Travelling by InterRail is one of the most affordable and exciting ways to see Europe. There is something undeniably exciting and romantic about taking the train across the French countryside, or whistling along snow capped Swiss mountain passes while sipping coco in your coach seat. So, how do you make sure that your InterRail holiday goes smoothly? This month we're giving you ten great tips to make sure you stay safe and get the most out of your 'rail to rail' holiday.
Going on an InterRail trip and need insurance? Head over to our interrailing travel insurance page and make sure you're covered.
Think before you buy your tickets
InterRail ticket prices vary according to the number of zones you want to visit, your age and how long you are going for. If you only want to go to Italy or France, a zone pass is perfect for your holiday. But, if you are only buying a zone ticket because it's cheaper, please reconsider. The Global Pass may seem very expensive in comparison, but it's still immensely cheap when compared to flight costs. The last thing you want to do is regret not having bought a global pass once you're on the road.
Obviously you can't spend money that you don't have. But if you can afford it, having the freedom to travel throughout the continent will add a new level to your trip. You may be swayed to go somewhere sunnier, cheaper, less crowded or unexpected (with new friends you make). You can always buy cheaper food, drinks and souvenirs, but the once-off investment on your ticket is worthwhile splurging on. To view prices and ticket zones, check out the InterRail website: www.interrailnet.com
Be aware of your surroundings
For the most part travelling by rail is a cheap and cheerful way to get around. But you need to have your wits about you and keep an eye out for pickpockets, scam artists and thugs. Do not let anybody on the train handle your bags, your passport or your tickets without providing some form of legitimate identification, no matter how strongly they insist on being a customs official.
If you are travelling by yourself at night, or waiting at an quiet train station, look out for an official or a station security officer, just to have someone to call on in case. Keep your money, phone and credit card in a safe place. You do not want to be walking around with your wallet dangling half way out of your pockets. One of those pouches that can be strapped to your body or a moon bag (as dreadfully nerdy as they are) are the best bet.
It is easy to get carried away in Europe - especially the western countries where things are more expensive. A few big nights of partying and you could blow your entire food budget on rounds of shooters for some new friends (without seeing the consequences as dire at the time). To make sure you have enough spending money to do the fun and special things on the last few legs of the journey, pace yourself. There is nothing worse than getting to a place like Rome or Paris with no money, because you've spent it all during the first week.
Beware of cabin fever
Only travel with someone you don't mind spending unnatural amounts of time with. The long train journeys and small living quarters make your trip an up-close-and-personal affair. Some of the popular choices for travel partners include partners, best friends and groups of old friends (who won't be offended by parties splitting up to do their own thing). It's definitely not a good idea to travel with someone you have a fiery history with. Travelling in such close proximity has been known to spark fights and end relationships! If you feel an argument between yourself and your travel partner is in the pipelines, relax and take some personal time to get your cool back. There's no need to let cabin fever spoil a good time.
Get a good night's sleep where possible
You can upgrade your tickets to include a 'couchette' for about Â£20, which makes for a decent enough night's sleep. It might not be a queen-sized bed at the Four Seasons, but it's a far side more comfortable than the regular coach seats. If you are taking an overnight train this works out beautifully - you'll wake up feeling like a bunch of roses, ready to tackle your next destination.
Go with the flow
If you are having a stupendous time somewhere and want to spend a few days extra there, don't allow a schedule to influence your perfect holiday. Go with your instincts and march to your own drum beat. At the same time, don't be limited by the first great experience you have on your holiday - there is plenty of adventure out there!
Research your destinations
You don't want to arrive somewhere you've never been, without a single clue about where to go and what to do. Take some time before you go to decide where abouts you'd like to go and what you'd like to do. At least have a rough idea of where to stay - trust us, you do not want to sleep on a train station platform, especially if it's a cold night!
Bring a tent
Camp sites are the cheapest and occasionally the most beautiful hotels you will find around the world. You can save a lot of money by bringing a tent and finding the nearest camp site at each of your destinations. Most of them offer hot showers and magnificent views - you'll be surprised by how fun and popular they are!
Assume you can hop on any train
Certain trains will require you to pre-book your seats. Be aware of this when making any reservations or plans to be at a certain place on a certain day.
Be shocked by anything
Whether it's being seated next to a man who smells like he ran a marathon to get to the station or a woman who smells strongly of garlic and cackles loudly at her book, there will be some upsets along the way to your next destination. Some of the cheap hotels you stay in may have big insects and little beds. Try to take it all in your stride. The best thing you can do is be as relaxed as possible about the journey. For every weird, uncomfortable, dirty or smelly train ride you take or room you stay in, you'll have at least five amazing memories to outweigh them.
Last Updated: May 2011