Let’s be real, going away on holiday for weeks on end is never going to be overly cheap but how much does it actually cost to go interrailing? It’s something that I had wanted to do for years so last Summer I decided to properly save for it by setting aside my wages from work and some of my student loan every month. With the fear of getting your hopes up I will say that it was cheaper than I thought it was going to be. I don’t now if this is due to the cities that we visited or if my student status saved me a considerable amount in entry fees but I did have more cash left over towards the end of my trip than I was expecting.
I wanted to write this blog post as a way to open your eyes about how much interrailing costs because it seems like a daunting amount at first. There will most likely be a separate blog post on tips that I have for saving money throughout your trip but for now I’ll stick with facts to help you plan your own holiday.
Choosing an Interrail Pass
For a Youth (ages 12-25) interrail passes start at £153 for three travel days within one month, travelling second class. This price will then increase depending on the number of days you wish to travel. For 15 days of travel within two months, the initial cost is £345 which seems pretty good to me considering it has five times as many travel days. Obviously it will also be more expensive if you choose first class but as second class on European trains was still pretty swanky, I’m not convinced you need an upgrade.
What these initial costs don’t cover are shipping fees or insurance. As interrail packages must be signed for when being delivered the shipping cost was £11 for me in Scotland but I cannot comment on whether it will be more expensive in other parts of Europe. We also opted for, “Protection Pass,” which was an extra £14 to cover train tickets in case our passes were lost or stolen when we were away. This is of course not necessary when purchasing your pass but it is another cost to be aware of if you would like some extra security when it comes to travelling.
We had a rough budget of £20 per night when it came to accommodation and stayed in a mixture of Airbnbs and hostels. In Budapest and Prague, the cheapest cities we visited, we were able to get Airbnbs for about £70 per night and then split between the six of us. It was great because we had more space and weren’t all crowded in the same room. The hostels we stayed in were good too but did mean that on occasion we were sharing with strangers as well as each other.
Like with interrail passes, there are a few extra costs when it comes to booking accommodation. There is often city tax, or cleaning fees that aren’t included in the original price so bare that in mind when booking your own. I found that the later we left it to book our accommodation, the more expensive it became. It also means that there is less choice so it’s likely you’ll be further away from the city centre and therefore increasing your transport costs.
Flights aren’t strictly necessary for an interrail trip as you can use your pass for an in and outbound trip of your residence country. I wouldn’t have minded doing that instead of flying but as I live in Scotland, it doesn’t exactly provide quick and easy access to the rest of Europe, especially as our trip started in Hungary. In total we probably paid about £200 for flights because Ryanair decided to increase the price halfway through our booking.
A long trip away means a big bag is going to be required. As flight companies are stingey with what bags you can and cannot bring on the plane there’s a high chance you’ll need to pay extra for baggage. This is likely to be cheaper if you add on your baggage when initially booking your flights. Our extra bags with Ryanair cost us £40 each because we added them on at a later date instead of the £25 it could have been.
Interrail Passes mean you can travel on trains around 31 different countries. There are of course far more than 31 cities to explore because why just stick to the capitals? Hamburg, Lyon and Barcelona could also be on your list or maybe the coastal towns of the Cinque Terre in Italy? There are so many possibilities with an interrail pass but of course, some locations are going to be much cheaper than others.
On our trip, Prague and Budapest were the cheapest and Amsterdam and Hamburg perhaps being on the pricier side when it came to spending money. Overall there was a pretty good average for our trip meaning that we managed to keep our general price per day fairly low. If cost is your main concern a little research will go a long way to finding a route that is best for you and your budget.
Average Spend per Day
Now I can’t say for certain what my average spend was per day was because I don’t know exactly how much I spent. Taking out the extra expenses like buying new clothes, I probably spent about £30 a day on food, entrance fees to attractions and inner city transport. As I thought I would be spending more on my trip, it meant that I had over budgeted a bit, explaining the leftover that I had at the end. As I am a student I often got reduced entry into attractions so it’s worth doing some research into any museums or exhibitions before you visit in case you too can get some money off.
Some Extra but Perhaps Necessary Costs
Once the main expenses of interrail pass, flights and accommodation are taken care of there are still a few things that I would recommend purchasing. The first being insurance for your trip. I’m a rather paranoid person and therefore could imagine every possible thing going wrong so I wanted to make sure I was covered, just in case the absolute worst happened. I literally know nothing about insurance so I was online doing research one afternoon to try and figure out what would be best for me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was only about £20 to be covered for the trip as I expected it to be at least double that.
On busy trains you may wish to have seat reservations. These are not included as part of your interrail ticket so it’s truly about personal preference. We were mainly fine without them, especially on the first half of our trip but on the train between Berlin and Hamburg, we regretted not reserving seats in advance. As this train stopped at many German towns along the way there were commuters meaning that the train got rather busy.
Before you leave it’s also worth investing a travel towel. It will save lots of space in your bag compared to a regular one and will also mean that you don’t have to constantly rent towels at hostels along the way, saving money in the long run. This is the same for a padlock to keep your personal belongings secure without always paying money to rent a padlock every time you move to a new destination. You can get both fairly cheap in the UK. Keep an eye out for any promotions shops may be running because got my towel for half price with the purchase of my rucksack.
I’m fully aware I’ve just bombarded you with a lot of information and seeing all the expenses listed like that probably makes it seem rather intimidating. It can be scary at first because you end up spending hundreds of pounds in one go when booking your trip. There are many ways to save money whilst interrailing which I’ll go into more detail in another post. I know it’s quite a lot of money for a single trip but it is honestly one of the best experiences of my life and I cannot recommend it enough.