There is something undeniably romantic, yet also rather practical, about rail travel - and this combination makes it the perfect mode of transport to explore Europe.
If you are about to set off on a European trip you are probably feeling excited, overwhelmed and a bit nervous, in no particular order. Whether this is your first time to the continent or you are a seasoned old pro, making use of an InterRail pass will save you time, money and endless headaches.
That said, the ins and outs of using these invaluable passes can be difficult to parse, and the instructions can seem a bit convoluted and confusing. Thankfully, we have drafted this comprehensive guide that will help you to learn everything you need to know before you start your journey.
Countries covered by InterRail Passes
Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.
Who can use an InterRail pass?
In a word: everyone! But there are certainly some differences in the price that people of different ages will pay. Youths under the age of 26 are eligible for a lower priced pass than adults over 26, and seniors over the age of 60 pay a rate in between these prices. The great news is that children under the age of 11 who are travelling with a paying adult are free!
It is important to note that InterRail passes can only be used by residents of Europe, Russia and Turkey. Non-residents can use the Eurail pass program, which is similar but does have some differences (it covers only 28 countries).
Note - you may not use a One Country Pass in your country of residence (but you can now use a Global pass in your home nation).
Global Passes vs. One Country Passes
Before you do anything else (other than read the rest of this article!), head to the InterRail official website and have a look at the passes that are available. Here is a basic explanation of the two types of passes you’ll find:
- Global passes – The global passes are your best way to see the most of the continent on a budget. It will allow you to visit 30 different countries, and prices start at £154.00 for the shortest duration, 2nd pass class.
- One country passes – Like the name suggests, this type of pass allows you to choose one country in specific and explore to your heart’s content (or, at least for as long as your pass allows!). Each country has a different price and offers different plans – click here for more information about specific countries.
Continuous or Select Days?
The next decision you must make is how many days you will need your pass.
Do you have a completely set itinerary and know exactly how many days of rail travel you need? Then a pass designated as “5 days in 15 days” or “10 days in one month” might be perfect for you. This simply means that you can only use the rail pass for a maximum number of days within the allotted period.
If your plans are not set in stone and you prefer to go with the flow, or if you plan to move around A LOT, a continuous rail pass is probably your best option.
First or second class?
Your final decision is all about your personal preference and comfort level. Fancy yourself a ‘flashpacker?’ Then it is first class all the way. Want to save money for cervezas, gelato and bratwurst? Second class can save you some pounds.
It is important to know that, while your pass gives you full access to a vast network of trains, some services do require a seat reservation in advance. This often costs around 5 Euros, and it is recommended that you do this at least a day in advance to avoid missing out on availability.
Protect yourself and your investment
Before you step foot on the ferry, train or airplane destined for the continent, you need to protect your health and your travel arrangements. Accidents and emergencies happen, and travelling without insurance is a huge mistake that you will likely regret. In order to compare policies from insurance providers and get comprehensive coverage at a great price, head to PayingTooMuch.com.