Travel and holidays

5 tips for planning your Interrail trip

Planning an Interrailing trip abroad and wondering what you should take? If you’re looking for Interrailing tips, you’re in the right place. Student Blogger, James Jackman, talks us through the 5 key things you should think about when planning your Interrail trip.

1. Luggage

No matter where you go, your best companion will be your luggage. Firstly, forget about that suitcase - a large rucksack is all you need, and 60 litres tends to be a good size to aim for. It’s also a good idea to take a sleeping bag and a liner with you, just in case your accommodation isn’t quite up to standard!

2. Accommodation

Interrailing accommodation can seem a little confusing to plan. With so many options available, it can often leave budding Interrailers feeling a little overwhelmed.

Hostels are the usual choice for travellers, particularly given their locations and price. However, you’ll likely be sharing your room with lots of other people which can have its drawbacks – especially if you get a snorer. If you’re met by a chorus of gasps and wheezes, then a pair of earplugs and a sleep mask will make even the worst dorms bearable. You might also want to stay security conscious by placing your gadgets and expensive items at the bottom of your sleeping back or tucked up beside you - just in case you’re sharing a room with any opportunists. Even better, if the hostel has a safe or lockers available, then make sure to lock your valuables up safe and sound.

But if you want to try something different, options such as ‘couchsurfing’ and home rentals (like Airbnb) are increasingly popular. Alternatively, camping is a great way to keep things cheap – but remember that you’ll probably need to carry your tent around with you on your back, so it’s a good idea to keep things on the light side.

3. Companions

When you’re planning your next big adventure, you’ll want to make sure you remember it for years to come. But the real question is, who do you travel with? Do you go alone or with friends?

Navigating the world alone can be a scary prospect at first, but remember that there will probably be plenty of other people who will also be travelling solo, so you’re bound to make plenty of new friends along the way.

Equally, travelling with friends results in shared experiences, and means that there’s always someone to lean on should you encounter any issues. But you might want to be careful about which friends you take with you, as difficult group dynamics could get in the way of the adventure of a lifetime.

4. Duration

The big question – how long do you go for? The answer to that really depends on what you’re after in an Interrailing holiday. Some people prefer to make it a quick trip, cramming as many activities as possible into just two or three days. Others, however, prefer to stretch their adventure out for as long as possible – in fact, some Interrailers don’t even have an end date in mind when they embark on their travels!

If you get a global pass, you’ll have a range of options available - from ‘5 travel days in 15’ to a solid month of travelling. ‘5 travel days in 15’ means you’ll have 5 days in a set of 15 days when you can travel.

If you’re a first-time traveller, then the ‘5 travel days’ pass might be a good idea, as it means you can see six different cities in one go. Throwing yourself in at the deep end and immersing yourself into the world of Interrailing will really give you an idea as to whether Interrailing is right for you.

It’s also useful to remember that the pass duration only starts when you take your first train journey – so you can spend a few days in your first city, then start your pass.

5. Planning your route

You might be asking yourself, ‘how do I plan my Interrail route?’

If you’re thinking of going Interrailing around Europe, you’ll soon find out that there’s a lot you’ll need to plan ahead of your trip, and it can be tricky to know where to start. How do you narrow down the list of places you want to visit and explore?

Start by thinking about how many days you’ll spend in each place. The usual method is to trawl through train timetables and knock out a spreadsheet with all your information on it.

The Interrail Planner is a free website that aims to take the worry out of your route planning. Just choose your pass and dates, then use their simple interface to enter your cities. You’ll see your route mapped out in front of you, and you’ll even have the option to book hostels and train reservations from the website as well - perfect for any Interrailer!

Do you need travel insurance?

Whether you’re Interrailing across Europe or taking a last minute city break, it’s important to make sure you have the right travel insurance in place for your trip so that you can protect yourself against those unpredicted moments involved in any holiday; from losing your bag, to flight delays and getting ill abroad.

There are a number of different types of travel insurance available, so it’s important to make sure you take out right cover for your trip – backpacker insurance, for example, is likely to cover you for up to one year anywhere in the world.

Consider how long you’ll be travelling for, where you’ll be travelling to and what gadgets you might be taking with you, as well as any extreme activities you’ll be undertaking while you’re there, as these will all need to be factored into your quotation.

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