My Top Tips
So you’ve booked your interrail ticket and your getting excited about your adventure, I’ve put together some of my top tips that really helped make my trip around France, Switzerland & Italy!
Create a rough itinerary
Having a interrail pass = freedom, you can literally go anywhere you want to go in Europe which is such an exciting feeling but can also be overwhelming if you want to see a lot! Take a look at the link below to see how long it takes to get between destinations, this will help for you to decide where you’ll be able to visit. For example, do you want to explore France, Portugal & Spain, or adventure around Italy or explore the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany or even further afield down to Croatia? Decide where you want to go, it may even be a case of catching a flight to your first destination if that’s going to eat in to your valuable travelling time. Flights between European capitals can be bargain prices if you book in advance!
Head to the map here: http://www.interrail.eu/plan-your-trip/interrail-railway-map
Decide on your ‘Must Do’s’
If you are travelling in a group be vocal and honest about the main places you’d like to visit, that way everyone is getting the best experience and doing what they want to do, you only have so much time in each place after all. We did it where on the way to each destination we would all say our number 1 thing we’d like to do, that person was then responsible for organising that. It worked really well and meant that we would experience a range of things.
Check in advance if you need to book seats
Be aware that you do sometimes have to book your seats in advance which does incur additional charges. The interrail pass has a certain allocation of seats so sometimes they may run out and you have to pay full price. We never came across this issue but from Milan to Rome we did have to jump on and speak to the train conductor and hope for the best.
Check if your interrail pass is valid on the trains you want to use
You can use your interrail passes on the majority local trains around Europe but do check – in Italy when you book your seats on the interactive machines its classed as the global pass, so make sure you have your ticket number to hand ready to pop in – you don’t want to be stressing at the station in Pisa with minutes to spare (trust me!). For example, your interrail pass isn’t valid on the train up the mountain in Switzerland to the Jungfrau region, this will set you back 70 Swiss Francs if you wish to do this.
Keep your bag safe
There are plenty of bag racks on the trains which is great, but some of them are in the central compartment where the doors and toilets are. I’m abit of a security nerd and usually panic about if my bag is safe so where we could we sat close to where we could see our bags and regularly took it in turns to go and check on them. We also had padlocks on our bags just for that additional safety aspect.
Build those muscles before you go
I would definitely recommend working on your upper body strength and stamina before you go – you’ll thank me for this tip when you have to lift 3 x 15kg backpacks onto the head height racks on trains in a rush whilst the train is moving and people are trying to get past! Don’t panic or rush, you don’t want to do a injury to your shoulders or back as you’ll be relying on these alot throughout your trip.
Shop around for accommodation
It can be easy to think that hotels are more expensive however they can actually be cheaper than hostels! There were 3 of us on our trip and there were lots of options for triple rooms which worked out much cheaper than some of the hostels. We used booking.com, hostelworld & hostelbookers to find the places we wanted to stay, its always handy to see how close it is to the train station as taxi’s or buses can add on that extra expense. Book your hotels in advance and print out or have somewhere handy the addresses and phone numbers – when you rock up in Switzerland in the middle of the night in the pitch black this is a godsend.
If you are with a phone provider that means you can use your phone as normal overseas (3 Feel at home i’m looking at you, you babe) make the most of it! Its the absolute dream when you need maps, translate or quickest routes to attractions, or obviously if you want the real getting lost experience turn those phones off!
If you miss a train you wanted to get.. Don’t stress
Its fine! It’s not the end of the world as there are plenty of trains around Europe, do pay attention to the last trains of the day if you desperately need to get somewhere though! The staff at all of the stations we came across were really lovely and helped us in anyway possible, speaking the language isn’t an issue though as most of the staff speak english and in worst case scenario get your map out and point to the destination you want to get to. If you don’t make a train you want to get you can use the time productively to look up things to do in your next destination. It also makes for a hilarious story as there’s nothing like absolutely legging it around the metros in Paris with 15kg on your back!
If you are hungry, just eat.
Hangry travellers are just the worst and that’s when tiffs can happen or you can get lost and stressed and maybe even cry (not a top 10 for any trip!). If you know your prone to hangryness (me) take some supplies – crisps, cereal bars etc.
And most importantly.
Just bloody enjoy it!
Don’t get lost in seeing absolutely everything, work out what you absolutely want to do and then anything else is a bonus.
For more info about my 10 day itinerary interrailing around Europe visiting France, Switzerland & Italy click here
Here’s some teasers of what you could achieve whilst interrailing!