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Interrailing through Europe has become a right of passage for young people today, armed with a passport and a paper train ticket that works on almost any train across the continent, an interrail trip has no boundaries.
The scheme has evolved over it’s 47 years, there is no longer an upper age limit opening up the opportunity to a broader range of travellers. And, with passes now ranging from 3 days to 3 months, they can be just as useful on a long weekend as a gap year.
Anyone who is aged 27 or under, will automatically get up to 23% off an Interrail pass just by choosing the youth option. However, there are far more savings to be gained. I’ll never pay full price for my Interrail passes again and I’m going to share my secrets with you.
Note: Interrail passes are only available to European citizens, if you’re visiting Europe from outside Europe, you’ll need to get a Eurail pass. This is from the same company and works in the same way but I believe is a little more expensive to buy.
Is an Interrail Pass right for your trip?
An Interrail pass provides flexibility and freedom, it is perfect if you’re backpacking around Europe and don’t have any concrete plans of where/when you’ll be travelling.
If you know the exact dates and locations of the journey’s you need to make and it’s still over a month away, then you should check the price of purchasing advance end-to-end tickets for those journeys as it will likely be cheaper.
Interrail global or one-country pass?
There are two types of Interrail passes available, they are quite self explanatory:
- A global pass allows travel in all 31 countries where the passes are accepted
- A one-country pass is limited to travel in the country you choose when purchasing
Find out more about the full range of passes and prices on the Interrail.eu site.
Before we begin, I need to dispel a few myths I hear about Interrail discounts:
- Interrail coupon codes or discount codes – To the best of my knowledge, there are no coupon codes or discount codes for Interrail passes (and I’ve done a lot of research!). Whilst the presence of a ‘coupon code’ box on the interrail.eu checkout page leaves the possibility open, I’ve never come across anyone who had successfully used one.
- Interrail student discount – The company claims to offer student discount, however this is just a reference to the fact that youth passes are up to 23% cheaper than adult passes. There is no requirement to be a student therefore, in my book, this is not a student discount.
Tips to Save Money on Interrail Passes
If you’re convinced you need to purchase an interrail pass, don’t pay full price for your pass just yet! Check these money saving tips and you may even be able to bag yourself a free pass.
1. Use MyInterrail *recommended option*
MyInterrail is a site from the UK’s National Rail organisation. Here, you’ll find discounted interrail passes that are generally about 5% cheaper than the official interrail.eu store.
However you’ll need to bear in mind the differences in delivery.
- Delivery on an interrail pass direct from interrail.eu costs €9-11 and takes up to 10 working days regardless of where you live.
- Delivery on an interrail pass from MyInterrail costs £10 in the UK and £30 in the rest of Europe. Delivery is next day in the UK and takes 3 working days in the rest of Europe.
If you’re getting your pass delivered in the UK, it will always be cheaper to use MyInterrail – Visit My Interrail
However, the delivery cost will impact your decision if you are getting it delivered to Europe as the delivery cost may cancel out any savings, especially on cheaper passes.
Hint: The delivery cost is purely based on the delivery address and nothing to do with your citizenship. There is nothing stopping you from getting your pass delivered to a hotel, hostel or friend in the UK if you make arrangements to do so.
2. DiscoverEU Free Interrail Pass Scheme
*Ideal if you’re 18 or turning 18 soon*
What’s better than a cheap Interrail pass? A free one of course! If you’re already 18 or are turning 18 soon, then you could be in with the chance of getting a 30 day global Interrail pass completely free.
DiscoverEU, a scheme from the European Union, has been offering free Interrail passes to thousands of 18 year old’s across the EU for the past few years. There are two application windows each year, check my full guide to the DiscoverEU scheme to find out how to apply in the next round.
This scheme is a pilot until the end of 2020 so there are no guarantees it will continue beyond then.
3. Current Promotions
From time to time, interrail.eu runs promotions on passes from it’s online store. Here is the latest promotion I found on their website:
[OPEN NOW] March Sale: Discount of 10% on all Global Passes through March, ends 31/3. See discounted tickets here.
4. Official Interrail Competitions
Interrail (or it’s parent company, Eurail) often run competitions offering free passes as prizes.
Here is a list of the current competitions (updated Jan 2020) but it’s worth checking the competitions section of the interrail site for any updates.
Current competitions (as of Jan 2020):
- Sign up to the Eurail/Interrail eMagazine for the chance to win 2 free Eurail or Interrail tickets every month in 2020. The free passes on offer are 1st class for 10 travel days in 2 months.
5. Use Multiple One-Country Passes Instead of a Global Pass
*If you’re willing to compromise on flexibility*
If you have a clear idea of which countries you’re planning to visit and know that you’ll be spending your time travelling in central or eastern Europe, then consider getting multiple one-country interrail passes rather than a global pass.
The works because the cost of travel is cheaper in central and eastern Europe so the one-country Interrail passes are cheaper for those countries too. You’ll need to calculate whether you can personally save from this technique.
When calculating the cost of this method, remember that when you cross borders, you’ll need to have a one-country pass valid in both countries which will impact your number of travel days and you can’t get the free inbound or outbound journeys in your own country.
Here’s an example of an itinerary involving the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to demonstrate the point.
Price using 3 x one-country passes (youth, second class) – total of 10 travel days after accounting for the border crossings:
|Czech Republic||4 days in a month||£59|
|Slovakia||4 days in a month||£59|
|Hungary||4 days in a month||£91|
Price using a global pass with equivalent no. of travel days:
|Global – 10 days flex||10 days in 2 months||£283|
Total saving is £74
If you’re heading to 4 or less countries and they are predominantly in central or eastern Europe, you should definitely check the prices of multiple one-country passes. Once you visit 4 or more countries the global pass starts to become more economical.
*Ideal if you’re visiting the UK*
Will you be visiting the UK as part of your trip? If so, then you might be able to make use of a Britrail pass.
This works exactly like an interrail one-country pass for Great Britain, only it’s cheaper than Interrail and comes with more benefits. You can also break it down to certain parts of Britain for even more discount, e.g. England only.
I wrote a full guide on the benefits of Britrail vs Interrail for UK travel.
Unfortunately Britrail passes are not available to British citizens.
Don’t other countries have similar schemes? Whilst most European countries have schemes like this, most of them are only available to non-European citizens. Britrail is an exception to this rule. For other European countries the interrail one-country pass is the best option.
7. Complimentary Passes for Influencers
If you are a blogger or influencer with a reasonable sized audience then you may be able to request a complimentary Interrail pass in return for sharing blogs or social media posts about your trip. Submit a request via their dedicated influencer request form.
I hope this was a useful guide. If you have any more coupon codes, vouchers or other top tips for getting a discount on Interrail/Eurail passes, please share them with me in the comments!
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