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Interrailing/Eurailing Advice Superthread (IMPORTANT: FAQ at start)

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    Mod note: This is an FAQ very kindly written by TheRandomer for this thread! Please read carefully before asking any travel-specific questions.

    How does the Interrail Pass work?
    There are two types of ticket – a global pass, allowing you to travel in any of the 30 listed interrail countries; or a one country pass, the price of which varies depending on the country you choose. Once you know roughly where you would like to visit, and how many journeys you would like to make, you can then refine your choice further by selecting the pass duration (10 days to 1 month!) and usage type (a limited number of journeys or an all out flexible ‘continuous pass’). See options here: http://www.interrailnet.com/interrail-passes. For example a ‘5 in 10 day’ pass will allow you to use the trains on any 5 days within a 10 day period. Each day is 24 hours from midnight to midnight (with the exception of night trains – see below) and you can use the trains as much or as little as you like within this time frame. When ordering your pass you specify the date on which you would like it to be activated. From then on, Europe is your oyster! Just don’t try and use your pass in your country of residence, or the country in which you buy it; this is the only true restriction. Whilst some discounts are available for travel to the UK border, and for the Eurostar, it’s usually a lot cheaper to just buy a separate ticket for this.

    How do I plan the perfect route?
    Which route to take is an entirely personal thing, and there is obviously no such thing as ‘the best route’, everyone is different. However there are about a million different options, especially if you have one of the more expensive passes, and it can be very daunting figuring out where to start! Personally I would recommend to begin by looking at a map of Europe, on Google or better still the Interrail website (complete with estimated travel times between cities), to get a feel for where the cities on your ‘hit list’ are, see what else is nearby, and then take it from there. Gain insight by looking at other people’s routes – take a look on TSR or the raildude forums. STA travel also offer package trips around Europe, so the routes on their website are often good for some inspiration.
    Be aware that interrailing, no matter how young and keen you are, is very tiring. Be sure to schedule in some more relaxed days here and there, and remember that night trains - while invaluable - are definitely no substitute for a good nights' uninterrupted sleep and a shower. You will get bored of trains eventually, so I'd encourage you to include in your route a few cities which are relatively close to each other (less than 3 hours train), to give yourself a few days of maximum sunshine, minimum hustle and bustle.
    Once you have a rough idea of what you want to do you can then start researching travel times, reservations (see below), and whether or not you need to take night trains. The best way to do this is via the Deutsche Bahn website. Its journey planner will tell you how many changes are required, what type of train it is, and often even detail the ameneties available onboard. Unfortunately some of the more complex routes, especially those that involve tricky border crossings (e.g. Italy to Slovenia) or are run by independent train companies (e.g. Bernina Express in Switzerland), do not appear on regular route planners. The Raildude website usually covers these things much better so it is always worth checking here too.

    What kind of money should I take?
    How much money you should take depends on a lot of things – Eastern Europe vs Western Europe, ‘Rats and Fleas R Us Hostel’ vs a 5* Marriott, plush Italian meals vs saltine crackers and ketchup, a la Tom Hanks in Terminal You can get a rough estimate of how much you need using this handy online calculator: http://www.raildude.com/en/overall-costs. It's easy to do it on a budget, just make smart choices and do your research before you go! Hostel dorms and night trains are a great way to save cash, as is buying snacks or picnic food from supermarkets and loading up on any available free breakfast. Also be sure to take an internationally recognised student card (like this one http://www.statravel.co.uk/ISIC-card.htm) to pick up some good discounts on museums, transport and popular tourist attractions.
    Obviously if you are travelling for a decent amount of time you don’t want to be carrying tons of cash in your backpack, so you should also think about which credit card or cash card option is best for you. Popular choices are the FairFX and Caxton travel cards, which allow you to top up with currency via the internet, text or phone, offer good conversion rates and charge minimal fees for ATM withdrawal. This website is really useful for comparing all the different costs associated with various cards - http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/tra...p-travel-money. Also note that it’s pretty much essential to have a backup in case your card is lost or stolen – it happens. Try to remember to split your money up, so that if someone sneaks up on you on the metro, it doesn’t ruin your entire trip. A small money belt can also be invaluable for storing your cash, cards, passport - and of course Interrail ticket! Places like Rome are notorious for pickpockets, but you'll be fine as long as you use common sense.

    What else should I take with me?
    A list of essential items can be found on the TSR Guide to Interrailing, on the wiki page here: www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Interrailing. The guide also discusses practicalities such as how to stay safe, insurance, and what to do in an emergency. Further to what I said above it's *very sensible* to keep a photocopy of your passport, and a note of your credit card hotline phone number in a safe place, separate from your values. Also be sure to report any thefts to police so you have a report to use for your insurance claim.

    When do I need to make reservations?
    For day trains, an (R) symbol next to a specific train on the Deutsche Bahn website indicates you need to make a compulsory reservation, and that you cannot travel completely free of charge with your Interrail pass. This applies to (most notably but not exclusively) the TGV trains, Thalys service in France/Belgium/Netherlands area, and the high speed intercity trains in Italy. Basically the "ICE" or InterCity Express trains. Fees vary hugely, with the Thalys being most expensive (in fact it is quite extortionate). Usually you can avoid these extra fees by using regional trains and investigating alternative routes; simply select ‘All without ICE’ on the DB route planner and it will show all options which do not require high speed trains. Bear in mind, however, that not all ICE trains require a fee! For example all high speed routes within Germany are free of charge, so if researching say Paris to Cologne, you can take regional trains to another German city and then a high speed connection from there on.
    ALL night trains require a reservation. See below.

    How can I make reservations?
    - Reservations for Western Europe can be booked using the Rail Europe website, by selecting the ‘Rail Passes’ tab and checking the ‘I want a Reservation’ box. However don't expect to be able to make reservations for trains in Eastern Europe or Scandinavia, or domestic routes within Spain, as it's based around the French SNCF system.
    - The German rail company Deutsche Bahn offers bookings for all trains that pass through Germany, plus many others. Bookings can be made by searching for a journey as you usually would, and checking the 'reserve a seat only' box.
    - The Italian service Trenitalia also allow you to make reservations online. Search for a train as usual, and then look for the drop down box labelled 'more fares' on the results page. Select 'global pass' for an Interrail reservation only.
    - Raildude offer bookings for most popular international routes in their online shop.

    If all 4 of these methods fail, and you're still having trouble, then bookings can also be made at stations within Europe, either on a machine or in person, or over the phone. The two most useful numbers are below. WARNING: These are premium rate lines, but a quick google may throw up free 0800 alternatives! (saynoto0870.com)
    - RailEurope 0844 848 4078
    - Deutsche Bahn UK 0871 880 8066

    How do I book and use night trains?
    Night trains are a fantastic way to save time when travelling between cities which are particularly distant from each other. You can find out if such a connection exists between two cities by looking up the start/end destination on Raildude, and then clicking ‘night trains’ in the sidebar. The Deutsche Bahn route planner is also an option, however it can be misleading since some night trains operate only on certain days of the week. At first night trains may seem like an expensive option due to reservation fees, especially if you want to reserve a bed, however remember you will be saving the price of a hostel.
    Night trains can be booked at the station but this is sometimes risky, as all seats and beds may already be booked up before you arrive in the city. An alternative is to book online via the company which runs the train, if they allow it, or to ring Deutsche Bahn or Rail Europe and arrange it over the phone. They will then send you a printed ticket with your reservation on. Fees will depend on the accommodation you choose (a seat/couchette/sleeper) and the rail company. Prices can usually be found on Raildude.
    One curious feature of night trains is that the usual midnight to midnight rule of your ‘travel day’ does not apply. If you board the train after 7pm, and leave it any later than 4am the following day, then this will only count as a single travel day. The day counted will be the one on which you leave the train. The only exception to this rule is if you use a night train on your first journey. More details are given on the interrail website: "Travel with an InterRail pass can only begin from 00:01 on the first day that your pass is valid. For instance, if your InterRail pass is valid from 6 August, you cannot use the 7 p.m. rule on the evening of 5 August."

    A very useful website for more information about night trains is http://www.seat61.com/sleepers.htm. It gives photos of a typical sleeper/couchette compartment, and describes the somewhat unusual numbering system for the beds.

    More information / further resources
    There is plenty of information available online, some of the most useful websites are:
    The TSR Guide to Interrailing! - www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Interrailing
    Interrail - www.interrailnet.com
    Raildude Website and Forum - www.raildude.com/train/
    A beginner's guide to Interrail passes - http://www.seat61.com/InterRail-pass-guide.htm
    Hostelbookers – www.hostelbookers.com
    Tripadvisor – www.tripadvisor.com
    Deutsche Bahn – www.bahn.de/en (& phone app)
    Rail Europe – www.raileurope.co.uk
    Wiki Travel – http://wikitravel.org/en
    Triposo - www.triposo.com

    Whilst I am in no way associated with Raildude, if you use their website to plan your trip then please support the team by buying your Interrail pass in their online shop. You will soon find out that they are total lifesavers, full of expert knowledge!

    Lonely Planet travel guides are brilliant, especially if you are travelling on a budget. Their 'Europe on a shoestring' guide is particularly relevant, but rather hefty. Perhaps to be used to make plans before you leave, before making photocopies of relevant sections to use while travelling.

    The tripadvisor destinations app is also very useful for when you are out and about and need directions. Of course it doesn’t replace a good old traditional map, but for the cities available (Rome, Paris, Barcelona etc – all the big ones) you can use it to get directions to any listed attraction/restaurant/hotel using your iPhone’s built in compass – WITHOUT data roaming! I use an iPhone and have found many useful apps, including free city-specific ones. Be sure to download as many as possible before you travel.
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    I've always wanted to do a europe interrailing trip.
    How much money are you anticipating on spending?
    Not sure if I will this summer or maybe in a future year.
    Are your parents ok with you going alone as an 18 year old girl?
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    You should be fine - gestures ftw. Just make sure you know the important things i.e. how to get back to the hostel/the location of your passport + money.

    I'm actually going tomorrow! 5 days of travel in 10 though - not as good as yours. Milan (flight), zagreb, budapest, berlin, amsterdam.
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    One of my friends did it and had a great time. She went with her friend though so she wasn't completely alone. The only downside was that her bag got nicked from her bedside whilst she was asleep in a hostel in Prague, so she lost all her money, her camera, phone, passport, train tickets and pretty much everything she could have hoped not to have lost. She came out of it alright though, but apparently had a slightly scary moment with the Czech police (they were shouting at her to sign a weird document in Czech).

    That pickle aside, she had an awesome time. Or so she tells me.
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    I did 5 in 10 last summer I started in Berlin and went Berlin->Stuttgart->Venice->Geneva->Paris->Berlin

    What do you need to know?
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    I did the Amsterdam to Budapest stint (albeit with Krakow in between Prague and Budapest, highly recommended) a couple of years ago so can give advice there if needed.

    One thing I'd say - I don't know the second half of the trip so well so this may be where I'm wrong but you're only planning on going to 9 places (so 8 journeys) - why do you need the continuous 22 days when a 10 in 22 would save you £70?

    I'd say that a rule of thumb would be 2-3 nights in each place you visit, give or take due to train times eating in to days which would be spent seeing sites. Sorry if that's stating the obvious but can help a lot when planning. Then again, with interrail, there really is no need to plan too much. It's nice to have an idea but I've been twice now and neither time has the plan been kept to at all. This was due to things like weather, transport options, advice etc. and is worth keeping in mind
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    yeahh I was going to do the 10 days in 22 but didnt know how long I was going to spend in each place! so is my journey not too ambitious then?
    my parents arent sure on me going alone yet...but Im hoping my friend from germany will come with me (and I dont have to worry about accomodation in berlin )
    The only problem is Ive got no idea about money! the costs of accomodation, food, spending etc and then in case you lose your money...do you take a whole wad of cash with you in your rucksack? or a credit card...but Ive had problems with using my card abroad before...Do you think I could do the whole thing for about £800-£1000?

    aside from that, I dont really have any questions as I dont know what I need to know! any tips? places to see? do I need a sleeping bag?!
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    (Original post by tara592)
    do I need a sleeping bag?!
    probably not, but i just finished my packing and i put one in. It saves having to use the bed covers if they don't look too nice. Depends on if you own a small light one i guess.

    Cost depends on how much stuff you want to do and how much you want to spend on food/accommodation. We anticipate our ten days costing about £300, maybe more.
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    I'm going interrailling in July with 3 friends, we booked our flights last week! Flying out to Trieste to start.

    Theres a good thread about it here with lots of good info! http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=1114222

    Our route keeps changing, but currently looks like this.

    Flight to Trieste (1 or 2 days planned in before our interrail ticket starts)
    Ljubljana
    Lake Bled
    Split
    Hvar (Day trip)
    Plitvice Lakes (Day trip)
    Siofok (Lake Balaton)
    Budapest
    Kocise
    Krakow
    Prague
    Munich
    Innsbruck
    Paris (1 night)

    We are using the 1 month tickets by the way.

    We too are unsure of money but from what we've read, and what people have said, is £20-£40 a day depending on how lavish you want to be. It would even out anyway, some places are really cheap, and so you'd spend less here and therefore have more money for the more expensive places.

    What would be interesting to know if how much it costs to use debit cards abroad at ATMs. I know Nationwide use to do free withdrawals abroad but apparently they've stopped doing this now. Many banks have the 2.75% (or something) Currency conversion rate, plus an additional rate like 2% or something, so it could cost you 5% to withdraw! How ever i'm not keen on carrying £1500+ worth of cash around with me for a month!!
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    erm...I dont know if im just a big spender compared to you guys, but we were going to do this over easter but have had to cancel as we cannot afford the spending money. We were going to do 10 cities in 15 days, having a night out in each city. Basically although we had bought the pass, you still have to pay extra for booking fees and overnight trains, I would leave about £100 for that alone. + at least £20 a day for food, your cost of nights out, hostels, taxis, getting to your first destination (passes are not valid in your own country), any activities you want to do while your there, sightseeing, etc. We basically worked out that for our 15 day trip we were going to need about £1500 spending money. Obviously eastern europe will cheaper but places like paris are mega expensive and unless your not planning on going out much at a night time, I think you will need to set aside at least £60 a day.
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    okay this is going to sound like a really stupid question I know...but what do you do when your on your own? I want to go out clubbing but obviously when Im first out there I wont have met anyone! is there a lot of people you meet on the trains and in the hostels then? and then what do you in the day to chill out? like if theres no beaches or anything to just relax or read...ahh you can tell I have no experience at this!
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    (Original post by tara592)
    yeahh I was going to do the 10 days in 22 but didnt know how long I was going to spend in each place! so is my journey not too ambitious then?
    my parents arent sure on me going alone yet...but Im hoping my friend from germany will come with me (and I dont have to worry about accomodation in berlin )
    The only problem is Ive got no idea about money! the costs of accomodation, food, spending etc and then in case you lose your money...do you take a whole wad of cash with you in your rucksack? or a credit card...but Ive had problems with using my card abroad before...Do you think I could do the whole thing for about £800-£1000?

    aside from that, I dont really have any questions as I dont know what I need to know! any tips? places to see? do I need a sleeping bag?!
    looks like you'll be fine with a 10 in 22 ticket - this depends on journeys and connections though - check out www.bahn.de which will give you all the train times you'll need for travelling the whole of Europe. Night trains can be great for saving money on hostels as long as you're a good enough sleeper. It also counts as only one day, even though it's over two days (as long as there is no change during the night). Check out the official interrail website for more detail.

    I've never been particularly good at budgetting but if you allow on average £25 a night for hostels that may be a good start. Some places will be a lot cheaper than this but I'd imagine will be expensive in places like Barcelona and Venice although you'll have to check that out.

    You'll also need to allow for extra fees for trains. Most day trains will not have extra charges although Italy definitely will and night trains will as well. High speed routes such as TGV will probably charge extra.

    Overall, I spent roughly £1000 in a month. This could have been reduced a lot by eating out less and drinking less as well but if you're planning clubbing, bear in mind this is where a big expense will be.

    Taking a huge chunk of cash is of course a foolish idea. I have a Nationwide Visa Debit which, although not as good as it used to be, is still quite cheap in Europe for withdrawals. Check out http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/tra...ravel-money?dd for the latest cards to use.

    Recommended hostels

    Amsterdam - wouldn't recommend this one, its the worst (perhaps even the only bad) hostel I've ever stayed in
    Berlin - you say you don't need one, plus the one i stayed in didn't seem great for solo travellers, very quiet. I heard good things about the wombats here
    Prague - HostelOne was great. It was new when we were there and I think its now got its own bar. The staff were amazing, organising bbqs and barcrawls every night. Perfect for solo travellers. Lovely and clean as well.
    Budapest - Home made hostel - amazing place. Quirky decoration that seemed to keep changing the whole time, great staff, thoroughly recommeded

    think that will do for now!
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    The Clown and Bard hostel in Prague is ace, and reeeeally cheap! They organise their own bar crawls on Saturdays. As for Berlin, the Generator is massive and cheap with free breakfast - always a bonus!
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    We stay in meeting point hostel whenever were in amsterdam, usually between 8-12 euros and does the job
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    ahh thanks for the recommendations everyone! I didnt realise hostels were like that!
    quick question...if I was going to start in amsterdam, and will have to fly out there, my interail ticket wont start until I get the train to berlin? So I could spend as long as I want in amsterdam...is that right?
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    you have to state the day you want the pass to start so its not quite as simple as it starting on the first day you choose to start travelling. Obviously you would start the pass on the day you want to leave Amsterdam though.

    also, depending on where you live, it may be a lot cheaper to start your rail travel in the UK instead of flying to amsterdam
    http://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry/rail-and-sail/holland/
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    (Original post by will504)
    you have to state the day you want the pass to start so its not quite as simple as it starting on the first day you choose to start travelling. Obviously you would start the pass on the day you want to leave Amsterdam though.

    also, depending on where you live, it may be a lot cheaper to start your rail travel in the UK instead of flying to amsterdam
    http://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry/rail-and-sail/holland/
    ahh thanks for that link! I've just spoke to my friend in berlin and shes up for it! so how does this sound?
    mon 26th: fly/sail/train to amsterdam (£30 easyjet or stenaline)
    weds 28th: train to berlin (40 euros)

    sat 31st: berlin to prague - interail pass (239 euros)
    mon 2nd: prague to vienna
    weds 4th: vienna to budapest
    sat 7th: budapest to zagreb
    mon 9th: zagreb to ljubljana
    tues 10th: ljbuljana to venice
    sat 14th: venice to milan
    tues 17th: milan to nice
    thurs 19th: nice to montpellier
    sat 21st: montpellier to barcelona

    weds 25th: barcelona to home (fly £48)

    so there my interail will be 10 days travel...Im just a bit confused with how it ends - you can't use the pass in your own country, so I guess you have to sort out a separate journey home?

    obv the times spent in each country will probably change but there just a rough idea on how long I wanna spend in each country!
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    Sounds good, me and some mates are planning a trip atm, Paris-Amsterdam-Berlin-Prague-Venice-Monte Carlo-Marseille-Barcelona, although we'll probably have to cut it down a bit to save on costs.
    A great website to have a look at for hostels is backpackingeurope.com, and by the looks of it, the average cost of a dorm in high season is around 20 Euros a night, although the average for Eastern Europe drags the West's average down a fair bit (13 Euros in Prague to around 22 in Barcelona or Paris).
    Also sure I saw an easy jet flight from Barcelona to Gatwick for £39.99, but with tax and the like would probably bunk it to around £48 anyways.
    As for things to do, most hostels would be able to give ya details of the top sites and maybe a couple of little gems off the tourist trail, and there's a techno club in an old nuclear bunker in Prague that looks worth a visit if only for novelty's sake.
    But aye, if yew stuck to picking up a baguette and some cheeses and cheap vino from supermarkets, and made the most of breakfast, could keep food and drrink costs relativly low.
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    I am doing an Interail trip too this summer...Amsterdam all the way to Kiev (Obviously with lots inbetween), over the course of a month. What I have learnt is that it is a good idea to book hostels as soon as possible in Western Europe as the best ones are already getting booked up, and also buy 'Europ on a Shoestring' which is a Lonely Planet Guide to travelling around Europe on a small budget. It has all the countries, with hostel recommendations etc, and so it would be a really good thing to use, particularly for planning everything.

    Secondly, go to this forum here: http://forum.interrail.net/ and under the countries section, it has train times etc for each country, which I found to be the best way of planning travel times etc

    I hope that helps, and send me a pm if you need any more help etc.
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    thanks for all the help people!
    my friend from berlin is up for it, but isnt going to do the whole trip with me. Im sure I'll be fine alone once I get into the swing of it, but its just that I will be in Amsterdam alone for the first few days of my trip, and Im a bit worried! How safe is it alone? I dont think I helped myself watching that documentary on young people going missing on their travels...

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