Updated: Aug 15, 2020
About Interrailing. The Interrail Pass is a paper ticket that allows you to travel throughout Europe at a reduced rate and without any necessary agenda. This means that you can purchase a ticket and hop on a train and just see where you go, although this route seems like it would be quite difficult considering accommodations and reservations, but I am not one to discourage an adventure! We purchased the 14 day Continuous Global Interrail Pass for about £300 or $400. While this sounds like a steep price to some, it is a fraction of what the trip would have cost if we bought the train tickets individually. We planned an itinerary of where we wanted to go on a shared Google Docs Document, using the Rail Planner App to check that each leg of the journey was feasible. Our goal was also to spend less than 7 hours on a train each day, so that the travel and exploring portions were worth it. This April I went on a two week trip that took me, and two of my friends, to seven countries. Everyone told me that it was not going to be possible, and that I was not going to enjoy my time due to the rushed nature of the adventure but I remained determined. Here I will provide the most important tips that I learned on the rails, my itinerary, and general takeaway from the Interrailing experience. I intend to update this blog weekly with a more focused itinerary for each stop along the way, including all of the problems we faced and all of the surprisingly amazing experiences we encountered. As this is my first post, please do not be surprised if it is updated with changes over the course of my reflection of the trip.
Pulling into Venice after our first and only overnight journey – April 19th, 2019
While I would like to say that everyone was wrong and our journey went without an issue…I would be lying. There were plenty of unexpected events that threw off our schedule and our general frame of mind, but we got through it and probably ended up better travelers from the experiences. With this being said, if you are thinking about embarking on a journey that lands you in a different city every day, I beg that you approach it with an easy-going attitude and flexible plans. When I was planning our itinerary, my method was to pick out all of the places that we could go in a day in each city, starring the spots I wanted to make a priority. This way we had pre-planned options if we found ourselves with nothing to do, but there was no pressure to stick to a regimented schedule. With this flexibility we were able to wander the streets in some cities, and embrace our tourist side in cities where there was a lot to check off the to-do list. Our itinerary: Sheffield, England to Edinburgh, Scotland Flight from Edinburgh, Scotland to Eindhoven, The Netherlands Eindhoven, The Netherlands to Leiden, The Netherlands Leiden, The Netherlands to Amsterdam, The Netherlands (staying in Volendaam, The Netherlands) Amsterdam, The Netherlands to Frankfurt, Germany Frankfurt, Germany to Dresden, Germany Dresden, Germany to Prague, Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic to Salzburg, Austria Salzburg, Austria to Venice, Italy Venice, Italy to Milan, Italy Milan, Italy to Lake Como, Italy Lake Como, Italy back to Milan, Italy (I’ll explain later) Milan, Italy to Monterosso, Italy Monterosso, Italy to Ventimiglia, Italy Ventimiglia, Italy to Marseille, France Marseille, France to Barcelona, Spain (featuring a detour in Cannes, France) Barcelona, Spain to San Sebastian, Spain San Sebastian, Spain to St. Emilion, France St. Emilion, France to Paris, France Paris, France to London, England London, England to Sheffield, England Just writing all of that down exhausted me, so you can imagine how living out of a backpack and visiting 22 cities in less than 14 days worked out. I was lucky to travel with two friends who were just as enthusiastic about the opportunity to see a bunch of Europe in a short span of time. Three largest takeaways from the Interrail system: 1. Get the Rail Planner app. For the most part this accurately represented the trains that we were going to take, and also gave us a warning about which trains needed reservations. We also used the Trainline app to double check that the Rail Planner app showed all of our options. 2. Our biggest issues came from trains that needed reservations, which you have to pay a small fee for in addition to your Interrail app. Coming into the process, I was under the impression that an Interrail Pass allowed you on any train with the approved companies for no additional fee. This is true for most cases, but trains in Italy, France, and Spain provided some difficulty. Because of this, I would advise you use the Rail Planner app to find which journeys require booking and book them far ahead of your travels. You do not want to end up stranded in Marseille, dealing with a difficult ticketing officer who insists that there is no way to make it to Barcelona the next day due to the reserved seats being sold out. There are journeys that you can take that don’t require the reservation, but know that these often do not run on schedule and could take hours longer than the reserved seats. 3. A lot of places seem to not know about the Interrail Passes or had specific requirements for them. In the Netherlands, you have to use a barcode on the back of the Interrail Pass to get through station barriers. We missed this fine print and had to ask a station attendant to let us through before we noticed it. The Interrail Pass works for all trains, which means in bigger cities, you can use the pass for intercity travel if they have regional trains. We used this in Barcelona, but make sure to go through the regional train barriers and not through the metro barriers. I am planning on writing a post about the experience we had arriving, enjoying, and leaving each city on the itinerary. Additionally, I will blog about the joys of packing cubes and other details that made traveling easier. If there is anything you would like for me to expand on, please comment and I will provide all the expertise I can! Melissa
Flight from Edinburgh, Scotland to Eindhoven, The Netherlands (lucky to get lots of leg room!) – April 12th, 2019