Interrail Planner / January 08, 2018
New Year, New Interrail Planner
After a few months of hard development work, we’re delighted to announce that we’re kicking off the new year with a host of new features! Inspired by feedback from the lovely Interrailers who have used Interrail Planner to plan their trips, as well as our experience using our own website to plan our trip last summer*, we think these improvements are going to make a huge difference to your planning experience.
So, let us take you through the changes and thoughts behind them! Sorry if it’s wordy, we’re just so dang passionate about making your Interrail experience the best it can be that we can get a bit carried away:
Tell the planner when you want to use your travel days
Interrail passes specify a validity period and the number of days on which you are permitted to travel using the pass within that period. These travel days are complicated to keep track of when planning a trip - that's why Interrail Planner has always had a unique pass tracking feature, which counts up the number of travel days a plan uses, as well as the total period in which those travel days are used. This lets you make sure your trip lines up to the Interrail pass you are going to buy.
However, we tried to be a bit too clever before and made a bunch of assumptions to decide whether or not the pass would be used for a particular journey. This meant that if one of those assumptions was wrong, the pass tracking feature was effectively broken for that plan.
So, we decided to give the power back to the planners! With a simple tickbox, you can now decide whether or not you will be using your pass for a particular journey, making the pass tracking feature much more flexible. Don't worry about having to do the tracking yourself though, we'll still do that.
We receive lots of positive feedback, but there was one question that was always cropping up: "Why can't I add stopovers?!"
Well, prospective Interrailers the world over will be pleased to know that you can now add stopovers! When a destination is set to 1 night, just hit the '-' icon, and it will drop into a stopover - effectively a 0 night stay. Interrailers can use this to add day trips and places that they plan to visit for a few hours before moving on to another city for the night.
With reference to the pass tracking above, we've been careful about how stopovers work in relation to this: if you choose to use your pass for the journeys either side of a stopover, we'll only count it as 1 travel day given that the journeys occur on the same day.
Furthermore, given that night trains count as using 1 travel day on the day of arrival (see 7pm rule), if you have a stopover on the day which follows a night train, we will make sure to only count 1 travel day used.
Search for flights
Interrailers will often fly to their first European destination, and back home from their last.
Why is that, you ask? Well, one reason is that it is not possible to use an Interrail pass to travel across the borders of your own country. There is one exception to this, which is that Interrailers can get a reduced fare on the Eurostar in exchange for one of their Interrail pass’s precious travel days. However, that reduced fare is around £20, so if you are travelling from London to any of Paris, Brussels, or Amsterdam, it can still be more cost effective to book a flight than pay the reduced Eurostar fare and use up one of your valuable travel days.
An additional advantage of flying to your first destination is that you can actually stretch out your Interrail trip. Say you flew to Amsterdam, and then took a train to Berlin a few days later. Your Interrail pass would not have to be active until the day you travelled to Berlin - in this scenario, the period for which your Interrail pass is valid starts counting down when you leave Amsterdam, not on the day you arrive. This means that those days in Amsterdam do not have to be counted within the validity period of your Interrail pass. So, rather than being limited to a 15 day Interrail trip (for example), if you fly to and from home, your trip can last 15 days plus the days in your first destination plus the days in your last destination. You can purchase the same Interrail pass, but visit 2 extra cities and spend even more time in Europe.
Therefore, even though Interrail is traditionally about train travel, it’s safe to say from the above that low-cost flying can also be an integral part of Interrailing.
And, with that in mind, we’ve made it possible to instantly search for flights using Interrail Planner!
We automatically fill in the origin, destination, and date using the plan details, and then take you to Skyscanner to find the best flights for that particular journey. This makes it super simple for Interrailers to determine good first and last destinations, based on flight times and prices. You can already search for accommodation and seat reservations on Interrail Planner in a very similar way, so this adds to a variety of features simplifying the Interrail planning experience.
We actually launched this feature in mid-November 2017, earlier than the rest of the changes in this post, and our hunch about its usefulness was proved right - people have already booked over 120 flights through Interrail Planner in 2 months!
Hide your home destination & edit your finish destination
By popular demand, we have provided the option to hide your home destination on the map. We received feedback that it was distracting to always have the routes going to and from home showing on the map, so hopefully this will solve that problem and you can focus on the fun part of the trip.
You can also now change your finish destination, so you are no longer forced to return home if you don’t want to.
Let us know what you think!
So, those are the major changes! We’d love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to get in touch and share your comments. If you encounter anything that seems to be broken or not working, try clearing your cache in your browser history, and if it persists even after you’ve done that, definitely let us know about the problem and we’ll get onto fixing it.
Other than that, we hope you find Interrail Planner even more useful than before, and have a fantastic Interrail trip!
*Fun fact: using your own product is known as ‘dogfooding’ in the tech world. How glamourous!