The Ultimate Guide To Organising An Interrail Trip Across Europe
Interrailing can be one of the best experiences in life. However, there is much to do about before packing your bags and getting onto the first train and it can become quite stressful and overwhelming. So to make the trip the most comfortable and relaxing for you, here is everything you’ll need to know when planning your Interrail trip across Europe.
What is an Interrail/ Eurail Pass?
An Interrail Global Pass is a rail pass that allows you to travel on most trains in 30 countries in Europe. Although you need seat reservations for some trains, you can hop on and off many trains without having to buy a ticket. It makes European train travel easy and often saves you money.
You can buy passes for various time periods, such as seven days of travel within one month, 15 days continuous, or one month continuous. Interrail also has one country passes for individual countries, but the Global Pass is the most popular and best value.
Interrail passes are for European residents. Everyone else can travel with a Eurail pass instead. These are similar but have slightly different time periods available—there are passes for up to three months continuous.
How to Buy an Interrail/ Eurail Pass
You can buy passes online from Interrail.eu or Eurail.com and get them delivered to your home. You must buy them before you start your trip. There are often discounts if you buy them in the winter or early spring. You can order a pass up to 11 months before your trip starts. For Interrail passes, your start date will be printed on your pass. For Eurail passes, you don’t need to choose a start date, but you must activate the pass before your trip starts at a European train station or online.
Prices vary depending on the length of the pass and your age. It’s cheaper if you are aged 27 or under and choose 2nd class.
Is an Interrail Pass Worth it?
Whether a rail pass is worth it depends on the trip you want to take. If you’ll only be taking a few trains within one or two countries, it probably won’t be good value. If you want to cover a lot of ground, it could well save you money, especially in expensive Western European and Scandinavian countries.
Our recommendation is that you plan a rough itinerary and check online how much each train would cost approximately and then compare it to the price of the pass. However, you should keep in mind that with the Interrail pass you still have to book seat reservations, and these can be quite costly in some countries. The easiest countries for Interrailing are Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Great Britain, and Ireland as most trains don’t require reservations, even high-speed ones.
Planning Your Interrail Route
You need to ask yourself “Where have I always wanted to go in Europe?”, then write down those places and use a map to see which places can easily be combined and the best route to take. A paper map comes with your pass or you can download the Europe train map to start mapping out routes.
Once you have chosen some possible destinations, you can use the online Interrail Train Timetable or Rail Planner app to see how long the train trips will be. You might have to remove some countries if your journey is too long or if you are trying to fit too much and come up with a more realistic schedule.
The Interrail Train Timetable is really useful throughout your trip for looking up train times. You can choose to search for trains that don’t require reservations (just tick the box). The app is free and works offline.
How to Make Interrail Seat Reservations
Seat reservations are necessary on some high-speed trains and can be quite pricey. You can avoid them by using the Interrail Train Timetable or app to find trains that don’t require reservations. Reservations can be made up to three months in advance. Seats for pass holders are limited on certain trains like the French TGVs, so it’s best to book as far in advance as possible in the summer.
How to make Interrail reservations depends on the country. You can book in person at train stations around Europe or with the Interrail Reservations Service (Eurail also has this service). However, you do have to pay a €8 booking fee (total cost per train no matter how many seats you book) in addition to the reservation fee.
Using Your Interrail Pass
An Interrail pass is easy to use. Before boarding a train, you will just need to record the trip details in the Travel Diary that is provided with your ticket. If you have a flexi pass (such as 10 days of travel within one month), fill in the date of each travel day in the travel calendar, which is printed on your pass.
You can save travel days by taking night trains. If your train leaves after 7pm and arrives after 4am the next day, you only have to fill in the arrival day in the travel calendar. However, trains can have delays and you might risk losing two days on your travel card if you are not careful.
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