Europe 2012.

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Almost two and a half years ago, on March 11th 2012, I set off on the on probably the most scary and exciting adventure I have ever undertaken, I was about to spend two moths InterRailing Europe, 5 week s alone, 4 weeks with my wonderful friend Hannah.

You know what, its the best thing I have ever done.

I if was given a pound for every time I was asked / am asked ‘You’re going/went alone?!?!?’ I’d be rich. But yes, at the age of 18, I set off alone, I don’t regret it one bit. Yeah I was so scared I had a little cry when I said goodbye to my family (they all insisted on coming to the airport!) at security at Gatwick airport, but as soon as my flight left the runway, that was it, excitement set in.

There is no way I can describe my adventure in one blog post so I’m going to try split it into each city I visited. I’ll do my best to make recommendations and reviews along the way.

First I’ll start with the InterRail ticket. which can be bought at;
http://www.interrail.eu/interrail-passes

Global Pass

I got myself two one moth Global Passes, but they sell many other types of passes ranging from 5 days – 1 month, some for individual countries and some or most of Europe.

I was extraordinarily grateful for my pass whilst travelling in Western Europe, where travelling country-county via train is very expensive. Don’t be fooled, you can’t just turn up at any train station and hop on a train wherever you want to go, with international trains reservations are usual mandatory, which does cost. Usually between 3-30 Euros depending on where you’re going. In Eastern Europe, I discovered that for certain places, such as Croatia, the InterRail pass can be almost useless… with coaches being dirt cheap and no train lines to key locations, it almost feels pointless to have an InterRail pass.
Do your research!
Look into where you’re planning on going, how long you’ll be in each place, compare the prices of train and coach tickets. You may find you waste money buying a pass, or you may save a fortune. If you do decide to InterRail, make sure you buy a copy of the European Rail Timetable before you go. It will help you plan ahead, work out where you can actually go via train and which trains you have to make reservations for.

Next, Guide books. I love guide books. They are a great way to investigate a place before you go. The two biggest names seem to be The Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. I must say, I bought so many guide books before I went, however the one I found most useful was Rough Guides: Europe on a budget. 

Europe on a Budget

This book was my savior. With recommendations for everything and a convenient map of each major city, it was light enough to carry everywhere in my handbag whist I was away. Each country is introduced firstly with key facts are outlined clearly, such as currency, an estimation of your daily budget and currency conversion rates. Secondly, a basic overview of the country’s history (well worth reading) is followed by descriptions of transport, accommodation, food, culture and activities.  Thirdly, the key towns and cites (picked by Rough Guides) are discussed. With the handy map and detailed recommendations from where to stay to what to do, I found this guide unbelievably useful.

Updated every 4 years, I’d highly recommend purchasing the up to date version  of this guide available on Amazon and pretty much all large bookshops.

The reason I didn’t get lonely whilst being away was because I stayed in hostels, all booked through
http://www.hostelworld.com/
which provides reviews, no booking fees and a 100% guarantee on their bookings. I’d recommend, if you’re booking in advance, to go through Hostelworld. It allows you pick the best hostel for you, with details into location, price and the atmosphere of the hostel itself. Trust me, they vary significantly!

I hope this helps getting you started!

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