As you’ll probably see quite a lot on this blog in the upcoming few months, I’m going interrailing around Europe this summer. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for the longest time, and the idea of seeing so many beautiful places in one longish trip is something that I’m incredibly excited about! It’s a really common holiday, especially for students, but it can be a difficult thing to plan. There’s flights, accommodation, European travel, budgeting and itineraries to think about – not to mention the fact that the trip is still supposed to be a holiday! – which can all prove surprisingly time-consuming and tiring. Although I haven’t quite jetted off yet, I have (finally) booked everything, so here’s my top tips on how to arrange your journey interrailing around Europe.
1. Do what you want to do
This might sound like a really obvious point, but it’s worth remembering that it’s your trip and no-one else’s. Your friend might have hopped around six different cities in quick succession without so much as a yawn, but if you need time to relax and recuperate in between hectic sightseeing, then by all means take a break! I’m alternating cities with stunning lakeside destinations because I know that – as much as I love them – city breaks can sometimes wear me out. I also love to sit in the sun and read, and it’s important to me that I find time for that. Which leads me to…
2. Choose your destinations carefully
This summer, I’m starting off in Budapest and ending up in Paris – taking in Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland on the way. The landscapes, history and culture in each of my chosen places are all massively different, and that’s precisely why I opted for them. I know people who’ve stuck to Scandinavia or the popular cities of Eastern Europe; I also know people who’ve zigzagged their way across the continent, landing only in places that they really, really want to visit. On this trip, I’d much rather see a bunch of diverse places than stick to the same region – but regardless of your preferences, it’s important that you pick places you think you’ll truly enjoy.
3. Finding cheap accommodation
If you’re travelling solo or with friends, it’s usually a no-brainer that you’ll go for hostel dorms: they’re often unbelievably cheap with prime central locations. What more could you want? But if, like me, you’re travelling as a couple or simply want more privacy, it’s sometimes difficult to find inexpensive accommodation that actually suits. Cities usually have really good Airbnb studio apartments or private rooms for anything between £20-50 a night (but keep in mind that cleaning and service fees are generally added to the price) and if you’re willing to stay in a new, yet-to-be-reviewed flat, it’s often even cheaper. Hostels are always worth a look – I really recommend Hostelworld – and are especially useful in more rural/costly locations, like Switzerland. Additionally, if you’re trying to budget, it’s best to bookend your journeys with cities that fly directly to your nearest hometown airport – which is good if you live near London. Not so much if you’re from Glasgow…
4. Travelling across Europe
Interrail is by far the easiest option for European citizens travelling across Europe. (I can’t answer yet whether it’s also the cheapest… but here’s hoping!) Whether you opt for a One Country or a Global pass, Interrail covers a pre-determined amount of ‘travel days’, meaning that you don’t have to worry about individual railfare or costs building up. Remember that some trains – especially across Western Europe – do require reservations for a small fee, and the most convenient train journeys are always those between two major cities. On that note, the Interrail app is an absolute godsend for planning out those pesky train journeys.
5. Remember to keep note of everything
Even though I’m nowhere near setting off, the amount of information I have to keep in mind is a bit baffling. Make a note of everything you do when planning your interrailing trip – write down the train times, the trains that require reservations, whether you need to pay for your accommodation when you get there. This is also really important for keeping track of exactly how much you’re spending, which, as we all know, usually has a habit of stealthily creeping up…
Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips for planning interrailing trips – I’ll definitely need them! Hope you enjoyed the blog post ❤