1) Have a Vague Plan and Try to Book as Much in Advance as Possible
A huge bonus of an interrailling ticket is the freedom it allows, however booking in advance as much as you can will make it far cheaper and easier to budget. With the cheapest interail ticket we had carefully planned out our journey in advanced so where able to book all flights and accommodation beforehand. I found this incredibly useful as it meant we could stay in amazing hostels in great locations for a very good price. We also avoided all the stress of trying to find somewhere to stay last minute.
I would at the very least recommend booking the most expensive things like flights before hand. When booking somewhere to stay I tend to use booking.com as most places have free cancellation fees, which is great if your wanting to change up your plans but still know your going to have a bed at the end of the night. Before booking anywhere I tend to double check the reviews on trip advisor and hostel booker to help narrow down the best place. It also worth taking into account things like festivals and celebrations that could mean hostels are more expensive during this time and quickly booked up. Generally having an idea of a route will make it cheaper in the long run.
Before you go do the math! Know how much your wanting you trip to cost you in total, do some research about how much the average living cost in each place are going, how much the average meal costs ect. Then try your best to stick to it. I know there are various methods of planning out a budget from spreadsheets to pen and paper choose whatever you prefer. Its always worth keeping a bit of emergency cash somewhere as well just incase it all goes terribly wrong.
3) Go on Free Walking Tours
I can’t stress this one enough, I try to do this on the first day of every knew place I arrive in. It’s a great way of not only learning the history and seeing some of the top sights but also getting to know your way around to stop you getting lost in the future. They are also great for getting ideas of where to go and what to see leading on to my next point.
4) Ask the Locals
The best and most authentic way to get to know a new place is to ask the locals. So ask around at hostels, restaurants and tours, people tend to be proud of where they live and want to show off the best bits. You can end up going a bit further off the usually beaten tourist track to find some real gems.
5) Try the Local Food
This ties in to the the one above but I try at least one delicacy from every place I visit even if it sounds weird and disgusting, its usual a traditional dish for a reason. Plus I’m such a foodie and it’s all part of the experience.
6) Share Groceries / Toiletries
Sharing is caring after all. If you are travelling with people it can be a huge budget saver to try and share out as much of the costs as possible. Especially with things like shampoo and conditioner than tend to come in bigger bottles that are heavier and you know you wont use it all. Sharing food can be a huge bonus as it allows you to make larger portions to share between you for a lower cost and sometimes left over for lunch the next day! Also most hostels have a place for communal food so don’t waste food by throwing it away when you are leaving, put it in the communal pile and help someone else out.
7) Always Carry Emergency Snacks
This might see like a random unnecessary addition but don’t make my mistakes. There is nothing worse than travelling on long train journeys trapped for hours and starving. Or even worse if you get stranded in the middle of nowhere being hangry doesn’t anyone.
8) Take a Pack of Cards
9) Go with People who have Similar Interests to Yourself
Travelling involves lots of compromise, from the little things to who gets to shower first to the bigger ones of what cities you want to visit. You need to go with people who you know you can get along with and who have a genuine interest in the same things you do. It can be one thing spending time with a friend or group of friends and whole other thing living and compromising with them 24/7. This is why you need to be clear on your intentions from the start and even the best of friends might not be the best of travel companions. Go in with an open mind and a willingness to compromise and you should be fine. I had an amazing time because we had all lived together already, we came up with a shower router and we knew we wanted to fit in as many culture things as possible and only have one night out in each city to achieve this. Whatever you want to get out of your trip just make sure your on the same page and don’t be afraid to go your separate ways and meet up at the end of the day. Sometimes its nice to swap stories of your solo adventures and catch up over diner.
10) Try Something New / Out of Comfort Zone
Isn’t the whole point of travelling to embrace new experience and learn about different cultures and broaden your horizons. So push yourself out of your comfort zone try something new and don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself!
Overpacking is something we are all guilty of, but try your best to avoid it. Especially if you are taking a backpack you will seriously regret it and the its just not worth the backache (literally). Make sure to try on all your clothes beforehand and avoid taking those just in case items. The same with food while its a good plan to take a little bit you really don’t need much! Just think economically and always leave room for holiday presents.
If your plan is to party and drink your way around Europe, fair enough each to there own. But don’t spend all of your time in places doing this that you could do anywhere in the world, the worst being in bed hungover. Don’t regret not seeing more of a place you may never go back to or miss out on trying new things. Even if this takes the form of a unique themed bar, make it an experience you couldn’t have anywhere else.
Take it from me it’s always worth having a little currency from every place you are visiting beforehand, incase something goes wrong. I don’t know what we would have done without it when we were stranded on the Austro-Hungarian border. However its always worth doing research as while its good to have a little bit of cash, for the rest of your money sometimes its a better exchange rate to change your money in the country. It’s a budget saver to do some research on and keep in mind.
5) Spend all your money on pointless things
Once again this is something we are all guilty of and while its fine to have nice meals and buy a few presents for the family. There are definitely things that just aren’t worth spending your money on. This links in to my budgeting tip, just remember to spend it on things that you couldn’t do or buy anywhere else.
6) Don’t get stressed out by the little things
Things will go wrong its inevitable, you might miss a train, loose something important or end up in the wrong rooms in a hostel. It’s all about staying calm letting the little things slide and finding a solution to the problem.
7) Don’t Just Get on any Train
This might seem tempting and spontaneous but your interrailing ticket doesn’t actually cover you for all train journey’s. Many trips require a seat reservation to board, getting on one without means you could find yourself with a nasty and unexpected fine. So do your research before you hop on!
8) See it all Through your Phone
As easy as it is to be glued to your phone try to switch off from the screen for a while and live in the moment. It’s a tricky balance to achieve between taking photos and being present but when you look back you will thank yourself that you didn’t spend the entire time uploading to snapchat/ Instagram.
9) Give yourself a break
Travelling can often feel like go, go, go and sometimes all you need is a quite early night to gather up your energy and start the next day feeling refreshed. So don’t feel guilty about taking some time out for a little TLC. Alongside this don’t forget to drink water, it’s such a simple thing but its very easy to loose track and just forget. Hydration makes everything better and keeps you feeling healthy and refreshed.
10) Don’t Feel Like you have to Stick to your Plan
Allow your plans to change, let yourself have that flexibility to go with the flow. The best adventures tend to be the most spontaneous ones and you can end up in places you never imagined. Stay safe and have fun!