21st January 2018
Hello and welcome back to The Jack Experience! Last summer, I embarked on the trip of a lifetime with four of my very best friends all around Europe to celebrate the end of our A Levels before we all moved away to different universities. Interrailing was an absolutely incredible experience, and one I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone looking for an adventure in 2018. This was something completely different to anything I'd ever done before, and so I learnt an awful lot en route, which I thought would be really useful to share with any potential future travellers! Tickets at the ready, next station: wanderlust.
- Travel documents + passport
- A smaller, daytime bag
- Underwear and socks
- At least 7 t-shirts (and shirts)
- Swimming shorts / bikini
- A comfy hoodie
- Something to sleep in
- Camera, phone, and chargers
- Comfortable trainers
- Entertainment for journeys
Top Tip #1: Often, major international train stations will have lockers available for travellers to store their baggage*. This is usually inexpensive (I'd say we paid about 3 euros each for 24 hours in most places) and super convenient, especially if your hostel is quite far from the station or you don't have long in a city. Pack your essentials in a small day bag, and then ditch your huge rucksack at the station. *Emotional baggage not included.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Top Tip #2: Annoyingly, websites like Hostelworld use a payment system in which you pay three-quarters of your hostel fee on arrival, not online in advance. Make sure you work out exactly how much you each owe before arrival (sometimes receptionists will cheekily try to charge more) and use cash to avoid additional costs.
My Experience with Hostels:
Before this trip, I'd never stayed in a hostel before, and so was naturally very anxious about how it would be to do so. I actually had a very good experience with almost all of the hostels we stayed in, and found that it's a really great way to meet other, like-minded travellers. Hostels can also store your bags for the day even after check-out, and have discounts for many attractions / parties / bar-crawls within the city they inhabit.
Our Chosen Route
Top Tip #3: Make sure you pack some things to keep you entertained on the long train journeys because, trust me, 'boring' is an understatement. Download a couple of games for your phone (I'd recommend Peak, Ballz, Bouncing Ball, Hop, and Falling Ballz), and bring some playing cards. Also, load some books onto a Kindle or other tablet, as travel time is the perfect opportunity to work your way through some novels! Loading these onto a tablet makes your bag much lighter, and many classics are free to download. Bargain!
Bring a padlock with you. Often, hostels will provide lockers in the room you're sleeping in, but will charge you to rent out a padlock from the front desk. Bring your own to ensure your bag is safe at night!
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Don't stop at the first place you see for dinner. Make sure you look around at different menus, as prices in capital cities HUGELY vary. We found meals for as little as 5€ in the backstreets of Amsterdam!
How I Found Things to See / Do:
One word for you: Instagram. Before you go, check out different hashtags on Instagram relating to the cities you're visiting, or seek out the influencers who inhabit them. This way, you'll find the most picturesque spots, as recommended by fellow tourists and locals! You can also simply search 'Things to do in ____' into Google or browse travel websites such as Lonely Planet or GoEuro for additional tips, as well as consulting local maps and guide books.
Top Tip #5: Currency converter apps are brilliant in helping you to work out current exchange rates, so you don't accidentally over-spend. Certain places, such as the Czech Republic and Hungary, use their own currencies which can be very confusing. Make sure you know which currencies you need to bring!
Top Tip #6: Make sure you read the reviews of all hotels, Airnbs, and hostels when booking. However, also be aware that sometimes they will have bad reviews from non-travellers or older people complaining about noise levels or the amount of travellers etc. If you're looking to be out late, then a one-star review complaining about guests returning in the early hours of the morning won't be a problem!
Booking Accommodation Tips:
1. Surprisingly, sometimes Airbnbs can be cheaper than hostels or hotels
2. Check the location - sometimes hostels will say they're in a big city, but are really on the outskirts. Make sure public transport is available.
3. On long journeys you can often book a bed on a train, so travel overnight to hit 2 birds with 1 stone
In terms of money, I took some cash out with me, but loaded most of my money onto a Loot card, which is much easier to use, and exchanges your pounds into other currencies for you. I'd highly recommend.
Thank you very much for reading! I hope this guide helps you prepare for your very own interrail trip, or encourages you to book one! I absolutely loved it, and I guarantee you will too! For more, check out my Off The Rails travel vlogs over on my Youtube channel by clicking HERE - I daily-vlogged my ENTIRE trip, and all the adventures we had on our journey. If you have any other questions comment them down below or tweet me @jackbenedwards and I'll try to impart my wisdom! Much love, and see you next time, Jack x
By Jack Edwards