Last summer, five of my closest friends and I went interrailing around Europe. We visited Milan, Venice, Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Berlin over the course of two weeks. The holiday was unlike anything I have ever experienced. One day you are in the serenity of Venice, the sun sparkling on the gorgeous blue canals and the next you are exploring a lit-up bustling city at 3am. I have never experienced so much culture and city life in such a short space of time, talked to so many different people from all over the world, or ever walked so many steps! It was like embarking on six city breaks all in one, with non-stop walking and sight-seeing. It’s the exact opposite to a relaxing holiday where you relax on a sun lounger with a book all day, but in a really good way. Here are some of the pros and cons of interrailing:
- The Amount Of Places You Visit
PRO: You get to see so much in a short space of time; it’s like multiple holidays all wrapped up into one.
CON: There are places you will really enjoy and will wish you had more than just a few days there, feeling as though you need a full week’s holiday to explore everything. Similarly, there may be places that are not as great as you imagined they would be and you may have wanted less time in those places. You also have to ensure that the travelling route you are taking makes sense and you are not going back on yourself or going too far out of the way as destinations that are closer together are easier to travel to by train.
PRO: Interrailing is cheap in the sense that you can go on multiple holidays in one. Albeit they are shorter but you still get to discover a ton of amazing places for a lower price than going on separate excursions to all of these places. You can purchase different variations of the interrail travelling pass online for different prices, depending on how many train journeys you wish to make and how long you are going to be travelling for. You can buy one that suits both your needs and your budget, and it is a lot cheaper than purchasing a bunch of separate flights or train tickets.
CON: Because you are going on so many journeys at once, upfront it can seem a little more expensive than another holiday. But if you think about everywhere you are going for that price then you realise that it really is the cheapest way. Having to take different currency can also be a little bit awkward. Most countries in Europe use euros, but there are those such as Hungary and the Czech Republic which we visited that do not. This can make it a little difficult carrying around various different currencies, especially if you have lots of change left over from one country that you cannot use in any of the others. But as long as you are aware of the currency that each country accepts and plan the conversion of money and budget accordingly then all should be fine.
CON: Interrailing requires a lot more planning than other holidays because you are not just going to one place. You have to find accommodation for each place, trains to each destination and decide everything that you are going to do in each place, where you are going to sight-see to maximise your experiences everywhere.
PRO: This means that you’ll be prepared for each place you visit and won’t waste any time debating on where to go or what to do because you’ll already have a game plan, meaning that you can have jam-packed days full of everything you wanted to see and do and hopefully will not miss out on much due to lack of time.
- Alternative Accommodation
PRO: As there were six of us travelling together in a group, we were lucky enough to have our own private hostel rooms and were able to rent amazing apartments (including a huge penthouse!) for ridiculously cheap prices per night.
CON: I suppose some people might prefer hotel luxuries and may be uncomfortable staying in a hostel in a large room with strangers they do not know, as they may feel as though their belongings are not secure or that they don’t have any privacy.
- Night Trains
PRO: As you are travelling overnight from one place to the next you do not miss any days discovering an amazing new place.
CON: Again, we were lucky that there were six of us, as this meant that on both night trains we travelled on we had our own private compartment to sit in. I can imagine that trying to sleep next to strangers in such a small area could be quite awkward. Looking back on the experience now, I have to admit, it’s quite funny, but it felt absolutely horrendous at the time. 10/11 hours on a sweaty, crowded train with either a small hard bed that you almost fall off at every turn or a flat straight seat that you cannot get comfortable sitting in whatsoever meant no sleep at all for me on either night. Some people can sleep absolutely anywhere and so are fine, but I am not one of those people, so it was not an enjoyable experience when you have a full day of travelling to do the next day.
- The People You’re With
PRO: I love my friends, and spending so much time with them is no problem for us as a group. We always have the best times together and are all very easy going people who never argue.
CON: Luckily my friends and I are so close and good-natured, but I can imagine that certain groups travelling together for such a long period of time may eventually get on each other’s nerves. An individual in the group may be a little bossy, or perhaps people would want to do different things and this could cause tension.
Words by Ally McLaren