Exeter, Devon UK • Feb 22, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home International Interrailing, the Best Alternative Way to Travel

Interrailing, the Best Alternative Way to Travel

Eloise Grainger examines the benefits of travelling through Europe by train and compares it to flying to your final destination.
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A local train to Zagreb between Turcin and Sveti Ilija in Croatia, Image: David Gubler via Wikimedia Commons

Galivanting across Europe is now easier than ever before. Interrailing across Europe is an increasingly popular alternative to flying – over 600,000 passes are sold to both European and non-European residents each year. It is both a more ecological and economical form of travel. Interrailing is traveling by train across Europe by using an international rail pass, which allows unlimited travel through 33 countries. You gain access to 35 railway and ferry companies, meaning there are easy and convenient routes to most of your favourite European holiday spots. 

​One of the reasons interrailing is so beloved is due to how convenient, practical and flexible it is. The Interrail Pass opens you up to unlimited flexible train travel, which means your experience is stress free as there are plenty of trains leaving England for the European continent regularly. Rather than feel the urgency and demands of a flight timetable, you are able to relax and board whatever train time suits you at no extra cost. 

​One of the reasons interrailing is so beloved is due to how convenient, practical and flexible it is

There is also no wait time which means more of your time can be dedicated to exploring the cities you pass through. Rather than wait two hours prior to your flight, then wait a further few hours the other side for baggage reclaim and passport control, you can simply board a train without long security queues and arrive at your destination hassle free. For example, to get from London to Brussels, it would take around 5 hours 36 minutes by plane when accounting for queues and minor delays (according to InterrailEU), but by train, it only takes 2 hours and 18 minutes. 

Trains are also much more comfortable than a tight, cramped, and claustrophobic, aluminium tube that is an aeroplane. You still get fantastic views, but in a comfortable, large chair, where you can get up whenever pleases you, and of course, you can avoid the dreaded turbulence from a flight. On overnight trains you can even reserve a bed for a good night’s sleep. 1st and 2ndclass carriages can also be booked to add a luxury factor to your journey. 

One of the biggest pull factors towards interrailing is that the trains take you directly to the heart of your destination: Europe has one of the best rail networks in the world, meaning you can get from the bustling city centres right into the rural villages and seaside getaways with ease. Airports, unfortunately, are often located far from city centres, or require further travel with connecting busses or taxis. Interrailing, however, allows you to step off the train and be in the exact location you intended to be in, again reducing journey times. 

Prices often skew people towards inexpensive flights with budget airlines to Europe in particular, such as EasyJet, but Interrail EU have made travelling for students even easier. Train companies have recognised that young people don’t have the funds for travelling, so they have developed a Youth Pass that grants 25% off fares for people 27 and younger. Most air travel companies market a standard adult ticket only. A 2nd class 1-month continuous Interrail pass for an adult, for example, would cost £585, but for a young person, it would cost £439. These also come with many discounts, which is something that airlines rarely offer.

Prices often skew people towards inexpensive flights with budget airlines to Europe in particular, such as EasyJet, but Interrail EU have made travelling for students even easier

Last, but most certainly not least, is interrailing is less damaging to the environment. Everyone knows that air travel is a huge polluter of carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming. Interrailing is an eco-friendlier alternative to this form of transport – on average, using the train emits 6x less Greenhouse gas emissions than flying, making it one of the cleanest transportation methods, particularly on longer distances. Compared to cars and airplanes, trains consume little energy too. Where short flights are the big polluters, city-hopping via interrailing offers a more environmentally conscious approach. To put this into context, flying to Berlin from Amsterdam emits 170kg of CO2, but only 26.9kg of CO2 by train!

Interrailing is therefore a cost effective, more practical, and ecological form of travelling. Not only are there a lot of benefits regarding comfort, scenery, and flexibility, but students on tight budgets can still explore beautiful Europe without damaging the environment or the bank account.

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