Ah hindsight, that magical memory trick that helps you realise what would have made your life easier. We travelled Europe by Interrail together and had an amazing time, but here are some of the things that we wish we had known before going. We hope they help you in your travels too!
You cannot use an Interrail Pass to travel in your own country, or the country you buy it in.
Yes, this was a problem for us and it was something we didn’t realise. Why? Because at the time of buying the pass, we lived in France. We wanted to travel through France to Italy, and so if we bought the pass in France, we wouldn’t be able to use it there. Not ideal. So what did we do? We had to ask a family member to buy it for us in the UK, and post it over. This allowed us to use France as our base, without having to pay for expensive flights.
You’re not going to need those gigantic travelling rucksacks.
Seriously, pack light. We were away for months, and at the end of our trip we unpacked our bags to find lots of clean, ironed and folded clothing that had never been worn. We lugged those rucksacks around with us everywhere, carrying pointless items. Now we know better, so learn from our mistakes and go for the lighter option! Check out Don’t Leave Home Without… for our tips on what to pack.
Don’t listen to the railway staff, book yourself a seat on that train.
Oh, how many times we heard ‘You won’t need to book a seat, just get a ticket.’ and then had to spend an uncomfortable twelve hour journey on the floor of a train. Get yourself a seat booked and treat those tired feet to a proper sit down. You will not regret it!
Throw away the old water bottle, and invest in a camel pack.
Camel packs are the best thing for travelling, and at the time of travelling Europe, we didn’t know that. We would carry around heavy bottles of water, filling them up at every opportunity. Through Asia we knew better, and had a camel pack each, which gave us easy access to litres of water. Invest in a camel pack, it makes all the difference on long hot journeys.
Carry a pen and pencil.
Sounds odd, but the Interrail pass is made in an old fashioned way, and requires you to fill out where you are going for each trip. The pencil is so you can fill it out and leave yourself room for error, before you use the pen. You will need this as without writing your destination on your pass, it will not be valid.
Using hostels and campsites? See if they have a loyalty offer.
We realised after a month or so that a lot of the hostels we were using were the same company, and had loyalty offers. You could get a stamp for each place you stayed in, and could earn points and even a free night. This sort of thing is invaluable to the Interrail traveller. Do your research and find those hostels!
Have you ever used the Interrail Pass?