Lifestyle, Travel

Interrailing: Expensive and Ineffective or Exciting and Educational?

A quintessential rite of passage at least to me is the first holiday you have without your parents, and for me this came in the form of a post A-level splurge on an interrailing trip with four other friends. We travelled across mainland Europe from Amsterdam down through Berlin, Paris, Venice and ended in Rome over the course of 14 days – needless to say, we could only spend a few days in each city.

One of the most important reasons we chose an interrailing holiday was the opportunity to see any many places as possible within our two weeks, and though we did do this, I would say we were only able to scratch the surface. Interrailing gives you a taste, an impression of the atmosphere of a city and the people, but it can be challenging to be able to visit the vast number of attractions and historical sites. 

However, something which is unique to the experience is the direct and immediate comparisons you can see between each place. Even between Venice and Rome, we felt a shift in the ways of life and environments within one country.  A view I will never forget is the stunning Swiss mountains and lakes that we saw from Paris, and interrailing remains undefeated in how much you see even when you are travelling.

Alongside the amazing sights, it is easy for me to be nostalgic and forget the very early morning trains, the stress of catching a train in a language you don’t understand, and particularly travelling alone as a group of young women. This of course is sadly not unique to interrailing, but because of the nature of hostels, train stations and being outside of tourist-centred locations there is more of a sense of danger that comes with this type of holiday.

Whether this trip was the best way for us to experience each respective culture, I’m still not sure. It is undeniable that it can be an expensive way to see the world, but past the ticket itself and a flight home, a lot of the cost can depend on which standard of accommodation you stay in and how you eat and drink.

Overall, interrailing is something I do think everyone should try once. If you’ve not been able to travel much, like many of us due to the many restrictions of the past two years, it offers an unrivalled opportunity to find cities that you enjoy while also seeing rural areas that you wouldn’t stumble upon otherwise. It is a trip I will never regret, regardless of the hours I spent at work to pay for everything, and it was a privilege to be able to cram in so many experiences. 

As an active person who hates staying in one place for too long, and dreads having seen all of trip advisor’s top attractions, interrailing provided a much-needed concoction of culture that could be tailored to exactly what we wanted to see, exactly what we wanted to spend, and exactly what we needed from our first adult holiday.

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Julia Reynolds

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May 2022
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