Traveling in Europe has its many challenges. The biggest and most obvious one being, ironically, the exact reason why you’d want to travel in the first place – coming face to face with cultural differences.
Secondly: logistical travel challenges! It can really be a lot of work to organize travel to many countries in Europe. If you want to do the actual distance crossing with worryless flexibility, traveling by train is for most people the way to go… InterRail provides a pass for unlimited travel within Europe!
The Interrail project was launched in 1972 under the name “InterRail 72”, and was the first attempt at connecting a continent-wide array of railways into a unified network that would meet the unobstructed travel demands of the rapidly growing tourism industry. One could interpret this initiative as a subtle way of bridging the gaps that grew wider between many European countries throughout the conflicts in the first half of the 20th century.
At the very beginning, the pass could be issued to travelers aged 21 and younger, and could be used in a total of 21 participating countries, that were split into zones (passholders could move through all of them only if they chose a full month’s ticket) – somewhat limited conditions, but a good start!
Since then, throughout many iterations, 9 other countries have jumped on board (excuse the pun) with the program, the age limitation has been lifted (fares based on age have been available since 1998, with discounts students and seniors and free tickets for children aged under 11 accompanied by adults) and the zone system has been discontinued. You can now use the InterRail pass to travel freely throughout 30 European countries!
The way it works is pretty simple. If you’re a European citizen, go for InterRail, otherwise get a Eurail ticket. If you want to travel through one country, get the InterRail One Country Pass (valid in 27 countries – Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro excluded, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg included as Benelux). If you want to do your travel in two countries, you should combine two One Country Passes. Three countries plus – go for the InterRail Global pass. When you plan your trip out and figure out how many days it’s going to take, go to the InterRail website and select a package accordingly. You will be joining 170,000+ enthusiastic explorers who embark on their InterRail European adventures each year.
Fun factor – unlike other means of transportation where you mostly sit still from point A to point B, trains allow for mixing and mingling – the logistical setup of the seats alone is enough to dissolve some social barriers, at least more so than when you’re staring at the backs of others’ seats throughout your journey.
Comfort & convenience – if you’ve tried sleeping on a bus before, you know what this is about. If it’s not heading down a highway, odds are you’ll have trouble getting the rest, or work, you need done while traveling. Trains are quiet and stable – like planes! But on the ground! How awesome is that? Night trains with sleeper cabins might as well be referred to as mobile accommodation.
Efficiency – trains usually take the more direct route and move faster than busses. Also, train stations tend to be located in downtown city areas, giving them a logistical advantage over airports, which are usually far out, costing you some extra money and hassle to get to the city.
Low carbon footprint – train travel generates less grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometer than any other means of transportation – fact (provided there’s enough passengers on board, of course; also, electric cars excluded). This alone will not be a determining factor for many in making the decision, but it’s definitely a point of added value when you get to do at least something small to conserve the nature.
In conclusion, train travel is probably the most authentic way of exploring Europe, allowing you to gaze out the window and survey the changes in scenery that follow the shifts in perspectives and values that you get to explore once you on board. The convenience of trains is further enhanced by InterRail – a pass that will get you wherever you want to go whenever you want to get there.
We’ll be sharing a lot more information about the joys of traveling via train through Europe by Interrail