Erika Silén and Marcus Holm, two young InterRail influencers from Sweden

We have the opportunity to act as InterRail influencers for the Swedish sales channel Europarunt which is hosted by SilverRail, a company that offers technical solutions for ticketing, mainly for train operators. We have traveled by InterRail lots of times and have experience with planning train routes, smart packing, way finding at train stations, booking the best accommodation, exploring a city in just a day, buying train friendly food and so on. Our work consists of running a YouTube channel, creating content for a website, posting posts on social media etc.

In 2018, we launched our YouTube channel. We filmed the episodes in a train-inspired studio in Stockholm and published about one episode per week. The idea was to give valuable tips, inform people who are planning a trip and inspire others to go. The episodes for example dealt with packing and budget hacks, suggestions on good routes, how to make seat reservations, where to book accommodation etc.

We have traveled with InterrRail ourselves a couple of times: the first time for 1.5 months and the last time for about 4 weeks. We visited in total 42 cities and 14 countries during our trips through Europe. Europe has so much to offer, more than you can ever imagine: everything from big cities to mountains and beaches. It’s fantastic to have the ability to experience all of this on one and the same trip, which is why we warmly recommend it!

Our last trip was a cooperation with Europarunt: we traveled around while being the company’s face outwards. Our main task was to make daily vlogs for the YouTube channel, to update the Instagram account daily, to collect photo materials etc. We also hosted a train event at the central station in Stockholm in December last year together with the travel magazine Vagabond.

The train as a mode of transport has become more popular in the last years. This is something we have noticed among people of our age, by talking to our friends etc. Also during our work we have seen an increase in the sale of InterRail passes. In addition, people have started to discuss the topic more and more, and it is frequently in the news, magazines and on social media. InterRail has had its “glory days” during the 70s/80s but now it feels like a new “wave” has come. More people choose train because they want to be environmentally friendly, want to experience more along the trip and to have a different kind of holiday, something else that they haven’t done before. People are also very helpful and happy to share their travel tips in different Facebook groups, blogs or just by talking and discussing with each other. We have noticed these positive changes and we think it is really fun when people ask us about tips for planning an upcoming train journey, and we enjoy helping others. Last summer the EU project DiscoverEU made it possible for young people who were 18 years old to apply for free InterRail-passes, and about 300 passes were handed out.

Several travel agencies in Sweden confirm that the interest of traveling by train in Europe is now record-high. According to an article by the Swedish Radio last summer, it has increased about 500 percent compared to the same period last year. And Aftonbladet wrote in December that the sale of InterRail passes during 2018 in Sweden had increased by almost 50 percent compared to last year.

When we chose to go by InterRail for the first time, people thought it was a good thing to do, but some people also had preconceptions about it, especially about what kind of people actually go on InterRail, and they were surprised that we were going to do it. Well, we don’t blame them, it’s common to have a stereotypical image of something you haven’t tried before and don’t know much about. Here are some typical things that people think about InterRail. We thought so too before we went:

  • Lots of delays
  • Crowded and uncomfortable trains
  • Risk of not getting a seat
  • Difficult to plan the trip
  • Only shorter distances
  • The trip must be spontaneous and “cheap”.

This is our experience:

  • Few delays and when we traveled for 6 weeks we didn’t miss a train or had bad experiences of delays.
  • It is not always that crowded. In high season there will be more people on popular routes/connections, but you can walk around in the train and you are more free compared to when you travel by car or airplane.
  • During the high season and summer it is good to make seat reservations on some popular connections but usually you do not have to.
  • It is not difficult to plan at all, all you have to do is check in the Railplanner app for timetables and choose when and where you want to go.

The Swedish Facebook group Tågsemester, a community dedicated to people who would like to travel by train on their vacation, has become extremely popular recently and today has 100.000 Swedish members! We asked them what they want to see improved within the train industry:

  • A common / comprehensive booking system, as both app and website
  • Easier travel to southern Europe, more fast trains
  • Keep the good service at the stations and more people to ask / infodesks
  • More clear information about for example seat reservations and how the InterRail pass works
  • Renovate old fashioned trains on popular routes, make them more modern and innovative, with airconditioning, charging possibilities etc.
  • Better collaboration between countries so you can book several train tickets on the same website and don’t have to book through different train companies in each country
  • Make it easier to bring a bicycle on the train
  • More direct train routes between big cities
  • Own space for luggage so it doesn’t have to be so crowded on the trains
  • Children should be able to travel on their own with a host as you can do on airplanes.

We hope that the train industry will continue to develop and that the international cooperation between train companies in Europe will grow, and we will continue to inspire others to choose to travel by train more often, and inspire other young people to go with InterRail in Europe!