Welcome back to my Interrail Blog Series and more importantly, to Part 3! If you’ve not visited this series before, feel free to take a look at my introduction to have an overview of the series and the topics that I’ll be covering across it.
This part will cover information on flights, seat reservations and night trains, which you probably (hopefully) guessed from the title of the post. More specifically, I’ll cover the best places to book these from, the costs and types of seat reservations and the benefits of night trains.
If you’ve read my previous posts then hopefully at this point you will have chosen your route, location, trip length and the ticket that is best for you. The next thing we did was to look at flights, to fly to our first location (London > Paris) and to fly back home from our final location (Venice > London). This is entirely optional as with your Interrail ticket you do get one outbound and one inbound journey in your own country, however, this will use up your travel days so think wisely! We didn’t want to use any travel days within our own country as we need to use the full 10 to travel between countries whilst on our trip, as well as the fact that after 4 weeks of travelling by train we didn’t really want another 14 hour journey just to be disappointed when we arrive back home. We used Sky Scanner to search for the best flights/prices, they gather information from all airlines so instead of having to shop around, it’s all in one place which makes it a hell of a lot easier. For a trip of this kind I’d probably just go for the cheapest flight available that works with your schedule – you’re going travelling round Europe by train, not to a luxury 5* resort in the Bahama’s, so the fanciest of flights isn’t really needed.
Now, onto seat reservations, this part is slightly more complex than the flights however I’ll do my best to explain it as simply as possible. You may think that your Interrail pass covers you for all travel and nothing else needs to be paid for, well – think again. Some trains that you take may require a mandatory seat reservation (high speed trains, night trains), some will be optional (regional/domestic trains) and some won’t need a reservation at all (happy days).
If it is mandatory, this means you cannot board the train without having a seat reserved. You do get some benefits by booking a seat reservation such as (and most obviously) a comfortable seat for the journey, free WiFi, individual power sockets or high speed travel. If it is optional, it means that reservations are available but it’s up to you if you would like to book one but if you don’t book one and the train is full, prepare for the possibility of long journey sat on a dirty train floor and a very numb bum!
As you can see in the table, the costs of reservations do vary between the type of train, the class and the country you’re travelling in. Some reservations can be pretty pricey, some can be relatively cheap, but with your Interrail pass you do get a discount on reservation price which makes spending the extra money slightly less painful.
To book seat reservations you can either use the Rail Planner app which is nice and simple (I’d recommend this), the Interrail reservations website or at the train station’s ticket window. You could use the app/website to book your reservations in advance of your trip to give you the peace of mind that it you’re all ready to go, or if you’re just winging it, when you arrive at a destination you can visit the ticket window to book your reservations ready for when you leave to go to the next location. I’m not going to include a step-by-step guide to booking reservations in this post as there are so many different ways you can book so it would end up as more of a novel than a blog post, but if you do need some more help drop me a message and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.
Night trains are a useful way to travel, you can reserve a bed so you can sleep throughout the duration of the journey (this works well for particularly long journeys) and it also means that you can save on a night’s accommodation, however, I have noticed that reservations for night trains can sometimes be equally as expensive if not more so than a night in a cheap hostel/Air B’n’B, so make sure you do your research. The golden rule of night trains is that if you depart from your location after 7pm and arrive at your next location before 4am, this only counts as 1 travel day rather than 2 so if night trains are something you’re considering, make sure you bare this rule in mind! You don’t want to get caught out, end up using 2 travel days and throw your whole trip out of whack.
That’s about it for this post, I hope you’re enjoying this series so far! Keep an eye out for more chapters, especially the exciting stuff about our actual trip.
See you on the flip side,
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