Making a journey through the railways of Europe requires some planning.
I always wanted to do the interrail and began to cherish the dream of a backpacking trip back across Europe, since I heard the first reports of my friends over the years that embarked on this kind of adventure, in groups or alone, thru the European rail roads. After the entry of Portugal in the European Union and later the opening of the Schengen space traveling has become even easier and interrail accompanied this change. Currently instead of groups of countries we could visit with one ticket, we can even go to 30 nations depending of the number of days we want to use the service and that's what I decided to do, visit several countries with a single five-day ticket in the second class.
Sensibly the interrail site asks travelers to schedule their trips well in advance due to constraints arising from vacancies in some of the trains and also take into account certain extra costs that comes the obligation to reserve a seat in some of the busiest routes. What I meant to do? Traveling without programming anything and go visiting countries as my mood adventure dictated. What happened? I learned that we live in a world that even if we do not want it requires a certain organization, I mean Europe, and is not that the experience was disappointing, it was much different than I had imagined.
Let me explain, if they wish to make use the best possible wayof the interrail you must program and know how to manage the railways of the countries you wish to visit and leave some of the romantic sense of adventure into the unknown.
In my case I decided to travel thru the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium and what I learned was this:
To earn extra days in addition to the five previously acquired, the traveling must be at night, because the day time is to visit the cities you chose, but attention you should only embark on trains from midnight on in the country you want visit and never before, why? Because if you have to cross two nations as was my case from the Netherlands to Germany no longer there is a direct trains as in the past, what counted as just a day trip, you will have to change rail-companies, it means two days on your pass interrail. If you intend to earn that extra day, you should do it this way, travel between these two nations over dawn, so even if they have to change railroads you will arrive at your destination in the morning and can also take advantage of the pass interrail the end that same day.
Which brings us to the second question, the unexpected with which you should count (though the interrail manual address this issue). Many of these night trains require seat reservations and the extra pay that can range from 7 to 40 euros. Let me explain, if you intend to go on a wagon of six places (something I would strongly advise), because if you are lucky are the only occupants and can sleep at ease in empty seats and pay the minimum rate, them if you intended to be a kind of bed in rail , you pay more then 40 euros and if you have bad luck and not arrange anything you have to go in normal places, for the modest sum of 7 euros in the same, as was my case and sleep there becomes a challenge. Friendly advise, take sleeping masks because of the strong light, ear plugs because of the noise, pads for the shoulders, food and plenty of water and still, forget the shame and remove your shoes to be able to stretch your legs for confort, everyone does it as opposed to what you might think.
The other advice I have to give, always look in train stations for the balconies of international trips because without exception are served by very friendly employees that you help "navigate" through the respective national transport system that you are visiting, to choose the best times and reserve seats. In all the countries I visited everyone spoke English and it is particularly important to do so in the Netherlands, because the entire railway system works digitally and when you have a paper ticket becomes all a bit confusing because you do not know where and how to validate a trip. After all, it is not necessary for anyone who enjoys the interrail, you just have to fulfilled the dates of your trips that are validated by reviewers already inside the train. Very important, never forget to fill in the dates before the trip or make the mistake of rasurar the ticket, it can be costly, the fine can be around 100 euros and you lose a day trip because you got to fill it again, it was not my case, but these warnings also appear in the manual that comes with the interrail ticket and I advise strongly to read it carefully.
Third friendly warning, download the app that interrail makes available, because it is very useful to search routes, times and still shows the stops to the destination station. It was a very important tool, taking into account the locations have what seem strange names and thus avoids potential hasty exits from the train at the wrong stop.
One last piece of advice, if you decide to travel in Europe do it from the spring on, the days are longer and although you do night journeys, there is always a twilight that helps us to appreciate the landscape that in another time would be impossible.
Finally, I would make this kind of trip back? No. It was a truly a wonderful experience, because the routes are beautiful in terms of landscape during the day, trains are comfortable and the staff are always helpful and chordal, but when you are in your twenties is much easier to deal with body ache, lack of sleep and of hygiene, which does not mean that I'm sorry, on the contrary, at least I can now say I did and I can already think of my next adventure.