InterRailing: kipping down
With all the excitement of zipping around Europe by train, you'll need to get some well-earned shut-eye at some point. Here are your options for bedding down.
To tent or not to tent?
Braving the elements and dodging cow pats might not be everyone's idea of fun, but many find that sleeping under canvas is one of the best ways to enjoy an Inter-rail trip. You can camp for a fraction of the price of a hostel bed and there's less need to book ahead. As well as countryside and seaside campsites there are many in or around most major cities, and they often run free buses into the centre. Buy a map that shows campsites and you'll never be stuck for somewhere to stay. Tourist information centres will be able to give you a list, too.
If you're not a pro at pitching tents, try putting up your tent in your garden before you head off on holiday. This will help you make sure you've got the hang of it and that you've got all the necessary bits.
Hostels and hotels
Hostels are ideal for those looking to meet people on their travels. You can sleep in a shared dorm or bag yourself a group or double room. You'll often find that a one- or two-star hotel works out just as cheap as a hostel, if not cheaper. It's often a good idea to book your hotel or hostel in advance, but if not, at least try to arrive at a new destination in the morning to give yourself enough time to look for somewhere to stay.
Don't forget to write down the name and address of where you're staying before you go out. This will save you traipsing the streets until the early hours wondering how to get back. It'll also help if you want to jump in a taxi or ask for directions - even if the person you're talking to doesn't understand what you're saying, they might at least be able to read your handwriting.
Sleeping on the train
If you can't afford a hostel, you can kip your way across the continent on a night train instead. But, before you get too comfy, make sure you won't have to pay for the privilege. Actual sleeper cabins with bunks are generally not covered by your Inter-rail ticket. If you want to sleep in one of these, you'll need to pay a supplement. Even so, most night trains will have seats that you can sleep on for free - some tip back or unfold to make a comfy-ish bed.
It can get cold on trains at night, wherever you are, so try packing your sleeping bag close to the surface of your backpack so it's easy to reach. Also, take something comfy to rest your head on, a bottle of drinking water, toilet paper, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a bar of soap - a little bit of hygiene help will make you feel less gross in the morning.
Written by Jess Fitch from gapyear.com
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