By Freya Richold
As do thousands of students across the UK every year in the months following their A levels, I was lucky enough to go interrailing last July. However, not everyone is this lucky, as the main obstacle blocking students from the month of their life in Europe is money. But interrailing does not just have to be money down the drain. There are many simple ways to ensure your trip does not leave you too out of pocket, yet still lives up to the dream it should be.
The biggest expenses, of course, are the transport, and the accommodation. And unfortunately, both of these are necessities. But if you book early, and you’re prepared to spend a few nights in some dingy hostels, (or on the train!), this price can be managed. Whilst trains are expensive, they are still a lot more reasonably priced in Europe than in the UK. As for accommodation, downloading the Hostelworld app allows you to find safe and secure hostels for a reasonable price, well, much cheaper than hotels anyway.
Aside from this, it is surprisingly easy to live cheaply whilst travelling. Possibly the most affecting factor on prices is the place you are staying. So don’t immediately run for the big Western cities; East Europe is much cheaper, and just as cultural and beautiful. As well as this, taking a break from the cities can improve your trip to no end. I would recommend staying at lakes or beaches rather than in cities for up to half of your time out there. And the best part is, the most money we spent at these places each day was for an ice cream!
When it comes to food in general, perhaps try booking hostels with kitchens and have a go at your cooking skills. Bringing Tupperware containers with you allows you to cook a double batch, and keep some for the next day, making cooking even quicker and cheaper. If you are in North Europe, the own brands in the supermarkets is incredibly affordable, and in the South, street vendors and markets can really help to cut the cost of groceries.
It is also handy to note that currently, students in the EU get many museums and monuments for very reasonable prices, so make use of this bargain while it lasts! For example, in Rome and Florence, tickets for places such as the Uffizi gallery and the colosseum can be bought for 2€ each with a valid student ID and European passport. As well as this, churches and cathedrals are generally free, and therefore an excellent way to absorb culture without spending too much.
In fact, some of the most memorable experiences are in fact the free ones. An afternoon walking the river or lying in the park is just as good as seeing an art gallery or a fancy museum. Doing a quick google search on the top free attractions in a city can lead you to some very unique finds. For example, in Amsterdam, we visited the world’s narrowest house, and a cat boat!
However, as long as you stay within your means, the most important part of interrailing is having fun, and treating yourself. Spending a great month abroad is a much more valuable experience than saving up for an expensive coat or a new phone, so make the most of it!