The Ultimate Interrailing Guide for Parents

Interrailing solo or with a friend – one of the most incredible experiences they will remember forever.
Interrailing solo or with a friend – one of the most incredible experiences they will remember forever.
Photo by VisionPic .net from Pexels

Is your child looking to go interrailing in the near future? Then there are a few things that you should know to ensure that you’re prepared for their trip. It’s never easy to see your kids fly from the nest and start to go on adventures – whether they are on their own or with their friends.

And interrailing is no different. One thing to keep in mind is that with interrailing, millions of other young adults do it too – so your child will always be in good company. As long as they stick to an itinerary and are street-smart, there shouldn’t be any issues.

What is Interrail?

First issued way back in the 1970s, interrail passes are an ideal way to travel cheaply and freely throughout Europe. Particularly popular with young adults aged between 18 and 25, it’s a train pass which gives them the opportunity to travel to 31 different countries.

Once they have decided where they want to go, they can build their route on Interrail Planner’s Interrail planning tool and plot out which cities make sense within their time available.

Why interrailing is worth it

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s first important to understand why interrailing is worth it. Because as a parent, the prospect of travelling to a variety of destinations across Europe via train and staying in hostels or budget-friendly hotels might not appeal. However, as a younger adult, it’s incredibly exciting.

The thought of seeing different cities, learning about the various cultures, eating local cuisine and making friends is very appealing to them. There’s something so magical about getting out there on your own or with a travel companion and discovering a brand-new city and having the freedom to do what you want, when you want. 

And with the variety of different routes available, they can design their own or follow an already-existing route around places they have always dreamt about going.

Why an itinerary and route is essential

As a parent, one of the first things that you should persuade your child to do before they go interrailing is to create an itinerary and a route to follow. Not only will this ensure that they know exactly where they are going to stay, but also that they can plan out what activities they will do in each destination.

However, it also means that you can know exactly where they will be travelling to next. This will give you the peace of mind that they aren’t playing it by ear. 

To make the process easier for them, Interrail Planner has a wide selection of different routes to choose from, whether they are interested in travelling around the Baltics, Eastern Europe or want a ready-made interrailing package. Or, plan from scratch here and save the plan so both you and your child know where they’ll be each day.

How to keep track of them

If you’re worried that your kids aren’t safe whilst interrailing or they aren’t where they said they were going, then there are several ways that you can keep track of them. Of course, you should start by sending them a message to check up on their travels – but if you don’t trust what they are saying then you could use one of the following methods.

Firstly, you could use a device such as PocketFinder. Working with Android or iOS, they will give you up to 2 months of map history. Customised to your needs, it’s a clever technology that could be very effective.

Secondly, you could use the free GPS app, Life360. Available also on Android or iOS, it’s one of the most popular family-friendly apps out there. You can use it to see when your kid has arrived or left their set destinations. It also has group messaging and gives you the opportunity to connect with them via a VoIP call system. 

Thirdly, you could use Find my Friend. Although this is only available on iOS, it’s a clever app that allows you to see exactly where your child is in real-time. Keep in mind, however, that this will only work if they have a signal whilst travelling.

How to ensure your kids are safe whilst interrailing

As mentioned, one of the biggest concerns of many parents when their kids are travelling is their safety. Which is why not only is it vital to get your child to share their itinerary with you, but to advise them on the following:

Hostel Safety – Make sure that they have a padlock on their luggage for when they leave the hostel room. 

Theft – Advise them to keep their possessions on their body at all times when out and about and hide it underneath clothing. Alternatively, it can be stored at the bottom of their bag/backpacks. Unfortunately, certain European cities, such as Barcelona have been linked to pick-pocketing. Therefore, it’s vital that your child is aware of how to keep their possessions safe.

Hostel or Hotel – Although your child is probably aware of this, advise them to look for accommodation in a good, central location. When looking at the various options, encourage them to read reviews to see what others have thought of it.

Trains – Where possible, encourage your child to keep their luggage with them and their valuables next to them – away from the threat of being taken.

Communication – Ensure that your child has given you details about where they are staying and when along with asking them to contact you if any travel plans have changed. Get them to take a photo of the hostel or hotel’s address so they can always find their way home.

Maps – Although many young adults will use their mobile phone to navigate where they are going, ask them to bring a physical map with them in case their phone runs out of battery. These are always available at the hostel or hotel and are very useful.

How to ensure they budget their money

Most interrailers will know the importance of planning out their budget in advance. This will help to keep costs from spiralling and being left with nothing during the trip. However, some young adults might not be as aware of this issue.

Therefore as a parent, encourage them to work out a daily allowance for food and other expenses that might occur. Advise them that prices can vary hugely country by country, therefore some days may be more expensive than others. 

Alongside cash, nowadays many interrailers take a prepaid card with them. This allows them to see how much money they have leftover and how much they have spent so far. Revolut, Starling or Monzo‘s debit card is a great example of this, as they also have no fees for using their card abroad.