After finishing university, me and two of my friends decided to go travelling on the cheap. As we we’re still pretty new to the game, and I was on the verge of being completely broke, we decided to take the popular option and go Eurorailing (or Interrailing, if you’re from Europe!).
If you don’t know what Eurail is, it is a company that offers passes for unlimited rail travel within 33 participating European countries for a certain length of time. It’s a great option for your first time travelling as you’ll always have a safe means of transport to get you around, saving you the faff and cost of finding your own way with busses and taxi’s.
Of course, Eurail Italy seemed to be the cheapest option on the site, offering 8 days of unlimited train travel to be used within one month. Being from the UK, we knew we could find flights for a very good price. So, we settled on a 8 day pass where we could literally get on as many trains and busses as we wanted to. Seems like a great deal right?
How we planned our backpacking trip around Italy?
Planning a trip with friends, especially when you’re nervous travelers, can feel like a hefty task. It might sound obvious, but a series of questions are a really great starting point to set the tone of the trip, and figuring out where you may or may not be going.
First question: Have you visited Italy before, and if so, where?
We didn’t feel it would be fair to drag each other around cities we’ve already visited and don’t particularly like. Its also an opportunity to find out which popular tourist spots might be worth a miss (there’s nothing more wasteful than an underwhelming tourist spot). I was quite fortunate that one friend had already visited Rome but was more than happy to explore it again.
I am a huge fan of Assassins Creed, so I desperately wanted to visit Florence. After seeing pictures, my friends did too – bonus! Both my friends really wanted to visit Venice too. I wasn’t too sold on venice but I was happy to go along for the ride. And I’m glad we went as of course, Venice is beautiful.
Second question: What kind of experience are you looking for?
Additionally, asking eachother what we might like to get out of the trip was a great starting point for research. For example, we all agreed we wanted at least one beach day, we just had to figure out where and when. Additionally, you also have to factor in that we.were.broke uni students, so we knew that private Airbnb’s and parties weren’t for us. We kept in mind a maximum budget, and stuck to it. If it wasn’t feesible for one, and there wasn’t a way of getting around it, then it wasn’t feesible at all.
How to figure out which cities in Italy to visit?
Firstly, we booked our plane tickets mostly out of budget. So, we knew we would arrive in the south of Italy, in Naples, and depart in Verona. Immediately, we were able to use guides and tripadvisor to decide if these cities were worth spending more time to explore, and as a result, help us figure out how much time we might need to accomodate.
But what about all in between?
So, my biggest tip here for an trip – use Pinterest! This is my biggest source of travel inspiration and planning. Of course, pictures lie, but it’s a good starting point to research more about an area. It’s also a great way to discover other blogs and travel guides too. We discovered pictures of Capri from Pinterest, and realised a quick day trip from Naples to Capri covers the beach day getaway we were looking for.
We kept our research of potential places to visit in an accessible google document. To save ourselves time and confusion, we included a bullet point list of things to do in each city, as well as pictures. Eventually we would get together and narrow it down to the ones we felt were the best to visit. A mix of logistics and feelings!
So matching up our priorities, along with places inspired through research, we then were able to create our Eurail map. Our trip included Naples, Capri, Pompei, Rome, Florence, Venice and Verona. It took a bit of time to get there and we found ourselves running around in circles, but that’s the nature of planning a trip on a tight budget and within a tight time frame!
Is a Eurail pass worth the money?
Now the real question, is it worth it to buy a Eurail pass? Is it more cost effective? Is it better just to pay separately for transport? I cover all these questions in my YouTube video, and provide the full cost summary of how much it would have cost if I hadn’t purchases the pass.
I hope you found this guide useful and interesting. Have you been travelling with your friends before, and if so, how did you set upon planning it? I’d love to hear your suggestions, especially if you use any great apps.