FULL Interrail Guide: Everything you have to know

A full interrail guide with all informations you have to know before buying your ticket.

1. My own experience

I travelled two times using Interrail. My first trip was a short one from Munich to Stockholm with the 5 days ticket. I went from Munich to Berlin to Copenhagen and then to Stockholm. I have to admit that this trip was very messy and I didn’t have the right ticket for it (but more to that on no.2).                    

I booked the seat reservations in advance and thought I had everything planned out well, which wasn’t the case at all! Overall I wasn’t really convinced about interrailing and I wish I would have read an article like this before planning my trip. You might be wondering why I still made another interrail trip… Before this first trip I signed up on discover EU, which is a “give away” for all European – 18 year-olds. You get the chance to win an 7 days 1 Month Ticket, so I signed up for it. I didn’t win one at first, but one or two months later I got an e-mail that someone gave their ticket back and I went from the waiting list to the winning one. So now I had a 7 days ticket for free and of course I didn’t want to waste it. So I thought I’m gonna give it a second attempt. This time I took a train to France (Lyon), afterwards I went to Spain and from there to Portugal, Lisbon, then to Lagos. I took a plane on my way back, because I had a specific time to be in italy and then used my next train to go to Bressanone and from there back home. This trip has been exactly one month long and went a bit better than my first one. Nevertheless it wasn’t the best experience, since I had some seat reservation problems.

2. Mistakes I made

1: Not planning the travel days correctly/the problem with night trains.

 

A thing I didn’t know was that when you take a train over night (and you have to change train), it counted as TWO travel days, although you you are only going from one destination to the next one. Since I didn’t know this, I already bought a ticket for five travel days. I also already bought the seat reservation for all trains, which means I had to get a refund of the reservation and had to buy an extra ticket

 

2: Traveling inside your home country

After I thought I fixed problem No 1 with getting the refund and choosing a different train, I got the next problem. I wanted to put my last train in the interrail app to get the ticket (Stockholm to Munich), but it told me that I already used a „ my country travel day“. Unfortunately you are only allowed to travel inside your home country two times, which means that you can only travel out of it and come back to it. What I did wrong, was going to Berlin, which is inside Germany, first and then going out of Berlin, so we already used two travel days inside the country and couldn’t go back home. We had to pay an extra flight to fly back from Stockholm to Munich.

 

3: Not planning in advance

 

Unfortunately Interrailing doesn’t work for spontanous (short-)trips anymore (for most destinations, not every). For some countries it’s impossible to decide a day before taking the train where you will go next. This is because of the seat reservations that are a law in most countries. If you don’t plan your trip in advance it can happen that the trains are fully booked out and you don’t get a seat reservation anymore. There are different types of seat reservations, so you need to inform yourself about them as well (I will tell you about them on no 3). Some countries require a paper seat reservation. On the website it said I could order it until 7 days before my trip starts, but when I wanted to do so, it said it’s too late and my ticket doesn’t arrive in time (not high season). Friends of mine had to wait 2 months for the seat reservation to arrive!

4: Wrong budget planning

 

Seat reservations can be extremely expensive in some countries. Before buying my first ticket, I didn’t know that I had to pay so much for some seat reservations, which made me think I am in a completely different budget than it turned out to be. So make sure how much they are. 

 

5: Not enough time to change trains
Sometimes the interrail website gives you train connections that don’t make any sense. One time I had to get out of one train and in the same minute my next train was supposed to start from the other side of the translation, which is impossible. So be careful with that!

3. How to plan your interrail trip correctly

How you plan your trip and how long in advance you have to plan it, depends on your kind of traveling. What I mean by that is, that it depends on how long you travel and how spontaneous you are.

Option 1: You have a specific time or a couple of weeks in which you want to make your Interrail trip. You also have specific destinations in mind that you want to visit during your time/a specific route.

 

-> BEFORE buying a random ticket, I would recommend to start with PLANNING your trip. This can avoid a lot of the mistakes I made.

 

-> Start your planning early enough! Some countries require a paper seat reservation. On the website it said I could order it until 7 days before my trip starts, but when I wanted to do so, it said it’s too late and my ticket doesn’t arrive in time (not high season). Friends of mine had to wait 2 months for the seat reservation to arrive!

 

-> Write down all your destinations and go to the intterail website to check the train times and if there is enough time between two train connections in case you have to change train. See if you have to take a night train and keep in mind that this can count for two travel days. While checking the website you will also see if the seat reservation are still available and how much they are.

 

-> Count how many travel days you have and buy the right ticket.

 

-> Download the app „EUrail/Interrail planner“. You can save the train rides you found before and add them to your ticket ( This step is very important, only saving the ride is not enough! It has to be added to a travel day on the section “mypass”. You can still change the train ride until the day before the trip.

 

-> After you made sure that it works out, buy the required seat reservations.

 

4. How to save money on your trip

->TRAINS: Sometimes, especially on short travel days, there are busses that are even cheaper than the seat reservation itself, so I recommend checking this out as well, in case you want to save some money.

 

>TRAINS: You can filter your search on train times. Sometimes there are trains that don’t require seat reservations. They might take a bit more time, but for that you save money on the seat reservations.

 

->ACCOMMODATION: Traveling on a budget I recommend staying in hostels. You will meet so many people who are interrailing as well there and it will be a fun experience without spending too much money. Most hostels have a kitchen that you can use, so you will also save money on food.>FOOD: Since you will be most likely visiting cities on your Interrail trip, I recommend the app “TOGOODTOGO”. You can get full meals for 2-4 Euros from bakeries, companies, hotels, restaurants that would normally throw the food away. You save a lot of money and you do something good for the environment as well. This app works in most cities! I’ve had full hotel breakfast buffets for 2,50Euros, for example.

 

>FOOD: Always make sure you bought enough snacks from a supermarket for you travel days. Otherwise you’ll end up spending a lot of money on Train station food.

I traveled with a budget from 7-12Euros for food and drinks a day (Depends where in Europe I was) 🙂

 

5. What kind of seat reservations are there?

Germany: Here you don’t need seat reservations, you can just hop on the train with using a travel day

 

Spain: You need PAPER reservations. You need to book them a long time in advance because they have to be sent to you. Another option is to get them directly at an international station, this has to be done at least 72 hours before the train ride.

 

Portugal: Reservations can only be made directly in the country.

 

France: You can book them online.

 

Denmark: You can book onlineSweden: You can book online

NOTE:

I hope this little guide helped you a bit! I would be very happy if you leave me a comment! If you have any more questions, you have something to say/ or tell about your own experiences or to add, I would be very happy if you leave me a comment down the page! (You can also text me privately using the contact tool or on instagram!) Thank you!!! 🙂

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