Many of us have the craving to travel, especially when there are so many different ways of doing so in today’s globalized society. In this article I would like to make the case that inter-railing is not only thoroughly enjoyable, but also one of the most cost-effective forms of travelling. If you have the opportunity to do it, it should not be missed!
I had recently turned nineteen and had just finished my first year of university. I and two of my best friends were looking for somewhere to go on holiday in the summer. Many people I know had been on holiday the year previously to celebrate the end of school – their destinations being the usual suspects: Malia, Zante, Kavos, Ayia Napa. . . the list goes on!
A typical ‘lads holiday’ sounded like fun to some extent but it didn’t really appeal to us. What turned us against this idea was how unimaginative it was. Everyone else did it, and we wanted to do something a little different. We did not want to do this. We did not want to do what everybody else seemed to be doing. We wanted to look back and actually remember out trip abroad!
So instead we decided on inter-railing. I’m not trying to say it’s a unique way of spending your summer holidays – it’s been popular for a long time. To us though, it felt a little different to most of the people we knew. The results of a lads holiday are entirely predictable, the results of inter-railing are not. We didn’t even know what country we could be in from one day to the next! This trip felt as if it were bold and original, even if it that wasn’t really true.
What makes inter-railing thoroughly enjoyable is the freedom of movement. Our twenty two day pass allowed us virtually unlimited
travel across Europe’s extensive rail network. We were free in where and when we travelled, and how long we stayed in each destination. I still remember sitting in a dorm room in Prague figuring out what country we could be in within the next two days. That’s how much freedom you have.
We found that many inter-railers visited around four to six cities in the twenty two days. However, to us, logic dictated that we had an opportunity, in a limited amount of time, to see a vast array of different places. Therefore, we strived to see as much as physically possible! Starting in Amsterdam (having flown there from Manchester Airport), we travelled as far south as Croatia, and back up through Germany. In total we visited eleven different cities.
Our exact route was as follows: Fly from Manchester to Amsterdam, then hop to Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Zagreb, Split, Hvar, Split again, Ljubljana, Munich, Dusseldorf, then returning to Amsterdam for the flight home. To many, this seemed stupid. I admit it, the physical strain was gruelling at times – although much of that strain may be attributed to alcohol. A particular low point was catching a five hour train to Budapest from Prague, after getting two hours sleep, after getting lost walking around a rough area until five in the morning, after spending the night in Prague’s five storey nightclub. . .
The experience may have been exhausting at times but we will always remember it as truly amazing. If so much of our budget had not been spent on alcohol we would love to do it again! It enables one to take a crash course in experiencing other people and other cultures, and although this benefit cannot be measured literally it is vitally important in respecting other people. Our way of learning about other people’s culture may have been a little different – such as meeting two Swedes in a German beer-house and frequenting the Irish clubs, but it still counts! So if you do go inter-railing make sure you never plan more than two days in advance, so you never know what’s round the corner. . .