Inter-railing is a popular way to see Europe, as you can buy one train ticket to get around for an extended period of time which cuts the cost of extra travel and means that you can adapt your schedule to suit you. However, seasoned travelers know that there are some handy tips which can make your inter-railing experience run a lot more smoothly, so what can you do to make it an experience to remember for all the right reasons?
Firstly, it’s crucial that you check the restrictions on your inter railing ticket. You don’t want to arrive at a station only to find that you can’t travel on that day or at that time, so acquaint yourself with the conditions of travel before you go so that you can set out a rough schedule. Traveling without a schedule allows you more freedom, but can also mean you get tripped up along the way and have to change your rules at the last minute.
It isn’t always easy to stay in touch with relatives at home or friends from traveling while you’re inter-railing as you might not have the time to use internet cafes frequently, so instead invest in a global SIM card. This works in any country, so you don’t need to worry about enabling it to work in each individual stage of your journey and you won’t have to pay the extortionate prices you might expect from your own home mobile plan.
Take a padlock with you. Lots of the hostels you stay in will use padlocks, and to save you from having to rent one at every hostel you stay at you should take your own. It might only be a couple of euros at a time, but it soon adds up, and you don’t want to be spending your money on an avoidable cost when you could be using it to explore more of the countries you visit.
If you’re not sure about the water quality of the cities you visit, remember that it isn’t just the tap-water you should avoid. If you are offered ice in a drink, decline it, and be wary of salad and fruit which may have been washed in impure water. Also remember to pick up a cheap bottle of water which you can use to brush your teeth. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you may as well be overly cautious rather than wasting days of your trip feeling unwell in bed.
Thierry Arnault is a keen backpacker who has regularly taken advantage of Europe’s extensive rail network to get about the continent