A Beginners Guide to Interrailing: 5 Things to Know Before You Go

A Beginners Guide to Interrailing: 5 Things to Know Before You Go

7 min read

Heading out this summer with big plans to travel around Europe? If yes, then you’re probably wondering just how in the world you’re going to get from the sandy beaches of Barcelona to the bright lights of Paris. If you’ve done a quick search on good ole Google then you’ve come across Interrail, Europe’s interconnecting train system that’s the most efficient and easy way to travel around Europe.

If you’re new to Interrail and don’t know how to ride the railways just yet, we’ve come up with five quick tips and tricks to help you get on your way for your for your backpacking Eurotrip.

1. Ticket to Ride

Are you intimately exploring Germany’s different beer and chocolate, or are you trying to get a taste of a variety of European culture and architecture? Your travel plans will help you determine which Interrail Pass you’ll need to hop and off the train. If you’re just exploring one or two countries- stick with the flexible One Country Pass to use the nation’s interrail to travel from city to city. But if you’re planning a month long excursion of Europe’s best beaches to get your tan on, then you’re going to need the Global Pass. The Global Pass will let you fly through checkpoints without worrying about having to stop and get your passport checked.

Interrail also offers several sweet deals if you’re trying to get more bang for your buck. If you’re under the age of 28 you can score deals as for an Interrail Pass as a youth traveller. You can save more too by catching night train and sleeping in a reclining chair or couchette.

2. Safe and Sound

It can never hurt to make sure you’re being careful when you’re travelling.  Though you’ve more than likely heard this talk with your parents, bare with us because your parents are actually right *gasp!* When travelling on the train, keep your stuff hidden away and remember not to put your eggs all in one basket. Stow away your phone, wallet, extra money, passport, etc. in separate places whether it’s somewhere in your lucky sock or in a secret compartment in your backpack. Also, make sure to avoid leaving your backpack or any other items alone on the train, lest the suddenly disappear. It helps too to do a quick search for the places you are going to, so you know which places backpacker-friendly to visit! Though you’re likely to get along just fine on your trips, it’s good to be on the safe side!

3.  Deals on Wheels

While you may be tempted to spend a night or catch a meal in a place like Monaco on your trip, remember that it’s extremely expensive for simple backpackers like yourself.  Although you can certainly feel free to splurge every now and then on a quick night in a hostel or on some traditional Mediterranean food, you can always save a few pounds by choosing to forego fine dining in favor of some quick eats like small local cafes or grocery stores – basically anywhere local and not a tourist hotspot. While most of these places might not speak English, they’ll have the best deals on food you can get in the area.

When travelling by train, try to catch a night train whenever you can. You have to book your ticket in advance, but it’s pretty easy. This way you spend less on hostels and will be pretty well rested and ready to explore by the time you reach your next destination.

Pro Interrail Tip: Pack snacks for your trip and bring a reusable water bottle. This way you can always have some munchies to snack on and stay hydrated while travelling.

4. Pack Light, Pack Right

Packing is probably the bane of every backpacker’s existence. You’re always afraid of whether you’re going to pack too little or pack too much. At least when you pack too little, you can always pick up something you might need while you’re travelling, but if you pack too much, you’re going to be stuck lugging around an insane amount of weight on your back. So pack your bag, and then take about half of the things you packed out because that’s going to be about what you need while you’re travelling. If you’re unsure of what clothes to pack, try to find clothes that dry quickly. While you may love your skinny jeans, jeans take a lot longer to dry than say anything made out of silk, polyester, nylon or wool. Definitely make sure to avoid cotton, as the saying of experienced backpackers goes, “cotton kills.”  Cotton clothes are poor insulators and take forever to dry, so while they may be comfortable, don’t wear them.

A few key must-haves we recommend:

  • Ear plugs and Eye Mask- definitely need these so you can get some shuteye on the train
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes & Shower Shoes
  • Shirt and shorts or comfortable clothes for late night train rides
  • Water bottle and Snacks
  • Passport and important documents, along with copies in case they get lost!
  • Rain gear for bad weather days

For more packing essentials check out our full list.

5.  Apps you ‘app-solutely’ need to have

Chances are while you’re backpacking through Europe, your smartphone is going to be your lifeline to the outside world. Instead of trying to hopeless search the internet on your phone for information, we’ve compiled a few quick apps that can help you book accommodations, contact emergency services, find food deals and fit whatever else our immediate needs may be while travelling.  With these apps, you’ll be able to find whatever you need fast and efficiently.

  • Whatsapp: If you haven’t gotten a Whatsapp by now then you probably should. Whatsapp is extremely popular to use in Europe to communicate with anyone for free. Lots of hostels or travel companies, have Whatsapp numbers so you can contact them while travelling.
  • TravelSafe Pro: Need to access the emergency number while you’re in Berlin? No problem! This app will give you all the emergency contact information for any country you are in.
  • DuoLingo: Don’t know how to say ‘thank you’ in German? No problem! DuoLingo teaches you simple phrases of other languages you can use while travelling.
  • FoodSpotting: Here’s an app that will help you find those local food places we mentioned earlier. This app is an absolute gem in finding awesome places to eat.
  • XE Currency: Not sure how much your pounds exchange for in Germany? Use this app to get the exchange rate for any country you are traveling to.

For more information on planning your Interrail trip including route ideas, maps, pricing and more visit our website – www.interrail.ie