Considering interrailing after exams? Here are nine tips for the Bristol student backpacker
Bored of Bristol? Start planning your dream holiday
It may only be March, but summer is slowly but surely creeping up on us. The age-old question “any summer plans?” is sliding into conversation, and you may be without an exciting response to wow your mates with. Fear not The Bristol Tab have got you covered.
If you are fond of a train journey, overpriced Mcdonalds, and sharing a room, just you and a 45-year-old Spanish man, why not go interrailing this summer? Interrailing is a fantastic way to see the sights of Europe whilst on a budget, making it perfect for those who really can’t afford a holiday but really want one.
To make the experience of planning and executing an interrailing trip a little bit easier, we have gathered a few tips on how to have the best interrailing holiday ever.
1. Decide who you want to go with
I would argue that the best way to interrail is in a pair. You have the flexibility to do what you want, which is amazing and leads to fewer arguments. It is also much easier to book accommodation as you are one only booking two beds in a hostel dorm.
Travelling in a large group is completely possible, and I’m sure great fun, but just make sure everyone is on a similar wavelength in regards to what they want to do during the trip.
Another option, if you are confident in your ability to entertain yourself, is going solo. Drift around Europe at your own pace and ‘discover’ something about yourself in the process.
2. Decide how long you want to go for
The beauty of university life is the ridiculously long summers. Depending on how many places you want to visit, you need to decide how long you are going to be travelling. You can go for as long or as short as you want, thanks to a variety of interrail passes on offer.
You do need to consider your budget when assessing how long you are going to travel. Obviously, the shorter the trip, the cheaper, but why not cross out a month on the calendar and see it all?
3. Buy a pass
The interrail pass comes in 10 different formats. This allows you to choose exactly how long you want to travel for and find a pass that reflects such.
You can choose between a certain number of travel days within a month, or you can choose the pass that provides you with a set number of travel days. A travel day allows you to take as many trains as it takes to get from A – B. So if you choose the most popular pass, 7 days within one month, you can travel to 7 different places on the day on which you have specified.
4. Choose your destinations
The fun part of the planning process is choosing where you are going to visit. There are the obvious big European cities to choose from, but also a plethora of hidden gems accessible by train. Consider what you want to do whilst travelling and pick your destinations accordingly.
When choosing your destinations, the Interrail Planner website is amazing for ensuring your route makes sense and also provides the time of your individual train journeys too.
5. Look at accommodation
Once you know where you are going to visit you can start booking hostels. If you book early, you can bag some great deals. Hostelworld is a really great website for finding the cheapest hostels. If you are feeling fancy, you could splash out on an Airbnb as a treat for one of your destinations, as prices can be similar to the price of a hostel when split the price between your group.
The best part about hostels is the social element. It is so easy to start conversations with like-minded young travellers in hostels, so use this to your advantage. Pub crawls organised by the hostel you are staying at is a good way to meet others and find things to do in the city you are in.
Hostels are also a great option as they usually have kitchens so you can save money by not eating out and instead cook up some basic food bought from a local supermarket. So much cheaper.
6. Create a budget
Once you have created a plan for your trip, you can tackle the slightly terrifying task of adding up how much this is all going to cost. You can use the Interrail Planner website’s trip cost estimate feature to get an idea of what you are going to be spending in total. Another trick is to look up the average spend per day in each city you are going to visit; this makes the estimate of your budget more accurate.
7. Make a list of things to do at each destination
Do some online research and talk to people you know who have visited before and gather an idea of stuff to do whilst visiting. Interrailing is a very popular holiday choice, so talking to others who have been before is a great way of finding different and exciting things to do in your chosen cities.
8. Pack efficiently
A good bag for interrailing is a proper outdoor walking bag between 30-60L. Make sure it weighs less than 20kg and is high quality; your back will thank you later.
Some key things to bring with you are a padlock, shower shoes, a sports towel and a neck pillow. These items will make your life a hell of a lot easier. Trust me.
9. Keep your cool and behave
The most important piece of advice one can receive before embarking on an interrailing adventure is to keep calm and be confident. For some, the idea of travelling around Europe and utilising foreign public transport is daunting. It is. This is so normal and so understandable. But, you are more than able to carry your own wherever you are. Take time to understand the destination’s norms and culture.