With deadlines approaching, money disappearing and winter in full swing, it is officially time to look for your summer holiday. Day dreaming of sun, sea and sangria, whilst sipping coffee in a cramped library wanting for essays to write themselves. Inter-railing could be the perfect holiday to get you through the demands and hangover of University life.
What is it?
Inter-railing, in short, is traveling to any known destinations by train. Numerous companies offer monthly tickets with various different prices, dependent on where and when the traveling began. Most companies offer a similar package, the inter-railing ticket itself, allows for unlimited trains on 3, 4, 6 or 8 days in a specific month. Many journeys ultimately have a destination, i.e. Austria.
Planning a route with limited travel days, allows for site seeing, shopping and maybe a drink or two. Whilst en-route new destinations, little villages, wineries or unknown cities could provide a welcome distraction from train life. Not to mention some needed Instagram pictures to make everyone know you are having the time of your life.
The train rides…
Train rides, for many are a definite deciding factor when choosing to either inter-rail or not, with issues such as safety, train delays and traveling times. Many trains abroad are cramped, sweaty and some do not have the luxuries trains in the UK. Gone will be the days of locked toilets, food trolley or in some areas of the world, a seat. Obviously, this is not the case for many trains however, some research into the train companies for your destination.
Prior to the journey, make sure you check to see which train companies are included. If the ticket bought from a global company or the company the ticket bought from has a strong association with certain companies, other train firms may not accept the ticket. Some avid travelers have been left stranded, using one of the days travel and not been able to get to their dream destination.
Prices-Are they worth it?
With many train tickets, within Europe generally priced around £60-£150 dependent of the days traveling and the ultimate destination. The price definitely matches flying with flights to and from Austria being around £99-£150, very similar to the £99 plus price point of Inter-railing.
Flying, however, is less cramped and takes a lot less time. Saying that, flying directly to a destination does not allow new destinations discovered. Memories from experiencing new area will last a lifetime, something money cannot buy.
Delays and faults on the line can happen at any time, being at the mercy of high winds and rain could mean that you could be waiting for the storm to pass without a hostel or even a rain mac. Small stations close to the boarders, struggle to keep traffic flowing in storms.
Whilst, delays are a common issue with inter-railing, another is the length of time you spend on a train. Train traveling times could be a full 24 hours, spending that amount of time in a confined space would dull any experience. With or without the ‘once in a lifetime’ views and experiences, traveling times are a huge part of inter-railing. Prior to any journey, some research undertaken to ensure that delays, amenities and traveling time itself would not affect your memories of the trip.
Hostels, to wing or to book?
Hostels. Like them or not, they are a cheap alternative to hotels whichever country to intend on going to. Prices can range from as little as £15 in Europe based on the amount of people sharing a room and the facilities, which the hostel offers.
If you are intending to use hostels throughout your travels, booking is key to ensure you have somewhere to sleep. In some hostels, walk-in are preferable but not always possible. Hostels can be booked up quickly, especially those with a high rating on customer review websites such as Trip advisor. Whether booking or not, a large sturdy lock is necessary for the safety of all your belongings.
Is it for you?
The simple question you have to ask. No doubt, this would be a summer of wonder, but constantly worrying about train times, safety of your belongings or just if you should have just gone to Malia. If it is, planning routes, hostels and experiences is necessary. Paying prior for hostels, experiences or anything else may save time and money, allowing amazing experiences to develop and last a lifetime. Traveling is not for everyone, but for the few it is, it can be life changing.