How to plan an interrailing trip in Europe

Daisy Marshallon 12 April 2023
Various travel accessories on top of a map and the words "Ready for adventure"

This one-stop interrailing guide will help you get on those student adventures you always hear about.

A very popular, cheap and easy way for students to see Europe is by train. Follow this guide to help you prepare for your exciting interrailing adventure!


What is an interrail pass?

An interrail pass allows you to hop on and off trains all over the European continent without having to keep buying a ticket. You can buy a variation of interrail passes which all have a different amount of travel days.

The types of interrail tickets include a one-country pass (if planning to only visit a single country) or a global pass (if planning to visit multiple countries).

Your ticket will either be a continuous pass or a flexi pass. A continuous pass means that you can have unlimited travel days throughout your trip depending on how long your pass is. For example, it could range from 15 days continuous, 1 month continuous or 3 months continuous.

A flexi pass means that you buy a pass with a set number of travel days – often the cheapest option. For example, you could have 7 travel days within one month or 15 within 2 months.

A travel day is a 24-hour period in which you can travel on trains in Europe with your pass. This lasts from 00:00 to 23:59 (Central European Time.) So, if you have a seven-day within one-month interrail pass and you travel from Paris to Berlin, you would then have six days left to get on a train and travel. You wouldn’t be able to get this travel day back – once used, it’s used! It’s important to get a pass that matches the number of days you want to use the train.  

Quick tip for if you purchase the flexi pass: use night trains and save travel days! If you don’t change trains overnight then only the station the night train departs from counts towards your pass. This means you only use one day from your travel day allowance - score!

Do you need to reserve seats when interrailing?

To make your interrailing adventure as stress-free as possible, you need to be aware of train reservations. Some trains in Europe require you to book reservations, sometimes for a fee but guaranteeing you a seat. Train schedules are printed a year in advance. We recommend downloading the Rail Planner app to find travel times. The app will tell you what type of train you are travelling on and if reservations are required. 

On high-speed trains and night trains, reservations are recommended if you have to be somewhere at a certain time and want a guaranteed seat. Reservations can be made on the app up to three months in advance but have to be made three hours before the train departs.

You can search for trains that don’t require reservations using the app which can save money. Trains that don’t require reservations are often regional ones instead of high-speed trains which do require reservations. It’s important to note that you most likely need reservations in France, Italy and Spain, especially in the summer as it’ll be busy.


How do you decide when and where to go?

Deciding when to begin your travels is a crucial part of your preparation. Travelling in Europe will be an amazing experience whatever time of year you decide to go in, but different seasons will lead to a slightly different interrailing experience. So, it’s best to take time and think about which season best suits you! 

Travelling in summer obviously has beautiful weather but is also the busiest season. You are more likely to need train reservations in the summer due to the crowds which can add more expenses to the trip. 

Winter is also a popular time to travel, especially over the Christmas period. Unless you have a specific time in mind, we recommend spring or autumn time. It’s the off-peak season when it’s not too busy and also has the perfect weather – not too hot or cold! Although, this can sometimes make packing clothes difficult.

 An Interrail pass is valid in 33 countries. It can be overwhelming to pick which countries you most want to visit, especially because each country has something unique and appealing to offer. You could look at the best routes and itineraries online. Or you could ask friends who have been interrailing before where they recommend and which countries or cities they enjoyed the most. 

Best Summer Holiday Destinations for Students 

It's important to not be too ambitious when planning your itinerary. You want to travel to every country in a month? Well, we STRONGLY recommend against this! You don’t want to feel rushed and spend more time on trains than outside enjoying the new country. Come up with a realistic schedule so you don’t try to cram as many countries into your trip as possible. 

Who should you go interrailing with?


Really think about who you’re going to travel with before you start planning your trip. You are going to be stuck with each other for a long time so it’s crucial that you get along well and can trust each other. You don’t want any mid-interrailing major drama ruining your fun. 

Many students now choose to travel solo. We think this is a fantastic idea. Students give themselves a break from education and a chance to ‘find themselves!’ 

If students do choose to solo travel, it’s important to stay safe. We recommend staying in a social hostel where they can make friends and join groups to explore with. Opt for the hostels which offer free walking tours so you have the chance to meet even more new people. Also, use public transport as much as possible and don’t walk alone at night. Even if you have been in the city for a while and feel comfortable, always be cautious and prioritise your safety.


Where should you stay?

We recommend staying in hostels throughout your trip as they are a great place to meet fellow travellers and make new friends. A good website to use is or Hostelworld. Airbnb can also be great value. Bear in mind that in the busy summer season, you may need to book accommodation a few days in advance due to the chance of it being sold out. We advise booking accommodation close to the town/city centre so you are right in the heart of the city culture and things to experience. If you’re staying in a location for one night, we recommend booking accommodation near the train station for convenience.

General tips

We’ve gathered some general tips that may be useful to note when planning your journey:

  • Carry a portable charger with you at all times. 
  • Don’t eat out too much as this will rinse your bank account quickly. Many hostels offer kitchens where you can buy cheap food from the supermarket and cook it yourself. 
  • Sleep on the train such as on night trains. This will not only save money on accommodation but it will also save time travelling in daylight hours when you could be exploring. 
  • Countries like the Czech Republic and Eastern Europe are much cheaper than Italy and Germany.
  • Pack light! Trust us that if your bag is not extremely heavy, your life will be a lot easier! 
  • Your Interrail pass means you may be able to access benefit discounts for ferries, public transport and accommodation

Do you have plans to travel any time soon? Join the Student Hut Community for paid surveys that’ll earn you a £25 Amazon voucher. Great for travel essentials.

Daisy Marshallon 12 April 2023