14 cities in 25 days. Our interrailing trip was a whirlwind of different countries and cultures but an experience that I could not recommend highly enough. Originally unable to agree on where we wanted to jet off to, going interrailing provided the perfect compromise and was definitely much more exciting than a standard 10 day get away to a beach. If we were to do the whole thing again there are undoubtedly a few things that we would do differently, but also a couple that we think worked really well. That is were this post comes in – learn from our mistakes, heed some of our tips but most importantly buy your ticket and get excited for a holiday of a lifetime!
- Choose the right ticket
There is a huge price difference in all the available interrail tickets so its definitely worth having a plan of where you want to go before you purchase. Initially, Rory and I were tempted to buy the unlimited travel within one month pass to give us flexibility, but after planning our route realised we only needed 15 travel days. This meant we saved over 100 euro by buying the 15 travel days within a month option. Unless you want to visit just about every city in Europe I really don’t think the unlimited pass is necessary.
- Get a travel money card
Using your debit card abroad will often mean having to pay foreign currency fees to your bank. One way to avoid these charges, without having to carry a lot of cash around, is to get a travel money card. There are lots out there on the market and after careful comparison we selected the travelex money card. We bought euros which were loaded onto the card and then used it at all cash machines, shops and restaurants without any additional charge.
- Spend the extra cash for free cancellation
Before leaving we booked accommodation for every stop, but in most instances paid a little bit extra to get free cancellation. This means that your plan is flexible, yet you also have the security of a guaranteed place to stay. The key is to make sure you are aware of how late you can cancel; some can be cancelled on the day others are much less lenient.
- Don’t assume hostels are the cheapest option
On the subject of accommodation, hostels are not always the way forward. After a not so glamorous stay at a campsite in Florence we quickly discovered that lastminute.com was our friend. On sites like these we found 4* hotels often have great deals a couple of days in advance for prices similar to hostels. Take some friendly advice from a mosquito bitten traveller and cancel that campsite! For a similar price enjoy the privacy and luxury of a hotel instead of worrying about the weirdo you might be sharing with!
- Pack wisely – you don’t need everything but the kitchen sink
It seems pretty obvious but the lighter you can make your backpack the better. It took me three attempts to finally reach an acceptable weight and even then I didn’t need everything I brought with me. Prime example being the wedge heels that I wore a grand total of once – girls just don’t bother! Purchasing some packing cubes from the internet also makes it much easier to organise your clothes and belongings.
- Use the public transport
There is no doubt that if you want to see all the sites of the bigger European cities, like Rome and Berlin, spending a few euro on a day pass is the best way to ensure you can easily navigate the city.
- Don’t bother with unnecessary seat reservations
Save yourself the extra euros and only make seat reservations when they are compulsory. We never had any trouble getting two seats together – so long as you are at the train station in good time there shouldn’t be any problems and you can put the euros saved towards an ice cream for later!
- Have some kind of budget
Admittedly, having a budget and sticking to it are two entirely different things. However, if you even have a rough guide as to how much you can spend each day means that you won’t find yourself short at the end of your trip. If you do end up with spare cash in the last few cities you can always treat yourself totally guilt free.
- Make the most of your time
Cheap beer and free poured spirits means it can be tempting to stay out late, but if your schedule is anything like ours, with so little time in each location and so much to see, you’ve got to power through that hang over!
- Bring something to do for train travel
An easy holiday novel or a couple of magazines are a must to pass the time. Although, on a 4+ hour train Netflix can be an absolute life saver. An iPad, an earphone splitter and a downloaded season of something will help make the time fly.