The Ultimate Guide To Interrailing for a great travelling experience in 2023

Updated On: November 15, 2022

interrailing

In recent times, interrailing has become a travelling rite of passage. Whether you’re a student on a tight budget or you just fancy seeing the sites of Europe via train, there’s a version of interrailing to suit everyone.

Europe has become the perfect destination for travellers to glide from city to city by train or bus due to the high number of popular destinations packed together so closely into the continent.

So, if you’re interested in planning the ultimate interrailing experience for your next summer holidays, stay tuned!

interrailing 3 In recent times, interrailing has become a travelling rite of passage. Whether you’re a student on a tight budget or you just fancy seeing the sites of Europe via train, there’s a version of interrailing to suit everyone.
Interrailing

What Is Interrailing?

On social media in recent years, you may have noticed friends or family members visiting multiple cities across Europe over the span of a few weeks, travelling around by train and carrying backpacks that are often bigger than they are! This is interrailing in a nutshell!

The concept of interrailing dates back to 1972 when the interrail pass was first introduced. Initially, the interrailing pass was brought out to encourage the young people of Europe to explore their neighbouring countries and expand their horizons. 

In the 50 years since then, over 10 million travellers have purchased an interrail pass and spent their summer holidays seeing the sites of Europe, one train station at a time. There are now interrailing passes available for Youths, Students, Adults and Senior Citizens. 

As a greater number of countries and transport organisations have signed on and partnered up with the Interrail brand, travelling by train has become more popular than ever. And for those wanting a more sustainable way to travel, interrailing provides a more environmentally friendly alternative to travelling by plane.

Who Is Eligible For An Interrailing Pass?

You are eligible for an interrailing pass if you are a member of one of the following groups:

  • If you are a citizen of a country participating in the interrail scheme. These countries include: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey
  • If you are a legal resident of a participating country in the interrail scheme.
  • To qualify for a Youth interrail pass, you must be 28 years of age or younger on the first day that your pass is valid.
  • Please note: If you live in a country that does not participate in the interrail scheme, you can purchase an Eurail pass instead. This is similar to an interrailing pass and has almost all of the same benefits. 

How Do I Book An Interrailing Holiday?

Planning your interrailing holiday can appear overwhelming. With over 33 destinations to choose from, selecting the right pass for your trip is essential. Interrail offers a Global Pass which is “the most flexible way to travel in 33 countries”.

There are various interrailing passes available depending on the length of your proposed trip. 

These include:

  • 7 days within 1 month- The most popular interrailing pass available
  • 5 days within 1 month
  • 4 days within 1 month
  • 15 days within 2 months
  • 10 days within 2 months
  • 15 days
  • 22 days
  • 1 month
  • 2 months
  • 3 months

Once you have decided how long you want to travel for, it’s time to select the interrailing pass that works best for you. 

You can purchase your interrail ticket up to 11 months before the intended starting date of your trip so don’t hesitate- once you’ve worked out the details of how many countries you would like to visit and how long you have to do this in, don’t delay and buy your ticket! This could be the first step you need to start planning the finer details of your trip.

Is Interrailing An Expensive Way To See Europe?

Like everything in life, interrailing can be done as cheaply or as expensively as you like. If you’re a student planning your interrailing trip on a budget, we recommend setting yourself a daily budget to ensure you can properly manage your finances for the duration of your trip.

To keep tabs on your spending, we also recommend taking note of how much you are spending on average per day. Account for things like eating and drinking out, excursions, public transport 

There are also cheaper accommodation alternatives available for those interrailing on a budget such as hostels, which we will discuss in detail later in this article.

To save on potential exchange rate fees, we also recommend getting the majority of your currency before heading off on your interrailing adventure. This saves both time and money searching for bank links and losing money to fees charged to get money out on poor exchange rates. This way you can also shop around for the best exchange rate for your money.

If you want to plan an interrailing holiday but are worried that it’s catered more towards students, you couldn’t be further from the truth. While interrailing holidays are mostly taken by students or those of student ages, anyone can enjoy an interrailing trip across Europe- the only difference is, you may be able to travel more comfortably than someone on a student budget.

For those seeking the interrailing experience they never had in their teenage years or early twenties, you can purchase a youth pass (if you are under the age of 28) or an adult pass if you are 29 or above. 

Rather than filtering accommodation options online to find the most affordable hostel, you can opt for a more comfortable place to stay such as a hotel or an AirBnB. You can also upgrade your interrail pass to a first-class ticket to ensure the time spent travelling across Europe’s cities by train is as pleasant as possible.

Interrailing is simply a convenient, economically and environmentally friendly way to see the sites Europe has to offer in a flexible way that suits you. Who says there has to be an age limit on who can enjoy such an experience?! 

What Is The Best Way To Plan An Interrailing Holiday?

Planning an interrailing holiday can at first, appear incredibly daunting. With all of the locations across Europe to consider, timings of each stop and other aspects such as daily budget and which cities may be more expensive to stay in, there are plenty of points to take into consideration before nailing down plans including flight and accommodation bookings.

Here at Connolly Cove, we recommend taking the following steps to plan your ideal interrailing itinerary:

  • Firstly, we recommend planning a route. This doesn’t have to be set in stone, as one of the key benefits of travelling Europe with an interrail pass is that your plans can remain somewhat flexible up until the last minute without any additional costs incurred (unless you have pre-booked seats or accommodation for your next stop).

Listing the locations which interest you the most is always a great place to start. This way, you can prioritise the places you want to see the most and plan the rest of your trip around this. 

Once you have listed the countries you want to visit as part of your interrailing trip, we recommend pinning these on a map of your choice (Google Maps or a good, old-fashioned fold-out map). By doing this, you are better able to visualise your routes and see which stops are close together. This helps in organising the order of your stops and where it’s best to stop and start, as you’ll need flights to and from these locations. 

  • Once you have planned your proposed interrailing route, we recommend booking your flights, at least to your first stop. This will help cement your plans in place and could be the push you need to finish arranging the rest of your trip. 
  • Next, we would recommend reviewing your accommodation options and booking these as soon as possible. 

If you want your plans to remain flexible throughout the time you spend interrailing, we recommend booking the accommodation for your next stop 2-3 days before you are due to arrive, however, it’s important to note that if you are interrailing on a budget, booking accommodation last minute may be more costly than booking in advance would usually be. 

If you are confident that the route you have planned is the route you will be travelling on your trip, we recommend booking all of your accommodation before your adventure begins. This way, there is no stress that there may be a lack of accommodation available at your destination when the time comes. 

Where Is The Best Place To Stay While Interrailing?

Depending on the budget you have set yourself before planning your interrailing adventure, there are multiple options to consider staying in during your trip. These include:

  • Hotels: There are many different hotel options to consider while interrailing. If you are a student on a budget, there are many budget hotel options available across Europe. Some hotels even offer breakfast included in the price which could help you save a few pounds over the duration of your trip.

If budgeting isn’t your top priority, why not choose a comfortable hotel for your stay in each city? That way, you are able to get out and explore during the day whilst enjoying a peaceful sleep in your own room at night. For interrailing, we recommend hotel stays for couples or families, as these groups often prefer quieter settings than larger groups.

  • Hostels: Nowadays, there are multitudes of hostels available to stay in every major city across Europe. While interrailing, hostels are perfect for bigger groups as they often offer visitors dormitory-style rooms with options to sleep groups ranging from four people to twenty people. 

Before selecting a hostel, we recommend checking reviews on platforms such as Booking.com and Trip Advisor to ensure the accommodation you are booking is safe to stay in. Depending on the cost to stay per night, most hostels will offer safety lockers to ensure your belongings remain intact while you are out and about exploring. 

Hostels range from budget accommodation to boutique hostels with private rooms available- with some in-depth research, it’s possible to find a great hostel to suit every traveller!

  • AirBnB: The rise in people renting out their entire homes or their spare rooms has led to an increase in users signing up to the accommodation platform AirBnB. 

In simple terms, AirBnB gives individuals wanting to rent out a space a platform to do this. Travellers seeking somewhere to stay can easily type in their location, the date of their trip and how many travellers will be joining them and they are instantly connected to hundreds of accommodation options.

AirBnB is traditionally much more affordable than hotel stays; however, for unique or luxury properties, or properties with added amenities such as hot tubs, swimming pools or close proximity to beaches and town centres, these can be equally as expensive as hotels. 

We recommend checking out AirBnB for accommodation options while interrailing- if you’re interested in living like a local during your trip, some AirBnB hosts are extremely hands-on, giving their guests advice on where to eat, drink and visit during their stay. 

Equally, if you’d prefer to keep to yourself during your trip, most hosts will leave you unless you communicate with them first via the AirBnB app. 

Of course, as with everything, we’d also encourage you to check the reviews for each listing on AirBnB before booking to ensure the area, accommodation and terms of the host are suitable for your stay. 

What Should I Pack For Interrailing? 

Before going interrailing, it’s important to put together a list of essential items you’ll need during your trip, especially if you plan to interrail for a longer period of time.

Some essential items that we’d recommend you bring on your interrailing trip include:

  • Travel Plugs and Extension Lead: To use your electronic devices and chargers during your interrailing trip, you’ll need European travel plugs. These can be purchased online or in stores selling luggage and holiday essentials. 

We’d also recommend one traveller in your group bring an extension lead during your interrailing trip. This way, only one travel plug is required and your devices can be used comfortably without having to sit and wait at the wall for charging to complete or to use electronics such as hairdryers. 

  • Locker Locks/Portable Safe: If you are staying in shared accommodations like hostels or in an AirBnB where the hosts will also be residing on the property alongside you, you may want to bring something to secure your valuables. 

While most hostels provide lockers for guests to store their valuables, what you may not realise is that most hostels also expect guests to bring their own lock to secure the lockers.

If you are staying in an AirBnB, it’s always a good idea to check with the host to see if they provide a safe to store your valuables in. If not, stores like Argos and Amazon sell small portable safes which are big enough to store all of your essential, valuable items in but small enough to transport in your backpack.  

If your accommodation of choice is a hotel, the good news is that most hotels offer guests complimentary safes to store their belongings during their stay. It’s always good to check with your hotel before booking to ensure that this is the case and so you can be prepared if there are no safes available. 

  • Get A Travel Currency Card: To avoid nasty surprises when trying to get cash out in other countries (such as exchange rate fees), we recommend getting a travel currency card before heading off on your interrailing adventure. 

Cards like Monzo, Revolut, Post Office Travel cards and Starling Bank cards can easily be set up and ordered online. These should be with you in around 3-5 working days and will be ready to add currency to. 

Monzo easily allows you to split bills with your friends and send and receive money from those with or without Monzo accounts. 

Revolut allows you to easily block or freeze your account in the case of lost or stolen cards. Another great benefit of using a Revolut card during your interrailing travels is that you can easily order a duplicate card to be sent to the address you are currently staying at, meaning you can replace your card during your travels without worrying that it can only be sent to your home address!

Starling Bank is also a great travel card to take along with you whilst interrailing for a number of reasons. Like Monzo, it allows you to split bills with your friends easily, the perfect feature for those group dinner evenings during your travels. Starling Bank also doesn’t charge you foreign transaction fees when you’re abroad, so you won’t be losing out just because you’ve chosen to take cash out abroad. 

Please note: Some cash machines abroad charge their own fees- this is unrelated to Starling Bank).

  • Bring First Aid Essentials: Depending on the route you have chosen for your interrailing trip, some locations may be more expensive for essential items such as painkillers, bandages and plasters than others.

Because of this, we recommend bringing these essentials with you. Bandages and plasters are essential for locations with a lot of walking as sore or injured feet can impact the activities you have planned for the rest of your stay. We’d also recommend bringing blister patches for short-term pain relief.

Changes in your environment such as warmer temperatures can often cause headaches. Because of this, we recommend bringing painkillers to combat any potential aches and pains as well as to aid any of your group that may feel unwell during your trip.

  • Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is one essential item that no interrail traveller should forget. 

In case of emergencies such as an illness, injury or hospital stay, your health insurance will ensure you are receiving the treatment or prescriptions needed to recover without paying a fortune for this.

For a good deal on travel insurance, we recommend searching on price comparison websites such as Compare The Market or MoneySupermarket.com  

Has The Interrailing Scheme Been Affected By Brexit?

If you’re living in the United Kingdom and are worried that Brexit may have an impact on your potential travelling plans to go interrailing, fear not, as the interrail pass will not be affected by Brexit. 

Interrail has confirmed, “If you’re a UK citizen, you can still travel with an Interrail Pass – this won’t change as a result of Brexit.” 

Citizens of the United Kingdom don’t require a visa to travel to Europe as long as they are visiting as a tourist and only stay up to 90 days within a 180-day time frame. 

We recommend checking each country you are visiting as part of your interrailing route to ensure there are no specific entry requirements, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, where vaccine passports were introduced into some countries. 

During some train journies, stops may occur and local law enforcement may check your identification. These checks are perfectly routine and are nothing to worry about. 

We’d also recommend checking your passport ahead of embarking on your interrailing journey to ensure your passport is in date for at least six months following your trip. If your passport is close to expiring either during or shortly after you go interrailing, we recommend renewing this ahead of time. 

Do Interrailing Passes Work For Any Other Mode Of Transport?

While the name Interrail suggests the passes may only be eligible for journeys made by train, interrailing travellers will be pleased to hear that the passes are also supported by some Ferry Lines

According to the Interrail website, “Interrail Passes include access to a number of free and discounted European ferry routes and boats.” These include:

  • Balearia Ferry runs ferries between mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands including Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera.
  • Blue Star Ferries runs from mainland Greece to the surrounding islands including Santorini, Kos and Rhodes.
  • The Finnlines Ferry operates across  Finland, Sweden and Germany.
  • The Fjord Line ferry runs between Denmark and a few different destinations on the shores of Norway.
  • Grimaldi Lines ferry allows passengers to travel to Greece, Spain, Italy and the  Island of Sardinia.
  • Irish Ferries operate routes between France, Ireland and Wales.
  • Minoan Lines ferry offers travellers connections within Greece and between Greece and Italy.
  • Polferries gives interrail travellers a discounted rate to travel between Poland, Sweden and Denmark.
  • SNAV Ferries operate across the Adriatic Sea, connecting travellers from Italy to Croatia and vice versa. Interrail travellers can enjoy 20% off fares with SNAV Ferries.
  • Superfast Ferries connects travellers in Italy and Greece, operating across the Adriatic Sea. With an interrail pass which is valid in either of these countries, travellers can enjoy a 30% discount on fares.
  • Tallink Silja ferry operates across the Baltic Sea, taking travellers to Finland, Sweden and various other parts of Europe. Check out the Tallink Silja website for more information on routes. 
  • Viking Line ferries offer interrail travellers an affordable way to see countries such as Finland, Sweden and Estonia.

So, depending on the route you choose to travel during your interrailing adventure, you may be able to see the sights from the comfort of your train carriage or see the beautiful landscapes of your chosen destination from the sea!

Tips To Remember Before You Interrail

Whilst planning an interrailing trip may seem overwhelming at first, once you have set out your route and gathered all of the essentials, everything else should fall into place. As one final recap, we have put together some of our top tips to remember before you head off on your interrailing adventure:

Don’t Forget To Reserve Your Seats

One of the main things travellers embarking on an interrailing holiday tend to forget is that seat reservations are not included in the price of your interrail pass. Seat reservations should be investigated ahead of your journey to each stop as some trains require these in order to get a seat.

As the age old saying goes, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail and in this case, if you haven’t prebooked a seat reservation and the train happens to be booked out, you could end up sitting on the floor for the rest of your journey. 

Make Photocopies Of Your Important Documentation

If you plan to interrail for a few weeks across multiple different locations, you will probably end up packing, unpacking and repacking many times during your trip. 

In these instances, it’s easy to misplace important documentation such as passports, driving licences, insurance policies, plane tickets and even your interrail paper pass. 

We recommend making photocopies of these and bringing them with you and even emailing these to yourself as back up and to ensure you are covered for the duration of your interrailing trip.

Download Google Translate

Google Translate will be your greatest resource in countries you may not speak the language in. The app allows users to take photos of menus or street signs and translate this into their native language.

You can even use the speaking feature to have Google Translate say the phrase out loud which helps ensure you are pronouncing words and phrases correctly.

Most Importantly, Have A Great Time

Interrailing is an extremely unique way to see the beautiful cities Europe has to offer so most of all, we would recommend you embrace every city you visit, try to experience as many sites and excursions as possible and enjoy every moment!