An amateur’s first steps towards inter-railing

Envision two friends laughing together, lovingly staring at a laptop screen, and picking out places to visit and sights to see. Oh the ease of planning your journey with just one ticket and finally being able to tick your dreams off your bucket list.

For those of you who do not know what inter-railing is, the InterRail pass combines low cost travel in Europe with maximum flexibility. The pass allows you up to one month of unlimited travel across 30 countries. Substantial discounts are also available on European ferries for InterRail pass holders. InterRail also offers single country passes for many countries in Europe.

 

The word inter-railing sends happy thoughts spiralling throughout your body, bubbles of excitement build up and climb from your toes to your tummy. You heave a sigh of relief, as you realise your summer will be spent in sunny ecstasy, exploring the various corners of Europe.

interrail image 1

Even the thought of planning your trip excites you, a few happy hours spent milling around on Google and voila you’re ready.

Well think again. It starts off as two friends laughing together, until the stress slowly but surely builds up. Rising in bubbles until you lash out and slap your laptop shut in anger at how stressful the planning process of inter-railing really is.

Think of this: hours spent in front of your computer endlessly Googling European towns and inter-railing ‘top tips,’ until you just want to pull your eyes out of your face and feel as if you don’t actually want to go anymore.

Constantly downloading inter railing map routes and staring blankly at the screen with glazed eyes, as it slowly dawns on you that this trip isn’t going to be as easy as you think. The map consisting of numerous colour coded lines wiggling off in different directions, the train companies in different countries, all with confusing, foreign names and the befuddling, mixed messages that inter rail bloggers give you about ‘whether to book hostels before or just turn up and pray for a room.’

Yes, the process is time consuming and hair-rippingly stressful, but in the end, I know it will be worth the pain and misery of mindlessly scrolling up and down Google, reading facts and tips for hours.

As an amateur inter rail planner (and yes, I am currently still in the planning stages), there are three major tips I’ve learnt along the way.

  1. Before deciding anything, sit down and create a budget. There’s no point being unrealistic and planning to go to all 30 countries on the ticket, if you won’t be able to afford it. It is possible, (apparently) to interail on a budget of £1000, however it all depends on the countries you visit.
  2. Then and only then, decide which countries and cities you wish to visit. Be realistic; if you’re on a tight budget, don’t expect to visit Monaco, Nice, Milan, and Paris. Unless you do have an endless amount of savings.
  3. Buy your ticket once you’re certain you definitely want to go inter railing. Once the tickets are bought, it’s one less aspect to worry about.

man punching the ticket before boarding on a French train station

After these steps, it all starts to get more complicated. It’s now the step where you have to plan your trip down to every last minute. Unfortunately, I’m not quite there yet. I’m stuck in a limbo, mindlessly trying to decide at what time in the morning I’m willing and prepared to wake up to catch the Eurostar to Paris. Sigh. It’s a tough process, but I’m certain it will work out in the end.

interail image 4

Words: Ella Walker

Image source 1: Pinterest, originally from buzzfeed.com

Feature image- Image source 2: Pinterest

Image source 3: Gapyear.com

Image source 4: My own photography

 

 

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