Hello beautiful people!
How is your summer going?
I just came back from a holiday that I’ve dreamed of for YEARS. I’ve been interailing on my own around Europe for the past weeks, and let me tell you, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Before I left I had the concerns of a female solo traveller, but knew that I wanted to go regardless. If not now, when? Yes, there’s risks when you travel solo, but there’s also risks when you leave your house to go and get groceries. Life’s a constant risk. Is that going to stop you from living your best life?
“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” — Henry David Thoreau
Today I’ve put together a 10 step guide with everything you need to know about my Interrail experience as a solo female traveler. If you want to know more about this life-changing experience and how I travelled from place to place completely on my own, keep on reading.
1. WHAT IS INTERRAIL?
Interrail is basically a train pass that allows you to travel on almost all trains in Europe. Prices range depending on how many countries you want to visit and also how long for. Prices can literally range between 150€ for the most basic pass all the way up to 600€!
Here you can find the direct link to their website.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t purchase the ticket. I’ve actually come up with my own version of interailing for a main reason: I’ve travelled around Europe before and I know there’s cheaper ways to get around, so didn’t really need to purchase it. In this post, I will reveal to you how I’ve done so.
I’ve travelled alone before and felt pretty confident at doing so. To me, solo travelling means freedom and independence.
Making the decision to explore the world by yourself will make you brave, confident and good at making decisions. It takes a lot of courage to book a ticket to a different country, completely on your own.
3. MY ROUTE
London (UK) -Bremen (Germany) -Copenhagen (Denmark) – Budapest (Hungary) -Bratislava (Slovakia) – Prague (C. Republic) -London (UK)
If you’re interested in knowing what companies I travelled with, I suggest you jump right into the “transport” section, where I mention how I booked my transport from city to city.
London to Bremen
Flied from Stansted airport to Bremen Airport with Ryanair. The tram ticket from Bremen airport to the city centre costed me around 4€ and it can be purchased from any machine at the station.
Bremen to Copenhagen
I got a coach ticket from Bremen city centre to Copenhagen city centre which took around 6 hours. When you book a coach ticket, the ferry ticket is usually included in the price.
Copenhagen to Budapest
Flied from Copenhagen to Budapest with Ryanair.
The ticket from Copenhagen city centre to the airport costed me around 3.50€/3£ and I used the Metro.
The bus ticket from Budapest airport to the city centre costed me 1000 HC (around 3€/2.50£), and you can find it right outside the airport.
Budapest to Bratislava
Traveled by coach, which only took like 1h 30 minutes. In both cities the coach station is walking distance from the city centre.
Bratislava to Prague
Once again, traveled by coach, which took around 4 hours. I couldn’t be more pleased with the company I chose (RegioJet), literally felt even better than being on a plane!
The coach left me at the heart of Prague, at the main bus station (Praha ÚAN Florence)
Prague to London
4. HOW LONG FOR?
It’s completely up to you. During my own Interrail I met people that were doing it for 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 month or even longer (2 years)! Depends on your budget, your time off and how adventurous you are.
I personally did it for 10 days because I wasn’t able to take more time off due to other holidays I had already booked. If you’re purchasing the interail ticket, keep in mind that the longer you stay the more expensive it gets.
If you’re going to do it for a short period of time like me, make sure your days are as productive as possible.
TOP TIP: Plan your days ahead. To ensure that you make the most out of each city, I suggest you start your visit with a “free walking tour”. They pretty much take place in every European city, and you’ll be able to allocate yourself. It’s also an opportunity for you to meet people and get recommendations from locals regarding places to eat, see, etc .
5. HOW LONG SHALL I SPEND IN EACH CITY?
Again, entirely up to you. On average, I personally stayed around two nights in each city and I think it was more than enough. Think about it as a “little weekend getaway”. It’s also the average time everyone I met would spend.
Obviously the longer you stay in each city, the more chances you will have to explore it in depth.
Now, I’m about to reveal to you the ultimate tool I used to book my transport from city to city. This tool has helped find the BEST deals and I use it whenever I travel.
It’s an app called “Omio“, which basically shows you all the options available: bus, train, plane, etc. You can pic the cheapest and most convenient option. I’ve literally found tickets for £5!
My favourite companies to travel with around Europe are:
-RegioJet: This coach company provides excellent customer service, free hot drinks on board, plugs, headphones to borrow, unlimited wifi and each passenger got their own screen to watch movies on board.
-Flexibus: When booked in advance, you can find bargains! The only downside is that they’re not always on time which can be frustrating.
–Eurolines: Affordable and convenient.
In general, my favourite options are:
–Air B&B: I usually book this if I’m travelling with someone else.
–Hotels.Com: This app helps me find hotels and adjust the engines to my budget, area, facilities I’m looking for, etc. You can collect points and earn rewards.
What I’ve used during this trip:
–Hostelworld.com: Can I just say that I’ve been loving this app? Before, whenever I’ve travelled on my own I WOULD ALWAYS stay in hotels, which is very convenient but it can get a bit lonely!
During my interrail, I was convinced I wanted to live a life changing adventure and connect with people from all over the world. Staying in hostels allowed me to live this experience. I met some amazing people and lived my best life. I was very lucky the hostels I picked where predominantly for young people, so there was party time pretty much everyday. Felt like being back at Uni halls!
MY ADVICE: Before you book any hostel, read the reviews. Make sure it’s a sociable hostel and not a quiet one.
Some facilities you should look for in a hostel include:
-Preferably for young people (read the reviews)
-A fully equipped kitchen
-A common area/living room to socialise
-Free luggage storage room
-Activities: some hostels organise pub crawls, and that’s an amazing way to meet some new people and socialise!
Here are my favourite places where I stayed at during this trip:
–Copenhagen: Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. The reception is literally a bar, so it’s pretty much a constant party. It’s the perfect place to meet other travellers. Central location, walking distance from the famous Nyhavn canals.
–Bratislava: Wild Elephants Hostel. The top floor is a bar, so they organise parties and pub crawls every night. Amazing atmosphere and super friendly staff.
Are you interested in knowing about the other places I stayed at? Let me know!
8. HOW MUCH MONEY SHALL I TAKE WITH ME?
Consider your budget realistically. You’ll end up spending more money than you think you will. Remember shelter and nutrition are your priorities.
Make sure you’re able to cover the following:
-Transport from place to place. Even if you’re buying the Interrail ticket, save some spare money for buses, taxis, etc.
-Accommodation. Even if booked online, most hostels require you to pay upon arrival on their currency. Make sure you keep your accommodation money untouched. Don’t arrive in a city without making sure you have somewhere to sleep.
-Emergency money. In Budapest I missed my coach to the next city, which happened to be the last coach of the day. However, I was so lucky the coach actually turned up 1 hour late, so I was able to make it. Otherwise, I would have had to pay for an extra ticket for the next coach + accommodation for that night, which I was not prepared for.
9. SAFETY TIPS
I’m so happy all the cities I visited were totally safe and nothing crazy happened to me. However, here are some quick tips to help you stay safe whenever you’re travelling on your own:
-Make sure your accommodation is as close to the city centre as possible, preferably walking distance.
-If you’re going to take an overnight journey, I suggest you take the coach instead of the train. The coach is much safer, I personally always feel like I’m protected by the driver! They won’t let anyone dodgy looking/drunk etc get in the coach. I feel like anyone can get on the train, and I’ve had some dodgy experiences happen to me before.
-Wake up early and do stuff during daytime.
-Always take you personal documents and valuable items with you, unless you know for sure they’re going to be 100% locked. NEVER LEAVE THESE UNATTENDED.
-Beware of scammers. They can easily spot tourists.
10. GENERAL ADVICE
–Join Free Walking Tours. It will give you an overview of where everything is and will help you allocate yourself. Not to mention it’s an amazing opportunity to meet other travellers and learn about the city itself.
–Print Your Documents Beforehand. Your coach, train & flight tickets, accommodation address and booking confirmation. It will help you stay organised.
–Supermarkets. If you’re travelling on a budget, try buying from supermarkets instead of local shops which are way more expensive and there’s less options to chose from. Plus if you’re like me and have a different diet (plant based) it will allow you to find more options.
–Souvenirs. A good option is buying souvenirs from street/medieval markets, which are usually found right in the centre of the town. In some cities like Prague or Bratislava I was able to find souvenirs for more than half of the price than local shops were selling!!!
–General culture. I suggest you reading and generally educating yourself briefly about each city beforehand. Did you know that in some cities like Copenhagen using a telephone while cycling can get you a traffic fine?
That’s all for this post!
There’s definitely so much more to share and I could be here forever.
I’ve decided to divide this experience in different posts: what to carry with you, how to meet people, my experience in each city, etc…
What would you like to see next?
Until next time,