The first two parts of this blog series should have given you a brief introduction to the concept of interrailing and advice with regards to planning your travel route while deciding which Interrail pass suits you best.
This part of the guide will describe my experiences when booking accommodation, deciding how to budget and also telling you how easy it is to save money by doing simple tricks along the way.
It is a well-known fact that the most popular type of accommodation for young interrailling travellers is hostels. Most hostels are very reasonably priced and they are typically located very near to a city centre.
It is great to stay in hostels if you are travelling in a small or big group. You can meet other people like fellow travellers who are exploring Europe on their own journeys. Meeting new people who are travelling allows you to share tips and experiences which can be especially helpful if you have just arrived in a city and people in your dorm or hostel have great advice for your time there.
Your interrailing route can be changed at any time but I do recommend booking some hostels in advance, especially the hostel in the first city of your journey. Some cities such as Amsterdam in the summer can have a shortage of hostel beds. The last thing you want is to have no bed to stay in or be forced to fork out extra money from your budget for a hotel because you failed to plan your accommodation in advance.
Most hostels are flexible with bookings, especially if you book them through Hostelworld. We changed our route during the trip and cancelling the reservation in one of the hostels we had chosen was no issue providing we gave 24 hours notice.
In recent years alternative accommodation options for young travellers have come widely available. The options include Couchsurfing and Airbnb. I have no experience with Couchsurfing but I have heard positive things about it and you can check it out yourself here if you wish.
I have used Airbnb on a few occasions and I can say that this service certainly has become an option when travelling for my trips. If you are travelling as a couple, the private rooms in hostels can be expensive and so Airbnb is often a cheaper and better option for your wallet.
Some properties on Airbnb are located centrally in cities. For example a studio apartment can be rented for approximately €65 a night in Vienna and Amsterdam.
There are a few options available to you when booking accommodation for your trip, hostels are very cheap if you are staying in dorms but can be expensive if you are seeking private rooms. So I advise that you weigh up what you are looking for and decide which service is best for you.
In total, my interrailing trip cost roughly €1500-1800 in total which included flights, the Interrail pass, food, accommodation, activities etc.
My budget after booking accommodation, flights and the Interrail pass was €30 a day which I used for food, public transport and activities. Below I am going to break down the main costs for you and explain how I managed to save money in some aspects of my trip.
Food can be as inexpensive or expensive as you want it to be while travelling. The first meal of the day (breakfast) is very important if you are planning to be out for the day.
Your first option could be to buy a yoghurt, bread and milk etc in a local newsagent every morning but this can actually work out to be expensive and I will explain why now. You may spend €3 or €4 in a newsagent every morning for a few items when many hostels have a breakfast option already available.
Some hostels go as far as including a free breakfast into the cost of staying in a dorm which is a fantastic way to save money, if you have to pay for breakfast it typically isn’t more than €3. Many hostels have an all you can eat buffet for their breakfasts and you certainly get your value for money so I advise researching if hostels in your destination cities include breakfast in their room fees.
In some cities we prepared our lunch using some bread, ham and cheese provided during the breakfast in the hostels in order to save even more money.
If you are in a hostel, most have a kitchen and you are free to use the facilities as you wish. Each day gives you a choice to eat out or to make your own food in the hostel. Making your own food is cheap and cost effective but I recommend eating out for one meal a day or even one meal every second day in a city so that you get a chance to experience the local cuisine. Food is certainly one effective way of managing your money easily.
Hostels and Airbnb are the two primary choices for accommodation but a very useful way to save money is to get night trains to different cities on your journey. Getting a night train will save you one night’s accommodation fee and you will also arrive at a new destination in the morning.
If you wish to book a bed for the night train then this can also be arranged at the train stations for those of you that do not want to sleep on the train seats.
Of course the budget was only a guideline for myself. Many days I went under budget and many days I went over. Paying for an activity such as visiting the ice bar in Prague or Canyoning in Lake Bled can make the budget go over slightly but I was prepared for that. My budget allowed plenty of freedom and I do not regret any of the activities that I did. I believe that €30 is plenty for a daily budget and you can do many things with that amount of money.
In the next blog entry for this series I will discuss what to pack and the essential items I recommend to bring for the trip across Europe. If you missed the last two blog posts in this series you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.
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