Inter-Railing - Me and 11 YO DD?(8 Posts)
Some advice, tips, whatever, needed from you guys about a trip I want to do with my DD aged 11 in the summer. I never got to do the gap year thing but love travel and having had 3 highly successful youth hostelling trips around Wales with my daughter for the past few summers, I would like to venture further afield and do the inter-railing around Europe thing. I believe that as my daughter is (and will still be) 11, she travels free on the trains? I want to choose a 2 week route which is going to be budget friendly and include hostels that will take children. I'm fairly relaxed about where I go but don't want to take too much as I know it will be me that ends up carrying it all. It would be nice to get in a bit of culture, beach, and relaxation too. Ideally I'd like to include Munich, Prague, Croatia, Spain, Portugal and a bit of Scandanavia but that's way to far in just 2 weeks - we could stretch to 3 weeks but I am really keen to keep costs down - no restaurants if possible (unless v cheap). Hope you can give me some advice....
Munich, Prague and Croatia would be doable in one trip but i wouldn't do Spain and Portugal too. Prague is a perfect idea.. there's so much to do for all ages and interests, but I wouldn't take an 11 year old to Munich. If it were me, I'd go from Harwich to Holland by ferry and then catch the train to Amsterdam. From there I'd go to Berlin, then Prague, Vienna and Budapest. I'd fly back from Budapest. It would probably be over two weeks as there's so much to do in each city.
An alternative that doesn't involve flying back and incorporates a bit of beach would be Paris, Bordeaux, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville,Madrid. You could then start to come back through France via train, could continue into Portugal if you had time or could one back via ferry from Bilbao.
Scandinavia is quite expensive but would be lovely.
I'm interested that you wouldn't suggest Munich. I have friends (with kids) that live there and love it. It's top of my bucket list. Is it unsafe? I'm thinking I want to do Croatia and also Lake Garda - too many places and not enough time. I'm a bit worried about finding my way once out of the main cities.
Check out seat61.com - best rail info site out there!
Also railbookers.com specialise in rail travel - we got our honeymoon tickets from them and went down to Spain then on a boat which we had booked separately and then back up from Athens to Italy to France and home, worked really well.
Have a look at some of their rail tours to get an idea of the routes and timings they use to see what they do and what they think works in different timescales and use them to help plan your own route.
I'd do Budapest (thermal baths!), Slovenia (Ljubljana-Bled), Croatia (Zagreb and somewhere on the coast. I'd avoid Split as it's sort of a party place with loud techno music,etc although the city itself is lovely). Beware-train journeys will be really long in Croatia). Hungary and Slovenia will be really cheap. Croatia not too bad. Make sure you sort the accommodation early for Croatia though.
You could possibly see Venice too but it will be awfully busy at this time of year.
I personally don't think there is that much to Prague.
I would also avoid 'proper' Eastern Europe (former Yougoslavia aside from Croatia) as the train network is really limited so you won't be making much use of your pass.
I'd do Munich then Innsbruck then onto Lake Garda. The train through the alps will be amazing views. You could do Verona and Venice from there, it's not too far. There are beach resorts near Venice. Berlin would be great too.
Um I don't think an 11 year old will be free - discounted yes but most likely not free, not on most trains anyway. I think it is usually under 5 or under 7 for completely free train travel on European trains but then again I may be wrong. I've done interrailing this past summer, only got the pass because I was travelling alone and it took the pressure off having to plan ahead but if you've got a kid with you, you're already having to plan again. If you're really looking for the cheapest option, book flixbuses individually and trains where it's necessary. I took two months to make my way from Amsterdam to Istanbul and found it was definitely cheaper the further east I went with the exception of Austria (all the way to Poland and then started heading south). I would 100% recommend going to Ljubljana and doing a day trip from there to Lake Bled (the buses are easy to figure out). In terms of being afraid your going to panic and getting lost, I spent a large portion of my trip (mostly the first day when I arrived in a destination) relying on google maps as I was able to get unlimited data abroad from o2 for those 2 months for £60 or so (usual phone bill £20 but worth the cost) and relied on maps after a day or two of familiarising myself with the city. There was a definitely a few places where I would walk out the train station and have a moment of "oh god where the fuck am I" but would just remain calm and collected and not let it show on my face as I went on my phone to google location. A lot of Europeans are genuinely friendly and will point you in the right direction if lost, was very lucky to not have any experience with scammers or thieves despite travelling through Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Greece and Turkey even though I was warned there would be a lot. Also if you do go as far as turkey, buy long thin baggy trousers and if you have blonde hair like me, a hat or scarf to cover head, as otherwise you will stick out a mile. I would say that I spent between 2-4 days at each destination but would recommend 4-6 days at each destination with a kid as when I got home, despite being extremely young, fit and active, I collapsed into a mini coma for a few days from exhaustion - that was me doing 12 hours walking and exploring places everyday (average was 26 miles a day I walked) but felt I managed to see most of the sights I wanted to. Also I can't recommend Krakow enough - they have a supercool pinball museum and cheap food served at these little communist diner things plus grand elegant horses strolling around the beautiful cobbled city centre.
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