The reality of Team Ponchovi.
I spent last Summer running around Europe unsupervised with four friends from my sixth form. We saw some beautiful sights and some lovely sunshine, but at the same time we realised that inter-railing/travelling is not as glamorous as it may appear on Instagram.
Before you travel:
- Buy a good guidebook before you go. Our holy grail was The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget, and it served us well. The most exciting moments being when the hostels we booked on a whim turned up in the guide!
- An international NUS card is definitely useful. I saved my money several times over on museum entry.
- Make sure you check out local laws/rules when you’re travelling. Also a useful tactic for working out when you can avoid paying for the metro etc.
- Check whether any of the cities you are travelling to or from require train reservations. This will save you so much time, we ended up 6 hours off schedule when trying to get out of Paris because we didn’t plan ahead! Key places include any big cities in Italy, Berlin and Paris.
Whilst you’re on the road/tracks:
- Be prepared for all weathers. Just because you’re on the continent and ‘Europe is warm’ doesn’t mean you won’t be caught in showers! We had a giant storm cloud following us around the whole trip.
- Spend a bit of time researching hostels. We didn’t, instead opting for cheapness and luck. Sometimes we were lucky. Sometimes we really weren’t. But, whatever you do, use your hostel as an opportunity to make friends. We met some great people, often travelling the same route as us. One such group we met whilst stranded at a train station in the middle of the Czech Republic countryside.
- Be prepared to slum it. Eating-wise, go for the cheap and cheerful and be prepared to picnic anywhere. It’s not healthy, but you can always rely on the parents to fatten you up when you get home! Sleeping-wise, be prepared to spend your time surrounded by others, empty pizza boxes and makeshift washing lines.
Good luck out there! Inter-railing is a brilliant experience and I hope this quick guide helps you create some great memories. Let me know!