Before inter-railing, organisation is key! I’m an incredibly organised person and have lists and lists hanging around my house but even I got bogged under by all the planning of this trip so it is essential to have at least a week or two beforehand with your travel partner(s) to get everything organised. Ellen only came over 4 days before we left for inter-railing and that was nowhere near enough time to get yourself organised.
1. Plan every place you want to go, how long you want to be there and the connections to get to the next place. We had to change our trip around slightly because some of the connections between the places we wanted to go didn’t work out so make sure that is all done. The Interrail website recommend Raildude as a very good website for train details but in our experience, they did more harm than good to our trip giving wrong train times, wrong details and sometimes just making up connections so the best thing to do is check Rail Europe train times or while on your travels, go and check at the desk to make sure they’re right and if you need to change trains anywhere. If you are staying somewhere for a few days and need a reservation, make it the moment you arrive into the train station, booking it early is no harm.
2. Reserve hostels and hotels as quick as possible for every night you don’t take a night train. Sometimes the hostels can be cheaper outside the city but cost you more in public transport to get in that you are better off paying a bit more to be in the city, especially in places like Paris and Milan. Read the reviews people have written, if there are more bad than good…don’t book it!! Check out the differences between sites like Hostelworld, Hostelbookers and Hotels.com. Sometimes its cheaper to book a room in a hotel than pay for 2 beds in a hostel, and trust me, it’ll be a lot nicer! And don’t expect too much from a hostel, as long as you have a clean bed, a bathroom with a shower and maybe some wi-fi, life is better than you can have expected!
3. Make sure you have enough money in your account. Also known as, working your ass off before you leave. Ellen and I had a serious amount of money before leaving and didn’t think we’d need half of it but were sadly mistaken. As I was the one with a Visa card to book online things, I took care of the accommodation and night trains and Ellen paid for the day-to-day expenses and believe it or not, the expenses were a lot more than the accommodation with things like public transport, constant drinks in hot countries and lockers for your bags, these things add up! The system we used for the money was a better idea than us going our own way with money and made things a lot easier at the end when we were totting up the money.
4. Last but not least, be prepared. If you’re travelling in Western Europe for example France, Italy, Spain etc, make sure you have enough clothes to last because there may not always be a launderette. However, we hadn’t enough clothes for when the weather got cold in Paris and Berlin so make sure you have a couple of warm outfits as back up. You will also need:
- Bug Spray (I was bitten alive and am still recovering!)
- Germoline/Savlon: whichever antiseptic cream you use, for when the bugs fight through the spray!
- Suncream! If you burn easily, factor 50, I got sunburn in Rome with factor 50 on and please remember, even put cream on the places you don’t think will burn, I got awful sunburn on only one of my feet!
- Aftersun: Standard!
- A hat, I may look ridiculous in some of my photos but i avoided headaches and sunstroke cos I wore a hat, it made much more sense just to wear it!
- Proper shoes. If it rains, flip-flops just look ridiculous!
- Technology! Ipod, Kindle, Phone, bring it all. We had my laptop but only because I was moving home at the same time. On those train journeys you will be lost without something to do. you can only stare at trees and fields for so long!
- Face wipes and moisturiser: if you’re sleeping on a night train, nothing makes you feel better than making your face feel more fresh!
- Ladies, make sure you plan things and bring everything you need. I’m sure there is nothing worse than something arriving and they don’t understand what you need in your very broken German or Italian.
- A sense of ‘who gives a shit’: I didn’t have this and it ruined my time. It’s not like I did it on purpose, I genuinely really wanted to enjoy it but I’m very highly strung and this trip was just not for me. Anyone who can relax even when things are going wrong, this trip is for you!
I’ll be updating with all the cities we went to, to do and what not to do but if you want to know more or have a specific question, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to answer it for you! Oh and if you wondering about the name….its pretty elementary, I look like Dora and I travel a lot!