Having a Rail of a Time

By Laura Conaghan

The glorious taste of sweet freedom is almost within our reach and as we stubble and crawl over the finishing line we look ahead to the promise of relaxation and a stress free summer. The only question we are now left to face is how we plan on spending our time off.

Well for those whose purse strings can’t quite stretch to afford two weeks in Dubai (as much as that Snapchat story made you wish you could), I introduced to you the biggest craze of the summer- InterRailing. Haven’t heard of it? Have you been living under a rock?

The InterRail pass is a rail ticket designed for EU residents and they have recently become quite popular for students all over Europe given that we qualify for a ‘youth’ train pass which is a good bit cheaper than the standard one on offer. You have the option to buy either a Global Pass, which is valid in 30 countries stretching from Macedonia to Montenegro, and you can select your duration of travel, 22 days or 1 month of continuous travel, 5 days of travel within a 10-day period or 10 days of travel within a 22-day period.

If 22 days of travelling around Europe sounds slightly overwhelming you can opt for the One Country Pass. Pretty self-explanatory, the ticket is only valid to travel around one European Country and lasts for one month.

With one country passes starting at £32 and Global passes starting at £149, it is hard to not see the allure to InterRailing.

Rachel Procter a Strathclyde Student spoke to me about her plans for InterRailing this summer: “I’ve chosen a Global Pass across Europe that gives me 22 days continuous travel from the activation date. Our route starts at Italy, goes to Croatia, then Hungary, Czech, Germany, The Netherlands and Brussels. This means that as we (herself and her boyfriend) are travelling around Europe we can follow the sun and get the best weather.

On why she had chosen InterRailing, Rachel said, “It’s cheap, it’s low maintenance and I basically love trains and travelling. I am not one for dolled up holidays of glamour and look great in bikinis – I wanted culture, swimming, sun and friends for as cheap as possible, but more importantly I wanted all of this leggings, t-shirts and natural hair”

So if like Rachel you are looking for a holiday than stretches further than jägerbombs in Zante then InterRailing might just what you’ve been looking for.

Despite having never personally experienced the wonder of InterRailing across Europe, a little bit of research and common sense led me to arrive at these four most important points for those considering throwing on the backpack and caution to the wind.

  1. Book hostels in advanced. Nothing quite like arriving in a strange city and having absolutely no clue where you can spend the night. Save yourself the stress and also the money by booking in advanced. Also, whilst the idea of a cheap and wild 22 days of travelling across Europe comes attached to it the stigma of dirty and dingy youth hostels, you might be surprised at just how much luxury some provide. I’m not saying it’s going to be like the Ritz but for a weary traveller seeking a place to put your head down for the night, it’s as good as.
  2. Pick who you travel with cautiously. It’s a bit like the transition from living in first year halls to second year and having to cut ties with those who a) never did their share of the housework and b) blasted their crappy music on the Sunday morning after a night out at The Garage. Can you not. For some of you this trip is going to last the best part of a month and sharing that time with someone who doesn’t have the same interests as you nor shares the same opinions, well isn’t that just a recipe for a not so romantic meal at the Santa Marina in Venice. Aim for an argument free adventure.
  3. Learning the language. Now, I’m not saying you need to become a fully qualified French speaker but it makes sense that if you’re planning to spend a few days in France then learning the basics of ‘Hello’, ‘Can you tell me where… is?’ would make sense. If you don’t fancy adding a phrase book to the weight of your backpack then learn a little before you head off. You’ll have plenty of time to practice on the train journeys. Failing that, make like Joey from Friends. As long as you think you’re saying it right then what could possible go wrong.
  4. And last but not least. Enjoy yourself. This is the adventure of a lifetime, a chance to meet new people, visit new places and no one InterRail holiday will be the same as anyone else’s. So, what are you waiting for?