Interrail vs. Self-Planning

Recently, I read a piece from a travel blog I like a lot, On the Luce, on the popular Interrailing. I have never used an Interrail pass personally, but I’d like to speculate on the pros and cons based on Miss Lucy’s post.

To summarize, Interrail is an extremely flexible service that lets young people travel within a country or between several countries by rail, getting on and off when they please over a fixed time period, for a fixed price. Eurail is the sister service for non-European citizens or residents. 

I have traveled through quite a bit of both Germany and Italy by train, both for ten days each, which more than the maximum time allotted for the Interrail passes. For simplicity sake, I will only use my traditionally booked Italy route to compare to the Interrail and Eurail passes.

Here was my route (taken in mid-March 2016) and current, average prices on the Italian train service, TrenItalia, for the last week of July (for last-minute planners) and the second week of August respectively:

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What’s In My Bag: Carry-On Edition

As I get ready for my visit to the United Kingdom, I’d like to share what I have in my carry-on backpack to make the long-haul flights a breeze. As a simple rule of thumb, I try to only check clothes and toiletries: things that are easily replaced. Additionally, for these long flights, I recommend covering every square inch of your skin or bringing layers that will allow you to do so later (nothing is worse than having the air conditioning blast your ankles for eight hours because your pants just weren’t quite long enough). This includes long socks, long pants, a comfortable sweatshirt and a blanket (although long flights usually supply this, they’re usually thin and scratchy). This is by no means an exhaustive list of what to pack, this is personally what I like to have with me.

I usually bring two bags: a backpack and a purse. Things I will used often and would like easy access to go in the purse while everything else goes into the backpack.

Passport, boarding pass: I will usually carry these until I’m seated.

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A to Z Travel Tips

Here are a few quick bits on how to travel smart, light and safe (omitting Q, X and Z for obvious reasons):

Ask for suggestions on where to eat and what to see from your hotel or hostel.

Budget carefully.

Carry on luggage as often as possible to avoid baggage fees.

Don’t be afraid to go it alone.

Eat local dishes.

Forgo excessive drinking.

Get up early and hit the pavement.

Hostels are a great way to meet people and find the best local spots.

Invest in good luggage.

Judge a book by its cover (meaning, if someone or something looks shady, it probably is).

Keep your things close to you (especially on public transit), pickpockets are tricky.

Learn how to read a paper map.

Make time to sleep (go to bed early).

Never give out too much personal information to a stranger (such as what hostel you’re staying at).

Open your mind to new experiences.

Prioritize what you want to do before you leave.

Respect the local culture and customs.

Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.

Take pictures of everything (please get permission before taking pictures of people).

Update someone (perhaps your parents) daily to let them know you’re safe.

Walking tours are a blast (be sure to tip if they’re “free”).

You are more resourceful than you think. You can do it!

Note: this is a queued post.

A Good Travel Buddy…

I have traveled with about half a dozen other people, so I’ve come to realize there are things that make a good travel buddy and… not so much.

A good travel buddy…

  • Compromises. If you want to do different things, they will find a way to make sure you both get what you want.
  • Is assertive. “Where do you want to eat?” “I don’t know, where do you want to eat?”-esque conversations drives me nuts. Give me some sort idea of what you want (or don’t want) and we can work from there. Or else, we’re eating at the first place I see that has pictures on the menu (a true sign of affordability).
  • Doesn’t try to fill silences all the time. When you’re traveling with someone, you’re with them every waking (and sleeping) moment. Not all of those have to be filled with words (in fact, I’d prefer it if they weren’t).
  • Is punctual. Nothing is worse than sprinting across the airport to catch a flight because your travel buddy thought there was “plenty of time.”
  • Is someone you can trust. You will be venturing into the great unknown with this person, make sure they have your back.
  • Is on a similar budget. If you’re not on a similar budget, you’ll end up eating pizza from a kebab shop while your buddy has a lush sit down meal.
  • Is resourceful and practical. If you get in a sticky situation, you want to be with someone that can hold their own to get out of it so all the weight doesn’t fall on you.
  • Is enthusiastic and energetic. Don’t get me wrong, I need my siestas, but a good travel buddy will be excited as I am to hit the pavement and make the most of our time traveling!

Top 250 Global Attractions

I stumbled across this fun list challenge and it really put into perspective how lucky I am to have been to so many places and seen so many things!

I have been to 77/250 of these attractions, which is in the top 16% of users! My personal favorites include:

Top places I would like to go to but haven’t (yet!) include:

  • Petra, Jordan
  • Machu Picchu, Peru
  • Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
  • Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
  • Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  • Blue Lagoon, Iceland
  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Halong Bay, Vietnam

Been There…

As I’m getting itchy feet again, I thought I would take this moment to reflect and be thankful of all the places I’ve been rather than dwelling on the places I haven’t:

Note: destinations without a link indicate that I have not posted about it, have been there often or have lived there and have talked about it a lot in passing.

North America

Europe

Stay tuned for the “… Done That” version, which is like a reverse bucket list!

Post Travel Blues

Although my days of frequent traveling are over (for now), it’s always on my mind. At least for me, personally, a few things about my lifestyle have changed since I’ve been abroad (aside from all the personal experience I’ve gained from it, of course).

Although I hate to be that person, I am aware it’s pretty much all I talk about. But let’s face it, living and traveling abroad has been my whole life for the past year, I can relate almost anything to it.

I spend more money on travel-related things. If I’m not booking another trip, I’m probably buying another vintage map, mini globe, travel accessory or suitcase I don’t need.

I now read almost exclusively travel books. That is, when I actually have down time. I’ve just finished one on long-term trip planning and destinations that Dan’s mom bought me before I headed home. I hope to next read a book on volunteering abroad.

I’m now constantly saving for and dreaming of my next adventure. Although it won’t be for a while (especially now I’m trying to save up to move to the United Kingdom), it’s quite exciting to think about all the places I want to go. There is nothing more I want to do than travel the world, even if it means missing out on a phone upgrade or nights out.

I can now recognize many geographic locations simply from pictures thanks to my European travels and travel books.

Not to mention, it’s also pretty cool to see European landmarks in movies and be able to say, “Hey, I’ve been there!”

My time abroad was incredible and although it sometimes makes me anxious that there’s a whole world out there that’s hard to see while I finish up my degree, I constantly remind myself that I have the rest of my life to travel.