Sunday, 10 May 2015

Inter-railing Tips

Last year I went inter-railing around Europe for one month.
Three girls, four weeks and endless trains.
Let me tell you it was the best decision that I have ever made and I would be going again this year if I wasn't starting my masters in Limerick this coming September.
 One month, riding around on a train for hours, in countries where you don’t speak the language, lugging around a back pack that weighs more than yourself may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea. But believe me when I say this, it is worth it every sore muscle.

We traveled through many different countries, check out some of my blog posts about them here and here.  
So I thought I would share a few tips that might help other people who have decided to take on the big bad world of inter-railing this summer. I used many blogs for tips before I went so I thought it might come in handy to share my experience.

The Bag:
I thought I would have to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a high tech savvy rucksack that would last me the month. BUT boy was I wrong, check out this back pack.

Lidl’s finest.
Price: 29 euro.
And not one thing broke on it! And this got thrown, sat on, and pulled all over the place.
If that doesn't take your fancy and to save yourself even more dolla, ask around and see if anyone you know has one gathering dust on the top of their wardrobe. Borrow instead of spending a ridiculous about of money on a Bear Gryll's type of rucksack that you might never use again.

So I will be the first to admit that I am the worst packer in the world, and I am sure I am not the only girl out there. I went out on Saturday night to my friend’s house and had to bring a suitcase because I had so much stuff with me, I.e two items of everything ( a girl needs her back up outfit and her back up back up outfit.)  So you can imagine how hard it was for me to pack for a month travelling around thinking not only about comfort but also practicality and style.

In the end I ended up wearing NEARLY everything I brought with me, but if I was going again I would not bring half as many clothes.
The essentials for me would be:

A zip up hoody because even if the country is hot, it does get cold at night (I used mine to cover my pillow at night, some might find this weird but I preferred breathing into my hoody then a pillow used my many many people even with the fresh pillowcases!).
A rain jacket, once again not everywhere is sunshine and lollipops.
One pair of practical trainers, for me it was black converse.Because believe me you don’t want to be running for a train in flipflops or flimsy sandals.  

Two pairs of sandals (feet need sunshine too yanno)
Leggings (light, easy to pack and they go with most things)
A few versatile t shirts, shorts and your good to go.
An adapter
A blowup neck pillow-easy to store and your new best friend for the next month.

Money, money, money:
It’s all down to you and your travel buddies where you want to stay when travelling around, you can go for cheap hostels or you can go for expensive hotels. It’s all down to yourself.
People have asked me how much spending money you would need when going for a month and I would HONESTLY say that 2000 euro was what I would have. I know it does sound like a lot of money to spend in a month, but between paying for your hotels (our hostels collectively came to around 500 euro WHICH is not bad for a month) getting buses, taxis, metros, paying for activities and eating out for all our meals, and going out drinking it actually was not THAT much.
Keep in mind you can do it more cheaply. You could go for cheaper hostels, etc etc.
 But each to their own.
Now another tip, I am from Ireland so we use Euro, as do a lot of countries but not ALL the countries we visited used euro so we did have to exchange our currency a few times, thankfully if was only 3 times. SO before you go check out what countries you need to exchange your money in it will save you a lot of hassle.
Another tip would be to buy a bum bag.

Not the most fashionable ones going I KNOW but there were so handy.
We each had one which we used when we were going on trains and for certain day trips, our passports, interrail ticket, money AND phone fit in it perfectly and where easy to hind under clothes. I slept with mine under my pillow at night and believe me you need too as one night the two girls I went with got robbed as they left there’s beside them in the bed. So get one, there easy to conceal as they are so flat, you cant even tell I am wearing mine in this picture

The trains:
I thought that we would get a lot more lost then we did. But in fact every train ride went smoothly for us.  It was all thanks to the interrailing app which is available to download on the app store. It works off line and was so easy to navigate!
It told us how long the train journeys were, the name of each stop and this was important because they don’t let you know when your stop is coming up and if they do it’s in a different language.
The one thing I would say is reserve your seats for your train journeys.  The only time we didn’t was when we were travelling from Warsaw to Berlin and we ended up sitting on the ground for 9 hours.

So when you get to your first destination, go to the train station find out the times the train goes and reserve your seats. The price is not included in your inter-railing ticket but to reserve is only a few euro! So every time we got off the train at our said destination we went to the ticket desk reserved seats and then we were set up for the next train trip. 
It is every man for themselves at train stations and don't forget to ask questions, there are so many people interrailing along similar routes so asking other people can help you get on the right track.
Keep in mind trains do get delayed we had several delayed by a couple of hours and if you have connecting trains it can mess things up. At one stage we had 2 mins to get from one train all the way across the train station to the next train. But thankfully it only happened the once!

Last but not least enjoy every second of it, because the time does fly. Talk to the people in your room at your hostels, you'll meet so many people from different walks of life it will open up your eyes to the rest of the world. Also realize you’re not going to be able to do every single thing in every place that you go, we learnt this the hard way. But we still had a ball!

If anyone has any questions or wants any links to hostels, you can email me on I would be more then happy to help.

 Anyone else have any travelling stories?