Interrailing is equal parts terrifying and the best experience of your life. You will miss your bed, and your mum; and get a craving for good old British food and manners. But remember, travelling is only as scary as you are stupid. So go out there and make some memories.
We all want an ice-cold drink on a hot summer’s day, but a traveller knows how expensive this can get.
Check that your hostel’s cooking facilities are working before buying your food
This happened to us in Füssen; a food shop for three days after searching all afternoon for a supermarket, only to put the burgers on and realise the oven is out of order.
Take your own linen
If you have room in your backpack, taking your own bedsheet and pillow case can save you linen costs at many hostels. Alternatively, make the decision about linen after you have seen your room. Most of the beds we slept in would have been decent to sleep without.
Take normal towels
Travel towels are useless. Yes, they fold up small, and yes, that’s convenient when travelling with a backpack, but I had more luck drying myself in the air than I did with that thing.
Take ear plugs
Underline it. Highlight it. Put a star next to this little gem of advice.
Book night trains at least a week in advance
A little backstory is necessary when explaining the importance of this. So, after Salzburg, our plan was to head to Vienna for the day before leaving on a night train to Venice that evening. We arrived at Vienna’s ticket office with our Interrail passes and money at hand, only to be told that the train was fully booked, with all other trains to Italy fully booked until two days from then. Seeing as we had to be in Italy for the next day or lose our hostel deposit, this was a slight problem for us. And by slight problem, I mean hyperventilating on the floor of Vienna’s train station, frantically looking at buses (there wasn’t any) and flights (there wasn’t any we could afford) that would transport us to Italy by the next day. Finally, google maps was pulled up and it looked as though we would have to go to Venice via Slovenia. In a last ditch attempt to avoid the impending nineteen-hour train, we trudged back into the ticket office to see if there were any trains leaving for Venice that night. And there was…the only catch? It arrived in Venice at two o’clock in the morning. And that brings me to tip #7.
Always, always, always book a taxi in advance if arriving in the dark
I’d wish I’d known this when I arrived at Venice because let me tell you, the city looks a lot less romantic when waiting outside Mestre train station for a taxi until four o’clock in the morning. Seeing as it’s a major train station, you would think that there would be some taxi’s waiting outside. I ended up having to turn on my mobile data to google phone numbers for Venice taxi companies. Let it be said that I don’t speak a lick of Italian, and so that was a disaster in itself.
Book all high speed trains as early as possible
On more than one occasion we had to change travel plans because we didn’t do this. Save yourself stress and book as soon as you arrive at a train station.
Take a neck pillow
A neck pillow was honestly the best investment I made for this trip, and it was a real life saver for the longer trains.
Always take more money than you think you’re going to need
You will most likely spend everything you have and more. Unexpected hostel, train and food costs can add up. Make sure you have enough to get home if a lack of money cuts your trip short.