You could describe Interrailing as a rite of passage. After all, that first Interrailing trip marks a big change. Just a few weeks on the road and here you are – a seasoned backpacker with a plethora of travel stories, tips and advice.
Maybe you’ll go on to see more of Europe, an Interrailing trip becoming your annual holiday, even when you’re married with kids (hey, that’s what baby slings were made for right?). Maybe it will be a stepping stone to something bigger – that once pristine backpack will become a battered travel buddy as you hike the Himalayas or trek your way to Machu Picchu. Maybe Interrailing will be that once on a lifetime adventure that you will regale friends and family with for years to come, holding a special place in your heart. Hey, you might even take the plunge and move to that city you fell in love with on your trip.
Who knows? Europe is your oyster!
However, as we’ve found out during numerous chats over the biscuit tin – there are few experiences that appear to be common to Interrailing, no matter whether it’s your first or fifth trip. Here’s some things we learned Interrailing:
- When you’re really, really hungry and you’re starting to think about which friend you could eat first if push comes to shove – nothing will taste better than crusty French bread with cheese (or, if you’re really lucky, tuna mayo). Thank you to that friend who insisted you bring supplies on the train. You definitely would have eaten them last. Definitely.
- When you’re walking from the train station, it starts to rain and you realise your mac is right at the bottom of your rucksack…
- It’s been a long journey but you have finally arrived at your destination, tired and dusty. Remember, it is always better to shower then sleep, rather than wait to shower when you wake up, only to discover the communal showers have been over-run with other travellers (which leads us on to point 4).
- A lot of people from Europe have absolutely no problem frolicking naked in communal showers – in fact they may think you a tad odd for showering in swimwear.
- Hangovers and trains are rough. Fact.
- Not every woman in Europe shaves their legs, armpits. It’s a fact. Get over it.
- Some of your travelling friends will not want to get up at the crack of dawn to see the cityscape sunrise. Let them sleep.
- Some of your travelling friends will want to get up at the crack of dawn and hike a small mountain to see the cityscape sunrise. Let them go. The crazy fools.
- Expect to see the interiors of many, many religious buildings. Because they are free. Now shut up, and appreciate the beautiful mosaic work.
- Sometimes travel journals just become logs of your hunger, and the delicious pizza you have finally gotten your mitts on. Who cares about how glorious the Colosseum us in the noon sunlight anyway?
- You really should have bought that skip the line ticket before you left home, instead of hoping the queue would be so small at 9am you wouldn’t need it.
- You really can survive for four weeks with less clothes than you can fit in a handbag.
- Sometimes pasta and ketchup is a delicious and nutritious meal that costs buttons.
- You might be a vodka and coke only person back home but Czech beer really is amazing.
- Hostel events are The Best Craic. And you can literally just roll into bed!
- Shared dorms are surprisingly good places to make friends, get travel advice and have a laugh.
- You will never again in your life walk so much. Ever.
- You’re on a sleeper train and just nodded off – this creates a small alarm somewhere prompting a uniformed person (what are they anyone, a border warden?) to arrive at your cabin and demand to see your passport. “Passaporto!!!” Oh, and if they also add “Heroin-o?” or “Cocaine-o?” then take it as read, they aren’t selling.
- The skies will open, light will shine down and you will realise you do not actually like all of your travelling buddies. It’s ok. You never ever have to see them again when you get home. Ever. That thought will get you through that sixth retelling of the time they met Paul Daniels…
- Your backpack actually is quite a handy little seat (except that time when you burst that bottle of shower gel…)
What do you think? Ring any bells? Let us know if there’s anything you would add to the list.