When you think of Interrailing it probably conjures up images of grotty trains, bed bug ridden mattresses and unwashed hair. Backpacking gets a bit of a bad rep, dunnit?
A couple of years ago, three in fact, I went on a month long holiday and used the Interrail system to travel Europe.
Along with my boyfriend, backpack and train pass, I travelled to 9 different countries and visited 14 different cities, from Amsterdam to Kraków to sunny Dubrovnik.
We spent less than £1000 each, which is a lot yes, but you can easily spend that on a week long trip these days. For that £1000, we got to see a huge range of places. We met so many different people, and learnt so much. At around £250 per week, for a train pass, accommodation, food and spends while there, I’d say Interrailing is a pretty smart way to travel.
The reason we could do it so cheaply? Hostels.
Now hostels get a bit of a bad rep don’t they? You think of dirty rooms with unhygienic bathrooms and irritating roomies. But that’s so far from the reality.
We booked all of our hostels on the go using the Hostel World app. There’s thousands of reviews left by travellers, so you can find something that you know will be nice. We tended to just avoid anywhere that had dodgy reviews and trust the majority when it came to the quality of a hostel. We also made sure to stay in hostels that provided breakfast, so we could fill up in the morning and spend less on food later on.
The whole month away, we never paid more than £15 a night, even that was rare with most coming in under £10.
We stayed in such a variety of accommodation, from a 16 bed room in Berlin to having a whole guest house to ourselves in Dubrovnik. There was one night we had to set up camp on a train station bench (side note: do NOT recommend. It’s bloody freezing), but the rest of the time we managed to find nice, clean and friendly accommodation.
As I mentioned before, we managed to travel to 14 different cities within 9 different countries. Which meant we got to see so many different cultures, countries, and lifestyles. We ate where the locals ate, we did the ‘touristy’ sites, we took historical walking tours.
We sea kayaked in Croatia, we visited Auschwitz, we met a self-proclaimed vampire in Bruges. We got to see so much of Europe, cramming in activities and making sure we were constantly on the go. Soaking it in.
Interrailing has given me a desire to travel. It’s made me want to see more of the world, visit more places, learn more about different cultures.
It’s made seeing the world mean more than finding a beach to lounge on for 10 days. I don’t want to go on holiday to somewhere that’s essentially England but with sun. I want tradition, and authenticity, and history, and culture.
I want to experience the world.
And I have Interrailing to thank for that.