Tips for Planning an InterRail Trip in Europe
These 7 Tips for Planning an InterRail Trip in Europe are an introduction into the types of things you need to start thinking about way before you actually set off. With more than 40 years of history and a place as one of the best-loved travel experiences in all of Europe, InterRail remains a truly popular choice for people eager to check out the wonders of the continent. It allows travelers to range from the bubbling baths of Budapest in the east to the Atlantic reaches of Lisbon in the west, the colds of Scandinavia to the baked beaches of Greece. Take a look at these 7 Tips for Planning an InterRail Trip in Europe for anyone planning to take the adventure….
Consider your different pass options
Over the four decades of InterRail in Europe, more and more versions of the famous pass have been added to the roster. Today, deciding which to get is perhaps the single most important consideration for travelers hitting the rails. Start by deciding between a Global and One Country Pass – the former offers travel over 30 countries, the latter offers travel within a single country (or, occasionally, a specific region). Then it’s a question of picking how many days you’d like to travel. The top option includes a whole month of continuous non-stop travel (not a single ticket worry along the way!), while cheaper passes allow for five, seven, 10 or 15 days of travel within a given period.
Read up about surcharges
The reality of InterRail surcharges have caused much controversy over the years. Travelers have learned to abhor the extra fees found hidden in many a country’s transport system, while others are simply shocked to find that the hundreds of euros they’ve already forked out might not actually cover those lengthy night trains or high-speed connections in the itinerary. Unfortunately, IR surcharges are here to stay, and anyone thinking about hitting the rails should be sure to check if they’ll need to pay up. Additional costs include seat reservations, supplements and overnight charges. These are common on the Thalys lines across France and the Low Countries, Italian high-speed rail and international connections through Iberia to name just three.
Learn some useful phrases
Alright, so you might be crossing new borders every day while InterRailing, flitting between French-speaking counties and German towns, Slavic cities and even delving into the uber-confusing land of Cyrillic lettering (everywhere from Bulgaria to Bosnia uses that!). However, once you’ve got a rough idea of where it is you’ll be travelling, it will definitely pay off to swat up on just a little of the local lingo for each destination. Not only will that get the bonjour, grazie and dzien dobry flowing, but it should give you a little edge over the other tourists on the ground, and could even help you out of some sticky situations – who knows? Learning some of the local lingo will be one of the most rewarding things you can take from this list of 7 Tips for Planning an InterRail Trip in Europe.
Don’t neglect nature
Most people who head off on an InterRail trip think in terms of cities. Hopping from Paris to Brussels, The Dam down to Cologne, Rome across to Athens, and Barcelona to Madrid. But as common (and as downright fun) as these journeys are, it’s always worth remembering that those Global Passes can get you to a whole host of other spots on the continent. That could mean the summertime ski glaciers of Austria, the lakes of the French Alps, the Sierras of Andalusia, the deep forests of eastern Poland, the craggy coastlines of Dalmatia in Croatia, the schist villages of Portugal – the list goes on! So, rather than just plotting an urban itinerary that checks off all the major capitals around, why not use these 7 Tips for Planning an InterRail Trip in Europe to delve into some of the wilder, natural places?
Book hostels ahead in major cities
If you do opt to city hop, or are thinking of hitting just a smattering of the continent’s bucket-list metropolises, whether that means the pizza-scented streets of Rome or the cobbled boulevards of Madrid, it’s worth thinking about booking accommodation ahead of time. Metro areas like London, Rome and Paris hail in as some of the most-visited destinations on the planet. That means their budget digs get booked up fast. Real fast. Too many times have spontaneous travelers been denied a bed in their hostel of choice because they’ve not realized quite how bustling Europe’s major towns can get during the high season, sacrificing prime locations close to the Colosseum or Montmartre, the Sagrada or Big Ben.
Pack as light as possible
InterRail can be a grueling business. Yes, a lot of the time you’ll be sat snug on a train seat in an air-conditioned carriage, watching as the rolling hills of Bohemia, the Alpine mounts of Bavaria or the shimmering beaches of the French Riviera roll by. However, once that locomotive pulls up at the station and you’re deposited onto the platform, you’re on your own. And there’s no cheap tuk-tuks in Europe either, meaning you won’t want to be hauling a hefty ton of clothes and gadgets in tow as you search for that hostel or campsite. The upshot is to pack as light as you can, ensuring that everything is truly needed, and resigning yourself to just a couple of trips to the launderette along the way.
Get the right Gear
In addition to packing light, thinking about precisely what gear you’ll need to haul around the continent with you is another central aspect of proper InterRail prep. First up will be weather considerations. If you’re going to attempt the fabled ‘WinterRail’, then you’re going to need a whole different wardrobe than you would in the sultry summer months: woolly jumpers, snow coats, big boots and maybe even ski gear! Traveling from springtime onwards is definitely easier, allowing for lighter clothes in the form of tees and shorts. Oh, and remember to add on the snorkeling stuff and swim shorts (Hawaiian shirts go down particularly well on the beaches too) if you’re heading to the coast!
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