For most people, traveling via train is not their first option. Interrail was created to change that. With their help, people have access to all the countries that are part of the E.U., by acquiring an Interrail pass. So, if your goal is to visit as many countries as you can in a short period of time, Interrail should be your ultimate option.
The first step for such a trip, is, of course, to purchase a ticket. You will be given two choices: a pass that will give you access to every train of a single country or a pass that will be usable for every European country that is working with the Interrail program. It should be noted at this point that people younger than 27 years of age or over 60 years of age, usually have some type of discount when they buy a pass. Moreover, adults that own a pass can bring on the journey up to two kids without paying for any other ticket. Keep in mind, that the best periods to purchase a pass are during big holidays, such as Christmas or Easter, due to the sales that Interrail is offering during those periods of time.
What should you be cautious about?
To begin with, there is no need to buy a first-class ticket. Most of the trains that you will travel with are extremely comfortable and offer the same services for both first and second class (for example, space for luggage, plugs, etc ), so the experience will be the same, no matter where you choose to sit.
In addition, it is essential that you download the Interrail app on your phone. This app will be your best friend for this trip, as it includes the schedules and stops of every train that is working with Interrail, so it will save you time from searching for them on the train station boards. When you have downloaded the app you will notice that some trains (usually the ones that move from one big city to another) are requiring a reservation. If you are not willing to pay upfront for that, you can always search the app and find a train route that will allow you to travel for free. The problem with the free option is that you will have to change trains frequently, in order to reach your destination, but it will give you the chance to explore some new spots and stations that might amaze you with their beauty. On the contrary, the trains that require a reservation will get you straight to your destination without you moving to another train. The choice is in your hands.
How much money do I need for such a trip?
From the moment you get your pass in your hands, the money you will spend depends on your preferences. Firstly, you must choose a country to start from. If you think that your country is not a suitable start (because it’s not near the places you wanna visit, or the trains are in a bad state, etc.), then you will have to pay for an airplane ticket and start from a different country, that is better suited for the trip you have planned. The next step is to pack your bags. On these trips, you have to take as a few things as possible. This is crucial, due to the fact that you will constantly be on the run and you will also be purchasing many souvenirs from the places you visit, so having many bags will make you feel exhausted from the beginning of your adventure.
If you decide to visit a country that has a different currency from the one you are used to, you will have to find a way to convert money. The safest solutions to your problem are: to use an ATM or to make a Revolut card. When you make a withdrawal from an ATM you receive the currency of the country you visited, so you will immediately get cash (it should be noted that it will charge you an extra 1.5 to 4 euros, depending on the country). On the other hand, Revolut is a credit card that is free to obtain and gets linked to your bank account. Their app allows you to transfer money to your card from your account and then change the currency according to your needs, without any extra cost.
Lastly, you have to choose a place to stay in every country you visit. The cheapest solution is to travel at night and sleep on the train, but as the journey progresses you will feel more and more exhausted. So as you can imagine the safest bet is sleeping in hostels. Hostels are extremely cheap and their facilities allow you to save even more money! They offer a kitchen, which means you can cook a meal, which is actually cheaper than eating outside and they have washing machines, which you will need if you haven’t packed many clothes for the trip. Other options you can choose depending on your budget are couch surfing, Airbnb, hotels, or camping.
What makes the experience unforgettable?
It might sound crazy to you, but most of the memories you will have after a trip like this will be the mistakes you made. If you don’t get on the wrong train and get kicked out, because they don’t work with Interrail, or you don’t stop at the wrong place in the middle of nowhere because you missed the right one and generally if you are not relaxed and carefree on this adventure you will not enjoy it. So what I have to say to you is ‘Make mistakes’, even if you travel without company, you will catch yourself laughing at every little thing that went wrong and when you finally come back home you will notice that most of the stories you will narrate to your friends will be those of your mistakes and not the cities you visited.