DiscoverEU: A Pre-Mortem for my Inter-railing Adventure

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Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

For those who don’t know, DiscoverEU is a new initiative that the European Union has just recently begun. It’s key objectives is to have young Europeans (18 years old), go out and discover the diversity of Europe while travelling, learn about European culture and history, connect with people from all over the continent, and ultimately discover themselves.

In short, its aim is to get young people to travel across Europe and discover what it has to offer, which is honestly a super cool and admirable mission.

Every year (since 2018 I believe), the Discover EU commission has held a competition that any young European can enter, where you can win a free Interrail pass to use for a month. For those who don’t know, Inter-rail passes permit pretty much unlimited travel through most Europeans nations via trains.

More than 600,000 young adults applied, while around 120,000 tickets were issued across Europe.

And somehow, 5 of those tickets landed into the hands of me and my friends🙂

It was amazing news. No, absolutely brilliant news.

These passes are like a once in a lifetime opportunity. They give you the opportunity to make amazing memories and discover fantastic experiences from several different countries. Trust me when I say we’re all STOKED for this adventure ahead of us.

Which now brings me to the most important and challenging part: the planning process.

While I will definitely make a follow up post talking about my plans and places we plan to see and visit, I want to make a quick pre-mortem post quickly thinking about things that could go wrong during the journey, as well as identify remedies to those possible problems.

I suppose it is a bit ridiculous and morbid, talking about things that can go horribly wrong, when the journey hasn’t even begun. Plus, isn’t it supposed to be a post-mortem? You know, post meaning after? As in, after the journey has happened? Well, yes and yes.

But that being said, I think making a pre-mortem can still be immensely valuable when planning something out. Often, making a mortem before the event has much more value than making one after, since you’ll now be prepared to face those problems confidently, if they do indeed arise.

The only rule that I’m going to set for myself in this post, is that I won’t go over late trains, planes, and other forms of transport, since most of the time that will be outside of our control.

Cool, with that being said let’s get straight into it.

🔇1. Language Barrier🔇

The countries that we plan on visiting will most likely have some kind of language barrier set up, which will prevent us from communicating effectively. Whether it be directions, signs in shops, or restaurant menus, it’s very likely we won’t be able to get across what we want.

On the flip side, most Europeans will definitely be bilingual, since they also grow up learning English as well as their native tongue. This should especially hold true in places like Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.

Another thing to think about is that if we’re going to be visiting mainly tourist areas (near the capital city), this barrier will probably be non-existent, since the entire area should be familiar with English. The biggest drawback of this strategy of just sticking to tourist areas are the potential scams and price traps lurking around.

Regardless, the language barrier would definitely be more prominent if we were visiting places in Asia, but probably not so much in Europe. If worst comes to worst, we’ll have an offline Google translate ready to use for the languages we’re not familiar with, so this problem shouldn’t cause too much trouble.

Additionally, in order to prepare for the absolute worst case scenario, such as if every single one of us got lost and separated and got stuck in a rural area that doesn’t speak English well (pretty ridiculous, but it’s worth mentioning), we need to have each member of the group download the countries that we plan on visiting’s language on Google translate.

🏠2. Accommodation 🏠

If we’re visiting popular tourist cities around Europe, I think accommodation is an essential problem to think about.

On one hand, it is very possible to simply ‘wing it’ and just look for accommodation once we arrive.

On the other hand, doing prior research on local hostels and hotels around the cities we plan to visit , in order to scout the prices and quality is probably the more logical option.

After watching a few videos on people who had gone Inter-railing in the past, they strongly recommended booking hostels , as most of the time there’ll be some super affordable deals going around that include free dinner and breakfast.

Thus, the plan of action is to first locate which train station we’ll arrive at, search up the hostels and hotels near that station, then check their quality, price, and potential deals they have. This can be done via their own website (best to check if they have one), or HostelWorld, or similar alternatives.

In the event of over-bookings, we should also have two other hostel/hotel locations prepared , just so we’re not wandering aimlessly around the streets at night, after an already exhausting travel day.

In case of extremely distasteful, noisy, or rude guests that were also living in our hostel, I think we should prioritise smaller and quieter hostels too, and if possible have our own room together.

3. Wasted Time

Another thing I’m afraid might happen is we spend too little time in some cities doing meaningful stuff, like sightseeing, experiencing the culture/traditions/history, getting to know the place, etc.

This problem is mainly going to have to be countered with vigorous planning, I think. My current plan of action is to assign each member of the group 1 or 2 cities, and each will be responsible for conducting research for those particular cities.

This research should include accommodation, popular tourist destinations, method of transport, and of course local places of interest. I’ll even take on the role of overseeing this activity, just to make sure we plan this trip as efficiently as possible.

I’ve also considered train times draining the majority of our travel time, and have decided to prioritise night trains whenever it is possible. That way, we cover both travel times and sleep in one go. Two birds with one stone🤷🏻‍♂️

If I think of/realise/hear of any more potential problems that might arise during an Inter-Railing adventure, then I’ll probably make a part 2 to this post.

Anyway, if you somehow made it through this insane rambling over what could go wrong with a dumb student’s trip around Europe, cheers mate.

Thanks for reading this far, stay safe 👋🏼

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