Looking to plan for future trip - tips please

  • 15 September 2022
  • 10 replies
  • 190 views

Evening all.

I hope you are all well.

 

I would like some advice and tips about using the global pass (specifically 3 month pass) for our travels around Europe.

I have looked at various videos and reviews on YouTube regarding this way of travelling and most positive although, there are some that are negative and they do highlight some important issues.

One guy was saying about reliability and frequency of trains in eastern Europe?  can anyone confirm if this is the case please? Also apparently the train station names do not match with what is on the app so it can be a tad confusing according to the reviewers. 

Can someone who has travelled recently using the Interrail pass please advise on anything you think we should be aware of? We want to try plan in advanced as much as possible and to start our trip early-,mid next year and would appreciate all feedback, tips and advice.

We understand that we have to make reservations in certain countries. Could someone please tell us what countries these are and how much you paid per person please? 

Is there an option to take other trains without reservations? Also according to some bloggers on YouTube Interrail have a contract with one train provider and not multiple therefore, rendering the pass useless in some countries even though on their website it states it covers that said country, is this true? 

I welcome all and any feedback and advice.

Thanks in advanced 

Gary


10 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

I am now too in a promotion priced 3-month period-having used now 1. In Italy right now-tomorrow yet another strike announced-another thing to be aware of. But it is about my 20th pass during the yrs.

IF you also scored that half price-you have to start using it within 11 month after buying-which about rules out next summer (the sale was early may-so start use early april the latest).

About all what you ask could have been found with reading this site/forum-and the 1st timer tips-perhaps that was a better time investment as watching youtube by others who did not really read advice and had to discover it yet again as newbee.

And it all also is relative to what you are used to.

And- planning everything for 3 month advance will be a sure way to let it go wrong.

Userlevel 6
Badge +9

We have just completed the first of 2 Interrail holidays and about to do our second (Using 5 days of a 10 days in 2 months pass.

Like you we had time (thanks to Covid) to do our research and the community was vital in tips and guidance.

At this stage I would advise you to be patient in making any firm decisions - We started with looking at journeys we considered adventures and gave great value for money. We quickly realised that the train costs after the pass were relatively small, once you factored accommodation and food and spending money.

As long as you follow the processes, which seem complicated but are actually quite simple if you have any sort of technical/logical skills.

As you progress much of the system will start to fall into place, but to answer some of your basic questions:

Trains in Central Europe - no personal experience but I would avoid anything beyond Budapest unless you are truly adventurous.

Reservations are varied and usually 10 euro or less for express and long distance trains. (pp per rail trip). Exceptions are Eurostar, Thalys, TGVs and some cross border trains, especially with France. However virtually all regional trains are reservation free. Much more than that on reservations will confuse you at this stage.

We roughly planned our itinerary by looking at distances and train journeys to make an adventure. Then we looked for hotels to match the provisional dates - then again and again till we were happy. Finally itinerary:

Fly to Catania, 2 nights in Siracuse, SIRACUSE to SALERNO (10 hrs train 1 night, 6euro res), SALERNO to BOLOGNA (4 hrs 2 nights 20 euro res),BOLOGNA to NUREMBURG, 8 hrs, 3 nights, 20 euro Brenner tariff), NUREMBURG to BRUSSELS (6 hrs, 1 night, 12 euro res) and finally BRUSSELS to LEEDS (7 hrs, 76 euro res). Res cost first class for 2 passengers.

Next week Fly to Nice - Venice - Vienna - Prague - Fly home.

Next year we have a 3 month continuous pass so plan trips to Scandinavia, Italy to match up with a cruise and one to Germany (Black Forest) and possibly the Alpine valleys.

Keep the questions coming.

Userlevel 6
Badge +9

Re your question on coverage Interrail works with all the main national providers and the planner will advise you if a train is operated by a private provider not in the Interrail network. The key one we came across was Italo, who operate high speed trains in competition with Trenitalia. No problem as Trenitalia operate on all the same lines with their Freccia trains.

Virtually all trains in the UK are included for you to use on your 2 travel days when you are allowed to use UK trains. Start planning low cost flights to start and end your adventures, once you have used those 2 days. It can make for interesting start and end points.

As for station names - don’t worry - you can always add them manually.

When planning make sure you use a range of web sites with route planners, Rail Europe and Trainline are quite good (just don’t buy any tickets). D Bahn and OEBB (German and Austrian operators) are the best of the operators websites and usable at a later date for many reservations.(But Eurostar is the exception - available many months in advance.)

Userlevel 5
Badge +5

An important thing to note is that on the 12th of december there’s a major timetable change all over Europe. So if you start planning today, it might not be possible to see the timetable in some countries for next year, since they’re still working on it. Some countries are quite late in putting the timetable online. Don’t panic, but just wait until it shows up online. Sometimes quite last minute :)

When travelling, make sure you always have the apps of the (national) operators installed, for the latest real time information in case of delays or detours because of construction works. The schedule in the interrail app is always theoretical.

When it comes to planning trips, I always start with this (theoretical) route planner in the link below:

https://hafas.bene-system.com/bin/query.exe/en?protocol=https:&L=profi

This planner also make it very easy to customise your search. You can choose your “core journey”, potentially choosing slower, but more scenic routes if you’lld like that.

You can also avoid high speed trains, reservations (surcharge) trains,… via the options. It cannot be used to book stuff like reservations (We suggest always to use the websites of the national operators) , but it’s a great tool to plan out your trip and give an indication of how much time it’ll take to get from place A to place B.

Once your planning gets more concrete, feel free to ask us. The whole community here will be glad to help!

Userlevel 7
Badge +7

The schedule in the interrail app is always theoretical.

It does have some timetables updated for engineering works, but that depends on how far in advance the operators release those and when the app gets its updates.

When it comes to planning trips, I always start with this (theoretical) route planner in the link below:

https://hafas.bene-system.com/bin/query.exe/en?protocol=https:&L=profi

I had the impression this planner basically uses the MERITS data, updated twice per week? That should then include any updated timetables, if they were provided in time.

Userlevel 5
Badge +5

I had the impression this planner basically uses the MERITS data, updated twice per week? That should then include any updated timetables, if they were provided in time.

 

I don’t know if it uses the MERITS data, not an expert in that. :) The international ticket offices of NMBS/SNCB use this planner for route planning.

That planner is updated constantly. It also has real time info of (some) but not all countries. Western and Central Europe is usually covered. With the exception of the UK though.

Like this random example of today:

 

Userlevel 6
Badge +9

I had the impression this planner basically uses the MERITS data, updated twice per week? That should then include any updated timetables, if they were provided in time.

 

I don’t know if it uses the MERITS data, not an expert in that. :) The international ticket offices of NMBS/SNCB use this planner for route planning.

That planner is updated constantly. It also has real time info of (some) but not all countries. Western and Central Europe is usually covered. With the exception of the UK though.

Like this random example of today:

 

Thankfully we brits have little need of UK plans for Interrailing - we only need links to E* or airports/ports for our 2 days use and we have excellent planners available for domestic use.

 

Userlevel 5
Badge +5

Thankfully we brits have little need of UK plans for Interrailing - we only need links to E* or airports/ports for our 2 days use and we have excellent planners available for domestic use.

 

 

Which planners do you recommend then for the UK - out of curiosity? :)

Badge +4

Travelling beyond Budapest is more difficult but my wife and I have done it quite a few times. It depends on your attitude to planning. If you are prepared to be very flexible then no problem. If you want hotels booked at every overnight stop stay in Western Europe! You’ll need to be prepared for late running but it will be a real adventure. We started our travels long before the internet so we’re used to planning on the hoof. We like it this way but it’s not for everyone .

Userlevel 6
Badge +9

Thankfully we brits have little need of UK plans for Interrailing - we only need links to E* or airports/ports for our 2 days use and we have excellent planners available for domestic use.

 

 

Which planners do you recommend then for the UK - out of curiosity? :)

To be honest most of them use the same engine, but Trainline seems to be the best for searches and info. - includes continental Europe services.

For Northern England/Yorkshire the key operators are LNER (London/York, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh express), Trans Pennine Express (regional) and Northern Railways (Extensive local train network) who all have planners.

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