Back to school. Back to work, and back to the daily grind. Whatever your daily grind is it’s about to start sooner or later, but why think about it when you can think about your next little expedition around Europe. I mean, if you’re checking into this blog, it’s likely that you’re thinking about coming to Europe to study, or even just visit. That’s the main reason I want to give you a little explanation on a good way to pass your off time if you’re thinking about staying in Europe.
The Interrail pass is a type of skeleton key that can get you around any particular country in Europe you wish to visit. Let’s say you’re in Italy and want to discover a bit of France without having to get on a plane, and maybe stopping in some little towns that you can’t visit in another way. That’s when you can get an Interrail pass and do your mini Eurotrip. I mean if you’re feeling crazy why not travel by train all the way to Turkey by train, yeah you could actually do that as well, as the country is part of the Interrail program.
Now what are the types of passes you can choose from
Let’s start with the big picture by picking 1st or 2nd class passes, this means that you’ll be sitting in 1st or 2nd class in the train. After this self-explanatory choice, you go on and pick if you want a One Country Pass or a Global Pass. The difference between these depends on the countries you pick. So let’s make an example in which you want to visit Italy, France, and Germany by train. In this case, you have to buy a Global Pass, if you only want to travel across Italy you just need a One Country Pass. There is one final differentiation of passes, the Continuous or the Flexi. The first one starts on a set date and finishes on another fixed date. The Flexi Pass, the one most used at the moment, gives you a certain amount of days to use in a span of a month, or 2, or 3, depending on how many days, and time you’re planning on traveling for.
Now once you decide that you want to go on an Interrail, you have to go to their website and order it online. So, don’t think it’s going to be a quick purchase cause they have to send it to you from Ireland.
“Wait a week or so”
Hurray, the Pass is finally at your door. Now that you have it you’ll find inside a ticket with stapled to your Travel Diary. DO NOT DETACH these two as it renders your pass invalid.
“Wait until the day you leave”
Nope, now that is a mistake, cause I’ve done that on my Interrail and it’s a pretty big hassle if you do that so let’s REWIND a second.
“Go back a couple weeks or more”
Now that you have your pass in hand and are starting to plan on where to go and what places to visit, you need to log in to the Interrail website and check if any trains you need to take are in need of a reservation. For example, all High-Speed trains need reservations, so when you have to go to big cities check prior, cause it’ll save you a lot of time.
Let’s say you’re like me and you thought that you didn’t need to reserve these spots, get ready to run to every station to reserve your seats, hoping they haven’t run out. Plus if you reserve at the station the booking fees are higher than those on the Interrail website.
(I’m just gonna go on a little CON tirade here, when I bought the Pass it wasn’t really that obvious that there were going to be extra costs for high-speed trains, I think it should be made a bit more explicit by the company, but other than that it’s pretty good to just hop on a regional train for “free”)
“Jumping back to the day you leave”
You’ve got everything ready, bag, tickets, and wanderlust. What do you have to do now?
First of all, make sure you’re on time to catch your train cause if you’re late that’s your loss. Once you arrive at ticket control you have to make sure to have put the date of travel in your “ticket” that you find in the Travel Diary, and in the Diary you have to put in the date, time of departure, and journey. Cause if that isn’t in it’s not valid and I got on a train real quick and tired forgetting about it and the ticket inspector was all cocky with me, lucky I was too tired to complain at least I didn’t get a ticket, but he wasn’t very fun.
Anyway, all you have to do after this is enjoy the ride around Europe, and stay tuned as I’ll probably write about my experience traveling through Spain and Portugal.