The Definitive Inter-Railing Guide

Inter-railing is the ideal solution for those looking to travel around Europe cheaply and easily. However with so many diverse countries and wonderful cities to choose from, it can be difficult to decide on the best route.

Choosing where to go
An inter-railing ticket lasts for a month. The first thing to decide is whether to concentrate on just one or two countries or to try and see as many of the great cities as possible. For the former option then Italy is a good choice. It has beautiful scenery, famous cities including Rome, Florence, Pisa, Naples and Milan. Alternatively you could spend your month in Spain and move from mountains to beach resorts and visit a range of interesting towns from Granada to Barcelona.

However with a month to travel around Europe concentrating on just one country could be seen as a wasted opportunity with so many great cities to visit. These could include Paris with its wonderful architecture, museums not to mention bars and restaurants. Follow the relatively sedate French life with a trip to the lively capital of Germany Berlin. From being a divided city, Berlin has transformed itself and the former drab east is now the centre of a lively and cosmopolitan night life. It is full of lively bars and clubs open to all hours of the morning. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and has long been an essential stopping point on an inter-railing tour. It is no longer quite the cheap city it was but it still has beautiful buildings and the famous Charles Bridge. From there you could continue with the former eastern European theme and visit the city of two parts Buda and Pest situated on either side of the Danube. There are of course many other great cities of Europe which could be included such as lively Amsterdam, or picturesque Vienna.

Whichever route you choose it is wise to break up the cities with a little bit of down time in a small country town or a few days by a beach or lake somewhere. Large cities are wonderful but a month moving from one city to another can be exhausting and after a while they can merge into one.

Practical considerations
Although most inter-railers try and keep their luggage to a minimum, as they have to carry it everywhere for a month, it will still probably contain valuables. Items such as mobile phones, cameras, credit cards and kindles are now standard for most people. However, if they were stolen they would cost a considerable amount to replace. Travel insurance is therefore advisable and also covers issues such as injuries and emergency medical care. The easiest way to ensure you are covered is to buy travel insurance online before you go to give you peace of mind.

Finding somewhere to stay when you arrive in a strange city can be daunting. However in all cities there are a variety of hostels which provide good, clean, comfortable and cheap accommodation often very centrally. In the summer they can get very full so it is advisable to try and arrive as early as possible as this is the best time to find a bed.

Inter-railing is a wonderful way of travelling across and seeing Europe for those with the time to do it.

The Top 6 Islands of Greece

Any lover of Greek mythology dreams of visiting the islands of Greece to immerse themselves in the birthplace of these legends. Unfortunately, many travellers are put-off by the reputation Greece has garnered as a major tourist trap. However, there are more than 150 inhabited islands, and in total, only 30 get overcrowded by badly behaving English tourists. Visit one of our favourite Greek islands, because you’re really missing out.

Gavdos

Due to the fact that it’s hard to reach and even harder to get off, Gavdos attracts very few permanent residents and even fewer tourists. Less than 50 people live on the island now, but Gavdos has been occupied since Neolithic times. It’s considered the possible homeland of mythical Kalypso, who held Odysseus captive in Homer’s Odyssey. Archaeological evidence shows that the Roman Empire hunkered down on this land for quite some time. Unlike many Greek islands now, you’re welcome to kip on the beach.

Skyros

According to Greek Mythology, Skyros is where fabled hero, Theseus died. Another famous person who found their resting place in Skyros was patriotic English poet, Rupert Brooke, who perished on board a French hospital ship in 1915. Skyros has become a sanctuary for new age holidays, which include activities like yoga, dancing, mosaics, and writing. You can find Skyros’ rare breed of ponies running wild here and even the island’s own castle.

Santorini

After a volcanic explosion which occurred in 1,500BC, Santorni was devastated and the population severely decimated. Now, the capital city, Fera, perches on top of this now quiet volcano, looking over the deep blue sea. When you think of Greece, you’ll be imagining the picture-perfect landscape of Santorni, which lingers in most people’s minds, when they look at postcards.

Farmakonisi

A young Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held ransom at Farmakonisi for 38 days. After he demanded that his family pay twice the money the captors had asked for (as he believed his worth to be much greater), he promised to kill the inhabitants of the island. Sure enough, Caesar lived up to his word and crucified the entire population. Ever since, no-one has settled down permanently on Farmakonisi, but you can catch a private yacht, as long as you take your own supplies.

Cephalonia

A real must-see island, book your flight to Kefalonia at a discount price online and enjoy the magic. An archaeologically crucial area, Cephalonia has exposed some of the most well-preserved Roman tombs and theatres known to the modern world. The popular book by Louis de Bernieres, ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,’ brought deserved attention to the beautiful beaches and land of Cephalonia.

Mykonos

If you’re young and looking for a party atmosphere, Mykonos is a spellbounding place to enjoy the night. Every evening, for a few hours, the brown rocks catch the sun and turn a shimmering gold. Look closer and you’ll notice lots of youthful people ready for a spectacular evening. Sometimes, hanging with the crowds is a good thing.

Budget Travel in Japan

Vacation RentalsJapan is a wonderful, popular destination for travelers across the globe, however there are a few aspects of planning you have to deal with before entering the Land of the Rising Sun. The most important things during your time there you need to cover are accommodation and travel expenses. Planning ahead is very important if you want to have the best time at the most affordable prices.

Budget Travel in Japan

Traveling within Japan can be easier for foreigners because of their cheaper internal flights available only to non-natives and the nice, useful rail passes. They are mostly affordable and can be purchased long before setting foot on Japanese soil. There are deals on the passes available for both the Shinkansen (the bullet train) or the slower, regular trains. Websites like Hyperdia.com offer a great tool to keep track of timetables and prices in the Japanese train system. The rail pass is well known to travelers and its duration vary between 7 and 21 days. The pass has its own website – JapanRailPass.net which offers detailed information on the subject. If you don’t use a train pass the tickets may be a bit steep, so plan ahead. On the other hand if you want a cheap opportunity for train travel there is nothing better than the Seishun Juhachi Kippu, or the Seishun 18. It offers a 5-day pass for any and all non-bullet train lines in Japan. When it comes to train travel you need to decide whether you favor speed over view, since the bullet train doesn’t offer enough time to react because of its incredible speed – some of the train lines run at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph)!

Some of these passes however are only available during certain times of the year, so make sure you are aware of when that happens and how to best fit these into your timetable.

You must make sure you plan ahead on the things you want to see in Japan, since leaving yourself to the currents there is a recipe for a chaotic experience. There is simply too much to see and never enough time to see it all. Prioritize, make sure you know your reason for coming to Japan. You may want to visit Mount Fuji or the cherry blossom festivals or shop around Harajuku or Akihabara. Whatever your goal, make sure you have a game plan.

Accommodation is usually something expensive in Japan, however there are possibilities in getting cheaper rooms if you know where to find them. It all greatly depends on whether you’re traveling alone, with a group or as a couple.

* Guesthouses are available at affordable prices if you’re planning on staying for a while, and they offer a traditional Japanese experience for the most part.

* Business hotels often offer great prices, especially if you move away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and Kyoto and into the rest of the country.

* Capsule hotels are a nice way of spending time by yourself, but their communal bathrooms and claustrophobic interior can be a bit too much.

* Hostels are also a good way to stay, especially off-season. There are youth hostels, tourist houses and independent hostels which allow for a more socially interesting experience and affordable prices during your stay.

* Love Hotels might have a seedy name, but in reality are a great way for couples to spend time together at very affordable prices. They are something normal and not what the name implies and their accommodations are much better than the rest. The only problem about that is that their check-in times are late in the evening as well as their check-out happens early in the morning as well. Mostly used by young Japanese couples as a way to enjoy some alone time away from the crowded urbanization of modern Japan.

* Minshuku are family-run accommodations where one can experience traditional Japanese life and cuisine. They are a lot more frequent outside the cities, where life is calm and less hectic.