One of the most popular things that young European backpackers can do is go on an interrailing trip. My first proper backpacking trip was a two week interrail trip around Europe thanks to the DiscoverEU programme. This is a programme which allows anyone aged 18 from an EU country, and still for 2022 the UK as well, to apply for a free interrail pass so that they can experience some of what the continent of Europe has to offer. So, if you are lucky enough like me to be given a free interrail pass, then it certainly makes sense to use it. However, a lot of the time there are a number of pros and cons that need to be considered before you commit to buying the pass.
Firstly, how often are you actually going to be travelling. There are a number of different interrail passes that all let you travel different amounts and vary in cost massively. If you have planned your whole trip out and know which days you will be travelling on, then it is certainly worth looking at an interrail pass as you can get ones that are much cheaper if you are only planning on travelling on 5 days within a month, in comparison to the whole month pass. So, if you know how many days you will be travelling for certain, then find the pass that lines up with that in order to make it best value for money.
For those people that don’t know how many days they will be travelling as they haven’t planned their whole trip, it is still worth having an estimation of how frequently you will be moving. If you think you will be moving most days, then buying an interrail pass might be the best value for you. However, if you are more likely to be taking it a bit slower on your trip, then it might be cheaper to buy individual train tickets or take FlixBuses around Europe.
Another factor that you should consider is the distances that you are planning on travelling. The interrail pass has no limit on the distance for individual journeys, only that they should be completed within one day (any travel begun before midnight will be counted as a single travel day on the pass). Therefore, if you plan on taking huge journeys across Europe, such as I did from Amsterdam to Prague, then the pass might make it more cost effective. On the other hand, if you are planning on staying in the same region of Europe, then buses or individual train tickets might make more sense.
Whatever you eventually decide, just know that an interrail pass is not the only way to travel around Europe. For a lot of people, the pass is probably the right choice as long as you make sure that you get the one with the right number of travel days so that you don’t overspend. However, too many people just rush in and buy a pass without looking at the other options such as travelling by FlixBus, which is definitely the cheapest way to make individual trips around Europe, so should not be overlooked.