Published on May 16, 2013 | by Alana Maytum

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Interrailing 101

Take the time to see more of Europe’s landscape and take the train. [Illustration: Fin O’Sullivan]

 @AlanaCher

BEFORE long trips to Oz and Thailand became the norm for students, travelling by InterRail was the popular rite of passage for many uncultured youths eager for their first taste of international adventure. This was in the 70s when carrying traveller cheques was essential, and regularly sleeping in train stations or hell-holes passed off as hostels were all part of the adventure.

Luckily for us times and technology have greatly advanced and we have the benefits of free wi-fi at almost every hostel – which are more like boutique hotels but with dorms. We have iPhones and chip and pin to make our travels a little bit easier. So if you’re not really up for getting a cheap flight with Ryanair, staying in a grotty hotel in Ibiza or Ayia Napa for a week of partying, why not try interrailing around Europe; soak up the sun, culture and cheap eastern European beer.

Discover Europe

The beauty of interrailing is it literally is just a case of hopping on and off a train in whichever country you like. You don’t need to worry about checking in, airport taxes or putting all your beauty products in those annoying little plastic bags. There are plenty of different rail passes you can buy depending on how long you’re travelling and how many places you want to go, making it really easy to fit in around your summer job.

The tickets aren’t that pricey either considering the distances you can travel and the fact they’re valid in 30 countries, although you must be careful of reservation fees and extra charges for high speed and sleeper trains.

It’s simple to hop off 

Interrailing is also a fantastic option for the first time lone traveller. Trust me, you will never be on your own. Just choose the party hostels that are a hub for the single traveller, all eager to meet new people and party in Europe’s finest capitals. Just make sure you read the reviews on Hostelworld before you book them, they are usually pretty accurate and you don’t want to turn up to some dingy hostel with broken showers and no curtains when you were expecting an en-suite and air conditioning.

And don’t worry too much about planning everything in advance, you can book your hostels a few days before you arrive and you can just turn up for most of the trains. Although it is useful to check if you need a seat reservation; the last thing you want is to be standing for six hours in the corridor of a cramped train which has broken down somewhere between Croatia and Budapest, and has no air-con. Trust me, it is pure agony.

Double-check your hostel reviews

Most people follow similar routes and hit the same cities, so don’t be surprised to see the same faces more than once along the way. But the beauty of interrailing is that it is so flexible, you can change your mind as you go. Strangers quickly become your best mate, and you end up sharing some of the best experiences of your life together.

For more information about interrailing, head to www.interrail.eu

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