08/02/2017

Interrail Pass Guide

Interrail Pass Guide




                           Todays post, as the title suggests, is all about Interrail passes. In September I went interrailing for five and a half weeks along with two of my university friends. This doesn't make me an expert but I've learnt a lot about the pass and how to use it so I thought I'd create a guide to help others thinking about buying a pass themselves.

What is an Interrail Pass?


Most of you will probably know this already but the Interrail Pass is a pass that allows you to travel through Europe by train. There are various options for the pass depending on how long and often you plan to travel, I'll go into more detail about this later on in the post. One thing that should be noted is that you cannot use the interrail pass in your own country, for example, I wouldn't be able to use it in the UK. I don't think this is a negative as the reason you buy a interrail pass is to explore new countries! The Interrail pass is called a Eurail pass for those outside of Europe. 


How to buy your Interrail pass


Just hop on over to the Interrail website and follow the instructions. They offer protection for your tickets if you want the extra safety net just incase your pass gets lost in the post! The pass is delivered using first class and usually arrives within a couple of days of ordering.

Which pass is right for you?


Interrail Pass wallet

 
                                     I thought I'd do a brief breakdown of the different passes you can buy. It's important to get the right one, not only to save money but also so you don't end up wasting rides. You can get a global pass, which allows you to travel through more than one country, or a one country pass which as the name suggests limits your travel to one country. So here are your options: 

1. A continuous pass 

This pass allows you to travel whenever you want within a certain time span. Basically, with this pass you don't need to count or worry about the number of trains you take. It's unlimited within the time span you've chosen. 

2. Days within pass

The second kind of pass does limit the amount of journeys you take and the amount of days you're able to take journeys on. For example, I purchased the 10 within 1 month. This meant I could have ten travel days/ rides. These did not have to be consecutive but had to all be within a month. 

It's best not to rush into buying a pass even if this means missing out on any discounts. I initially thought I needed a one month continuous pass but after looking at my route again realised I could save money and get the 10 days within a month pass. So even if I had purchased the continuos pass with a discount I still would have spent more than I needed to. It's best to work out your route in more detail so you have a better idea of how many trains you will need to take. 


How much does it cost? 


This completely depends on what type of pass you choose. The global (more than one country) pass range from £182 to £434. I purchased the 10 days within a month pass, this cost me £265. Interrail offer various discounts throughout the year on the passes. You can buy your pass during the discount but don't have to use it straight away. You have up to 11 months to travel on it. At the moment Interrail are offering 15% off passes (until the 31st March 2017).

If you need transport for more than a month then you have to purchase another pass. However, I would recommend taking coaches if this is the case. We used our interrail pass for a month but when we first began our trip we used coaches so we didn't have to purchase another pass. We wouldn't have been able to just get a pass with more travel days as our trip was five and a half weeks and no pass offers travel for more than a month. Coaches are relatively cheap especially in Eastern Europe.

There are youth prices, I think anyone up to the age of 25 falls into this category so make sure you buy this pass if you are 25 or under as it saves you a fair bit of money!

What's included 


Interrail Pass map





 
When you open up your Interrail Pass you'll find various items. Firstly, the actual pass holder which is a blue wallet. You'll also get a map, the actual pass which is where you fill in all your journeys, a wristband and a order summary. 

You can use your map to mark out your itinerary. I only got my pass on the day my trip as it had been delivered to my friends house since I was away. But if I'd received it before the trip I would have definitely mapped out my route. 

The wristband is just a souvenir I think. When we first opened the pack we assumed we had to wear it but there was no information about it so we didn't bother. Good job we didn't as it isn't necessary at all. The only thing that is necessary to always have easy access to when using transport is the pass.


How does it work 


If you have an Interrail Pass (rather than a Eurail one) then you don't need to do anything with your pass beforehand. Simply check all the details are correct and hop on your first train! Fill in your pass and show the pass when they come to check tickets. If you have a Eurail pass then you will need to validate your pass before it's first use. This can be done at a train station before its first use. Those who have the Interrail Pass don't have to do this.


Interrail Pass instructions

 
You must ensure that you fill the pass out each time you take a journey. I never did this before I was on the train just in case our plans changed but I made sure I did it as soon as I was on the train. In some cases our pass wasn't even checked or it was checked but not dated or stamped. When this happened we asked in the ticket office at the station we got off at whether it mattered if the pass was stamped, they said it did not as we'd filled it out and done everything we needed. 

Another reason for not filling it out until you are on the train/ know you're definitely getting that specific train is if you make a mistake filling in the date of travel then you lose that journey. Say you accidentally put the wrong date and cannot correct it without crossing it out and having to use a new date box you don't get that box back. If I'd filled out one of my dates wrong then I would have lost that travel day and only had nine journeys rather than the ten. I don't think this matters for the continuous pass, I'm pretty sure you don't need to use the date boxes on the pass for this pass because you don't have any limit on the amount of days you can travel on. 

Additional costs


While the Interrail Pass covers all of your train journeys (and occasionally other forms of transport, best to check individual countries on the website) it does not cover any reservations that may be required on these journeys. If reservations are required then you must ensure that you make the reservation and pay the fee. You can do this online or at the station you're leaving from. Reservations do mean that you have to be more organised, there may be none left if you leave it too late.

I only had to make reservations for trains in Poland, every other train I took I just got on and filled in my pass. Both times I needed a reservation we ended up getting them on the actual day of travel. This was only because both times we'd arrived at our destination in the evening and the ticket offices had been closed. We allowed extra time and had a back up plan of getting a coach if there were no reservations left. Luckily, we were ok both times but it was stressful not knowing if we would get on the train or not.

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I hope this post has been useful for anyone considering purchasing an Interrail Pass. My Interrail trip was amazing and a great way to explore Europe. I'd love to go interrailing again, maybe just around Italy. If you do go interrailing I also recommend downloading the Interrail app. It can be used without internet and tells you all the train times. I used this to plan all my journeys, it tells you all the stops, the length of the journey and whether any parts of it did a reservation. It's honestly so useful!

Have you ever been interrailing? What countries did you visit?

Sophie 

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