It’s never too late to buy your pass and enjoy the freedom of Europe’s railways. Once considered a rite of passage reserved only for teenagers, when discovering as many countries as possible in one month was the ultimate adventure, Interrailing is now a great way to celebrate the thrill of your next chapter.
Exploring Europe by rail has seen a massive resurgence in popularity over the last ten years, especially amongst women over 50 who are looking for some exciting changes and the chance to escape domestic responsibility and routines, or even mend a broken heart. What a fantastic way to take the plunge and travel solo or simply revisit places you’ve been when younger experiencing the excitement of old times with the wisdom of today.
If you are a little worried that spending your days on trains backpacking around Europe would feel like an endless, boring commute, you’ll be surprised to find it’s quite the opposite. InterRail is far more than just a train ticket. Cast back to the ’70s, it turns out to appeal to the wanderlust of travellers of all ages.
Things have changed a lot since you were a student. Today, European train services are modern, comfortable, safer, and often even super-speedy, and with the help of smartphones, GPS and Google Maps at our fingertips, it’s entirely feasible to leave London in the morning, change in either Brussels or Paris and be in Berlin, Zurich, Milan or Barcelona in time for dinner.
Also, budget accommodations are far away from the standard hostels. Today, you can find design-led budget hotels where you can opt for private en suite rooms at a fraction of the price of a boutique hotel, or book an Airbnb property.
What is the InterRail pass?
InterRail is a rail pass that gives access for up to three months across the rail networks of 33 countries in Europe and offers discounted passes for the over 60s, too. One ticket for all countries. Simple and flexible.
If you are a Non-European citizen, you can use a Eurail Pass instead, available from Eurail.com for the same price as an Interrail Pass.
InterRail is available in different versions at different prices (second class for 7 days within a month-long period starts from £264). You can opt for a short trip through the capitals of Europe or for a month-long trip from north to south and east to west to discover more.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to see Europe’s greatest galleries and their masterpieces so you could combine the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Louvre in Paris and the Prado in Madrid, or simply enjoy the most scenic routes. But you can also explore superb scenery, enjoy wine and food tastings and amazing restaurants and budget hotels in just a week via London to Milan, onwards to Marseille then Barcelona and finally Paris.
Just bear in mind that some trains require an extra seat reservation (such as high-speed trains) and you might need to book your sleeping place or seat in advance.
The extra advantages of interrailing
If you believe the journey is as important as the destination, like to travel slowly, watch the landscape pass by, read a book and meet new people, then Interrailing around Europe is the one for you. The sustainability and ease of rail travel, without the queues and security restrictions of flights, are also a big draw.
Travel blogs, forums online like RailDude or Facebook groups like Interrailing for the Older Crowd are amongst the best platforms where you can get inspiration as well as tips and tricks, share journeys, concerns or recommendations for good accommodation etc.
Last but not least, don’t forget there are routes to plan, hostels to choose from, and sometimes also a complicated selection of passes and reservations to navigate. In the end, travelling is all about dealing with the unexpected and enjoying the freedom of being far from home. You’ll be back with plenty of confidence, memories and amazing stories for your personal diary.