Travelling Europe by train can be much cheaper and easier than you might think by using an Interrail Pass to visit the many participating cities.
Have you planned a trip for next summer yet? Being a student, you might be in a bitter clash: tuition, rent, and the numerous bills that make your mailbox burst won’t just pay themselves. Leaving the continent can become almost impossible considering the rather small budget you have available. Wouldn’t it be great to still be able to see Barcelona, Paris, Seville, Amsterdam, Berlin, and all those other exciting cities, preferably within only a couple of weeks to save money on flights?
That’s exactly the idea behind the Interrail Pass, a train ticket that allows unlimited rail travel in and between almost 30 European countries such as France, Spain, Germany, and the UK. The ticket was created in the early 1970s, when young people in Europe got more and more sick of family trips and package tours, and instead wanted to travel the continent individually.
Back then the program was limited to travellers 21 years and younger and already covered 21 participating countries. Today people of all ages can purchase an Interrail Pass, but it’s still mostly young Europeans who take the opportunity to discover their own continent on a low-cost trip by train. Last year, around 250,000 passes were sold across Europe, the highest number in years, which adds to the eight million tickets sold since the program started in 1972.
Created during the Cold War, the Interrail program soon became some kind of peace movement, trying to fight prejudice and to promote cultural exchange within Europe. It was the perfect opportunity for young Europeans to finally leave the mentality of the war behind and to just have an amazing time getting to know different countries, cultures, and people.
Having a really great time and an unforgettable journey is still what motivates young people today to pack their bags and get ready for four weeks of little sleep, cheap hostels, and food on the road. More than that, they get ready for four weeks of spontaneous travel within all those cities they had ever wanted to see, away with their best friends and far from home.
A typical journey could start in Milan, Italy, and end in Paris, having visited Venice, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Berlin, and Amsterdam all along the way. Really like it in Venice and want to stay a little longer? Already seen Vienna, but Munich seems like a cool place? That’s no problem at all, as the flexibility of the ticket, open borders, and the countless affordable hostels all over Europe make spontaneous trips easy.
Ready to go and plan your own trip? Just know that although the Interrail Pass is available for European residents only, residents of countries outside Europe can purchase the Eurail Pass, which offers them similar possibilities. For example, a Eurail Global Pass for journeys within all the participating countries is offered for around 460 CAD, allowing you to spend five days of travel within one month of your trip, fifteen continuous days of travel are offered for 590 CAD.
Depending on your personal wishes, tickets including many different amounts of travel days are available. The company is even giving you free extra travel days on purchases made up and until the end of September. So if you feel like exploring Europe on a unique trip by train could be something to consider, check out all the possibilities and eventually pack your bags. Your bank account might be thankful!
Pascal Michelberger, Contributor