So, you’re thinking about doing a bit of Interrailing are you? Nice one. It’s pretty cool. You’ll love it.
But before you go, have a read through this list of handy tips we picked up from our own Interrail adventure. We wouldn’t want you to make the same mistakes we did.
If you have any more to add send us a comment below or tweet us at @allroundermag.
Plan your route well: Think about how long you need to stay in each spot and what there is there. Some places are perfect for an afternoon visit, others need a bit longer.
Understand your travel documents: Double check all of your additional rail tickets before you leave. If you’re missing one or don’t understand the rules of the Interrail pass it can be pretty expensive in ticket costs.
Prepare for all seasons: The weather changes massively across Europe based on geography. One day you can be in rainstorm in the freezing cold, the next you can be in the sweltering sun. Pack well.
Don’t get charged: Most banks charge you for using your card abroad. Check with yours before you go. Using contactless is easy, but not when it’s costing you money every time you use it.
Know your currencies: Many places, like Switzerland, don’t use the euro, which is a hassle if the rest of your trip does. Make sure you don’t take out more money than you need to, you won’t be able to use it again unless you’re going back there.
Get a good bag: Get a rucksack that has lots of zip pockets. Cheap ones tend to only have one or two. It’s pretty handy to have all of your documents in specified areas for when you need them. Otherwise you spend most of it scrambling around. Especially when you’re staying in multiple hotels.
Check your train stations: A lot of places have multiple stations that may sound similar. Traveling five miles across a city in the pouring rain to find your hotel isn’t fun.
Download the Wikipedia app: It has a feature where you can save articles to your phone. You can pretty much create your own personalised tour guide for whatever route you’re taking. Not only can you save the information on the places you’re staying but there’s a wealth of information about wildlife, geography, laws and you can even just save stuff to read if you’re bored at a train station. Saves taking a bag of travel books.
Research your hostels: Cheap hostels are cheap for a reason. They’re either weird, a bit dirty, in a dodgy place or have some strange clientele. If you’re the kind of person that only likes to stay in the Four Seasons then make sure you research the place before you get there. Hostel prices vary enormously based on the location you find them, so what may sound expensive in one place may be really cheap in another.
Protect your personals: Keep your passport and your bank cards close at all times. If anything happens, like losing your rucksack, you can always get home.
Don’t worry about fashion: You can pack your best shoes and a few shirts, but if you’re spending your day walking 10 miles around a city that’s largely made up of hills, you’ll put your trainers on and never look back.
Snack wisely. Italian vending machines are really cheap and amazingly well stocked. A lot cheaper than the little newsagents at the train stations.
Be safe: Whether you’re travelling alone or with friends, Europe is a big place, even the nicest most idyllic spots are still dangerous. If you’re walking around with a backpack on would-be thieves are unlikely to miss the fact you’re carrying some nice things on you. Make sure you use main lit streets at night. No matter how nice the architecture is.
Learn the language: Well, at least try to learn a few phrases from the country you’re in. Yes, a lot of people in the big cities will speak English, but when you’re venturing further afield in desperate need of a medical supplies it’ll save a lot of time. It’s polite as well.
Research your tipping: Some places don’t expect a tip, some places rely on it for the staff to get paid.
Read. Read as much as you can. Get a Kindle, carrying books around is pretty annoying when you have them on your back all day. With your new-found calmness and clarity of thought you’ll be able to enjoy a book like never before.
Use Twitter: Tweet the Interrail team if you have any questions. They’re damn helpful and are more than happy to help out.
Take a good camera: You’ll see things whilst you’re away that are amazing, beautiful, completely weird and just stuff you need to prove to people back home. If there’s ever a time to get into photography, it’s on an Interrail trip.
Speak to other Interrailers: They’re a nice sort and they’ll probably love speaking to a fellow traveller. They may even be able to give you tips on places you’re going, or you can reminisce over the weird hostel you both stayed in where the owner made you answer a load of questions before giving you the keys. No? Just us then.
Picture credits: Pond5