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How to Travel Europe Without Paying for Plane Tickets: Interrail

November 8, 2018

The Interrail ticket has been around since 1972 as an opportunity for young people traveling on a budget. Interrail is an amazing offer to explore Europe, practically designed for students. You can get a ‘Global Pass’ (valid for 30 European countries) and choose the amount of travel days within your timeframe or discover any specific country with a ‘One Country Pass’. After that, hopping on the train is all you need to do to get around Europe. In the summer of 2017, my best friend and I packed our bags and took a night train to Hamburg –beginning a month full of crazy adventures and amazing experiences. We ended up visiting eleven cities in eight countries over the span of 30 days.

If you want to get in touch with your spontaneous side, have a passion for train rides or European culture – here are three reasons why Interrail is your next big adventure.

 

Explore Everything

Taking trains to get to your destination is a great way of combining trips to Europe’s metropolises with visiting smaller towns. Being able to choose your route pretty much on the spot, adds a lot of spontaneity to your travels and lets you explore cities you hadn’t thought of visiting before. Most big cities in Europe have great airbnb or youth hostels near the train stations, and couch-surfing is a great way to meet locals and crash somewhere for cheap. From trying the famous “Fischbrötchen” (a fish sandwich, not everyone’s taste but give it a go), to spending nights on Budapest’s rooftops, to hiking in a natural reserve in Croatia– traveling every other day to a new place is very rewarding. However, city hopping can get exhausting after a while, with all the impressions that keep pouring on you, so make sure you get to spend an extra day in a city every now and then to relax (and to do some laundry).

Tip: Most cities have free walking tours and it is always worth it to check out the public transport when sightseeing – some local ferry lines let you see the port or river side for far less money than tourist boats. 

 

The Company You Keep

A journey is always more fun if you get to enjoy it with friends. But yes, 30 days in close quarters with your travel buddy can also be a challenge. When my best friend and I started Interrail, I was wondering if at some point spending all this time together could take a toll on our friendship. Two hangry people at Belgrade train station at 6:00am did result in bickering and sometimes, after hours on a train, a missing sock seems like a huge deal, but I realized that small fights and challenges belong to any journey and I would not change a thing about it. Because traveling with friends (whether you’ve known them for ages or met them while on Interrail) is a great way to really get to know them. Having people around balances you. It gets you to visit a war history museum that you wouldn’t have given a second thought, and reminds your sleepy head in the morning to take your keys and wallet with you. My friend and I explored cities with fellow Interrailers, locals who hosted us and also just by ourselves– it was a month full of new friendships and an adventure that made a friend become family.

Tip: It is a good idea to travel in bigger groups, so you can split for certain activities. Traveling with a few friends, on the other hand, really gives you time to get to know them. Whatever you choose, patience and spontaneity is key in surviving long travels and each other’s quirks.

 

Get on the (Inter)rails

Trains are a great way of getting around. They are (mostly) fast and efficient, ecologically friendly and offer breath-taking views of the country’s landscape. During summer you will find all kinds of people on your train, city dwellers on their way to the countryside, people on family visits and, of course, fellow young Interrailers from all over Europe. Interrailing offers you the opportunity to travel comfortably while making sure no trip is quite the same. From Austrian overnight trains (any “Railjet” is a 10/10 for comfort) to spending 14 hours in what felt like the oldest sleep wagon on our way to Belgrade; the most memorable stories always start with “when we took a train to…”. For the best experience, pack a backpack with clothes for all weather, bring sunglasses and a set of playing cards and you will (hopefully) never be bored.

Tip: Take the night trains as often as possible, especially for longer travels, if you depart after 19:00 it only counts for the next day – you save on travel days for your ticket and get to wake up at a new place the next morning – there’s no better way to start the day!

 

 

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