Following on from Part One of my Interrailing Advice, here are a few more obvious but hopefully useful tips.
As I learnt, your flatmate probably won’t be that grateful to get those sweets you bought in your 3rd out of 8 cities and then carried in your sweaty, gross rucksack until you got home.
Quite a nice idea we thought of is to get something in every city for yourself- for example, Siobhan ended up getting a different fridge magnet in every city. I had the bright idea of shot glasses, stemming from my brother having given me one from Milan when he went Inter-railing. Shockingly, carrying around breakable items in my pack proved to be a bit of a challenge, but I’m thankful to say they actually made it through the whole trip unscathed!
This next tip is not for everyone, but one I’m genuinely grateful I did. When Sarah suggested we each keep a diary during the trip, we took the piss out of her a bit. It seemed kind of too reminiscent of our 13 year old angsty teenage selves. But it actually has been a really nice souvenir in itself. It keeps our memories fresh, alongside our photos, and has been sweet to look back over.
Organise your stuff well before a sleeper train- there isn’t much room at all (consider shelling out for roomier bunks if you can.) Pack your day bag before you get on with your PJs etc or at least have the essentials at the top of your pack.
The sleeper trains also tend to arrive 20 mins before they’re due to leave. It’s good to get yourself on and settled before it starts to move.
In general the toilet situation on the trains varies greatly. A couple of ours essentially had a hole in the ground. You get over it pretty quickly but it can initially be a shock!
Things to Bring:
Washing powder- some hostels have laundry facilities, but might charge for powder. It’s also useful in case you’re in a pinch and need to wash something in the sink.
I’m putting this in because one of my friends didn’t do it… bring a towel. Yes really, she forgot a towel. Ones like this are perfect- small and light.
This is probably my tendency to mother everyone speaking here, but a mini first aid kit would be a great idea – plasters, Compeed, Ibuprofen, Berocca, small tweezers etc.
If you are a student, bring your card – discounts will apply abroad too!
A photocopy of your form of ID kept separately from the physical copy is a good idea just in case anything gets nicked. Also providing someone at home with key info such as bank details, travel insurance reference numbers etc will be a handy resource if something happens.
We found money belts quite useful as a way to keep your valuables safe. However, consider your outfit carefully. We didn’t exactly think through wearing a nice dress and how exactly we were gonna get to our belts. Cue huddles round a cash machine in Amsterdam whilst someone has to lift their skirt up to get to their belt. Did I mention that we are idiots?
Bring a combo padlock, not key. Sarah had a shitty experience with her key breaking whilst in the lock, trapping her stuff in the hostel under bed storage.
Don’t just bring sandals, think of how much walking you’re gonna be doing. Sensible shoes are needed! Also Compeed or whatever blister plasters you can get are a good shout. On the other hand, the occasional day in sandals can be a relief to let your feet breathe. A combo is best.
Adapters are essential for everyone. At the last minute, I chucked in a plug adapter with three ports which proved to be the absolute best thing when we were waiting in the Burger King in Prague train station and all three needed desperately to charge our electronics out of the one plug.
Do travel as light as you can. You will have a love/hate relationship with your pack. Speaking of those, mine was from Argos and I would really recommend it as was cheap and durable.
If stuff goes wrong with your travel, talk to people around you, as they might be in same situation. Stick together, trust your instincts and just keep calm. Look out for the account I will put up of our Berlin trip to show how we learned this tip!
Wifi will be a godsend. The absolute best thing.
You will not care about your appearance/smell by about day 4. Embrace the smell. I still have Inter-railing flashbacks when I smell Dove deodorant and Batiste dry shampoo.
Hostels always have free maps – grab one asap.
Don’t be too scared about language if you only speak English- it may make you feel awful for your pathetic lack of linguistic skills but English is a widely spoken language and you will most likely be going to tourist stops. If in doubt, just smile. One thing we did was learn ‘thank you’ in each language and you will feel less like an ignorant Brit. It gets you a smile even if you’ve probably butchered it!
Pub Crawls are an easy way to meet people when in small groups and there’s less of that ‘where the fuck are we in a random foreign city’ feeling. It isn’t necessarily cheap though so bear that in mind.
Use-it maps are great. They are created by young people who live in and around the city, so will have personal recommendations and are funny too.
I think I will do some reviews of each city that we visited too, so those will probably appear over the next few weeks! Expect ones for Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Budapest and Venice.