By Rebecca Stiffe
InterRail is largely becoming an almost mandatory rite of passage for students of the twenty first century, with organisations such as USIT creating a large forum of information for eager young travellers, dying to swap the piles of text books and assignments for novels and ticket stubs.
InterRail passes are accepted in over thirty European countries and there are 40,000 railway stations among the InterRail network. From the modern cities of Frankfurt, and the older ones such as Rome, to the beautiful landscapes of Austria and Greece, the routes are endless and entirely up to the individual to decide upon.
There are numerous types of InterRail passes. The Global pass is by far the most common, allowing the traveller to have access to any of the thirty countries listed on the USIT website.
|FLEXI 5/ 10 DAYS
|CONTINUOUS 15/ 22 DAYS
The other alternative, lesser know is the InterRail One country pass, allowing the ticketholder to explore any one country. The prices vary depending on the chosen country and students can take as many trains as they like per day, for a maximum of eight days. Important to bear in mind for travelling students is that high speed trains and night trains can often require a paid booking.
Trisha Gragera, 21, from Long Beach California, set off on her own InterRail trip in Autumn 2014.
Was it daunting to travel by yourself/would you have preferred to go with people?
“I’d be lying if I said I was 100% confident when I first left. I was trying to focus on what I wanted to do with myself and my life. It was really about putting myself out there, and just giving myself some time to be alone and be drawn to the things I liked and enjoyed and that’s something you don’t really get a chance to do when you’re at home surrounded by the same people, and same environment. Being alone in a foreign place, where no one who really knows you allows you to be the person you’re most comfortable being because they have no pre-conceived notions of what you’re like, what you’ve done, and what you’re supposed to be and that’s liberating. Even still, I never felt like I was traveling alone. You constantly meet people.”
Q: What do you think would be the differences you’d have experienced if you had gone with other people?
“Trying to coordinate with them. My plans and itinerary changed more times than I can count during my experience, and it’s much easier to go with the flow and switch it up to whatever feels right than asking someone what they feel like doing that day. Some days I wanted to just sit in a cafe and write, or people watch; other days I would spontaneously decide to take a day trip to a neighbouring city. I can’t imagine having to ask anyone permission to do any of that.”
Q: What tips would you give anyone going interrailing?
“Have a general plan of what you’d like to do and where you’d like to go because it’ll give you a good sense of your time management, but don’t adhere to it too much. I had the most incredible times in places and situations that I never expected, or never planned to go.”
Q: What were the difficulties you experienced?
“The language barrier. Europeans’ English is generally pretty good, but it’s always difficult trying to figure out who actually speaks English and is willing to help you. Most travellers in hostels were American, British, or Australians, so in that regard, making friends was easy, but I would have loved to interact with the locals a lot more.”
Q: Was it long enough?
“I went for two months, which depending on who you’re talking to can be considered too long for some and hardly enough time for others. By the end of my trip, I was just getting tired of moving around so much, and my head was filled with so many plans and ideas of what I wanted to do and get done when I got home that I was more than ready to go.”
Q: What was your favourite place and least favourite place?
“My three favourites were Berlin, Budapest, and Barcelona. Berlin for its history, Budapest for its nightlife, and Barcelona for its just overall beauty and culture. My least favourite place was Vienna. I just wasn’t a fan. It was beautiful yes, but in comparison to so many of the other places I went… I just wasn’t wowed by it.”
If you could some up your interrailling experience in three words, what would you choose?
“Just do it.”