InterRail memories from before the internet age

I set off on my first InterRail journey in 1987. It was long before the days of blogging, and the few notes that I recorded in a notebook are now long gone. Yet I did recently dig out some of the assorted junk that I’d brought back in my rucksack.

At the time I must have been mad to have carried all of this paper waste half way around Europe. But now, nearly a quarter of a century later, it’s a real treat to dig through the old timetables, place mats and tickets and reminisce, not just of a personal past that is a distant memory, but also of a Europe that is now so different to the one I explored with such recklessness.

I’ve attached a few of these mementos, and wonder if anyone recognises any of these original 1980s European artefacts:

Inter Rail Ticket

Inter Rail Ticket

Inter Rail ticket 1988

Inter Rail ticket 1988

A 5Kr Norwegian burger voucher - still valid?

A 5Kr Norwegian burger voucher - still valid?

My Youth Hostel Association 'passport'

My Youth Hostel Association 'passport'

National Museum of Belgrade- entrance 200 Dinar

National Museum of Belgrade- entrance 200 Dinar

McDonalds goes Chinese in German

McDonalds goes Chinese in German

East German transit visa

East German transit visa

Proof that I stayed in Munich's famous Tent

Proof that I stayed in Munich's famous Tent - still going, 23 years later!

Map of Ljubljana

Map of Ljubljana - not sure why I have this - my train didn't stop here

An expensive hotel bed in Florence

An expensive hotel bed in Florence

A last resort - playing for my supper

The last resort: playing my flute for my supper outside Notre Dame in Paris

Author Information

Freelance travel writer

19 Responses to “InterRail memories from before the internet age”

  1. Genie #

    You’ve reminded me to dig out my old AHY passport and remember some places I stayed — Boston, New Hampshire, D.C.

    October 25, 2010 at 6:02 pm
  2. Pertti Saloheimo #

    Nice memory pieces. I made 4 InterRails myself between 1981-1988. Nice that you visited Finland (Rovaniemi), too.

    October 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm
  3. Love this bit of photo nostalgia Andy! Will include it in my octavius express rail round up feature. If you fancy doing a more narrative guest post along these lines one day just let me know. ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers, Jools

    October 26, 2010 at 2:34 am
  4. The beginning of a great adventure…

    There’s also something about how documents feel as they age. It’s great to digitize them, almost giving them a new archival quality.

    Yet the dogeardness and the dated fonts make a more poignant memory for me when you can feel the material is also dating.

    Nice, I need to travel, now!

    October 26, 2010 at 10:05 am
  5. Thanks for the comments folks. It was a lot of fun to dig through these things that were lying at the bottom of a drawer in my parents’ home. Why I kept them then, I’ve no idea – but I’m glad I did. As you say Mark, they can on another quality as digitised images.
    Pertti, are you from Rovaniemi yourself? I had a memorable time up there and met some very hospitable Finnish travellers too ๐Ÿ™‚

    October 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm
  6. Joanne Morgan #

    Yes. Life before the internet and mobile GPS. Those were magical times…I think travel was a bit more challenging then and we didn’t take it for granted.

    October 26, 2010 at 7:33 pm
  7. Lovely nostalgia. How organised of you to keep these things! I interrailed during a similar era and have no mementoes whatsoever. But thanks for taking me back to a time before we all relied on email, internet, pre-booking…

    Will you tell the flute story one day?

    October 28, 2010 at 6:12 am
  8. The flute story? I think that’s one to keep to myself – it’s all rather embarrassing ๐Ÿ™‚ One day, maybe…. but yes, this memento collection was perhaps a from of early blogging. I never collect anything these days (apart from loose change from countries with unusual currencies)

    October 28, 2010 at 7:40 am
  9. jelena #

    Such a nice idea to put these on ๐Ÿ™‚
    When you came to Belgrade in 1988, I was attending the first grade of my primary school there…
    Funnily enough, I visited the Nat. Museum last some 10 years ago and the tickets looked exactly the same as the one you’ve got – not just the ‘design’, but the paper quality as well. Time still moves at a different pace in the Balkans…

    October 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm
  10. I have great memories of my pre-internet first trip to Europe in 1993. A ton of ticket stubs, youth hostel card, my eurail pass (700 bucks for unlimited 2 months of travel in 1993) and of course my Lonely Planet Western Europe guidebook (turned out to be the first edition). Thanks for sharing these. I think the little bits of paper that you can collect along the way are priceless. just stick them in an envelope for each country.

    October 29, 2010 at 4:38 am
  11. Thanks for the comment Jelena – you’ve made me feel very old! ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe the tickets are still the same in 2010?

    Thanks Lisa – a 1st edition LP book? Good job you’ve kept it. Must make for some good reading now – Europe has changed so much since that time (although more in the east than west).

    October 29, 2010 at 11:45 am
  12. Hi Andy – Yes, I was surprised when I looked at my LP book a couple of years ago and realized it was the 1st edition. I should have a look and compare the ’93 writing style to the ’10 writing style. My book was “Western Europe”, they didn’t even include Eastern Europe at that time. I was traveling a bit blind when I went to Prague, but luckily met people in Vienna (with the Let’s Go book including Prague) to travel with of course. Going to Prague was all the talk back then – “you’ve got to see Prague!” was all I heard from Brindisi to Berlin.

    October 29, 2010 at 7:15 pm
  13. Great post, brought back memories for me. With a group of friends I did two interailing trips in the late 80’s. I was talking to someone the other day about the huge Thomas Cook european train timetable we carried with us – it was our bible. Full of arcane symbols and trains that interailers weren’t allowed to travel on – it took us the whole month to figure out how to use it! No checking out the timetable on your iphone in those days. Great days.

    November 9, 2010 at 10:20 am
  14. Ah yes, the TC timetable – what a great book! I think I still have mine somewhere… taught us the art of reading these complex spreadsheets before Excel even existed!

    November 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm
  15. Just loved this post ! I also went inter-railing in 1987 and it brought back the memories of sleeping in a cheap hotel and eating a sandwich OR eating something decent and sleeping on a train (normally in the corridor on the floor); Yugoslavia before the war when we found it hard to spend the money we had changed as it was just SO cheap…doing overnights from Gemany to Italy or Nice to dry out the sopping wet tent….I don’t even remember having much of a guide book, it was just check out the timetables, an old floppy-eared map and see what fitted best really. Great stuff, set me off on independent travel and now over 70 countries later I am still a travel addict….

    November 18, 2010 at 9:10 am
  16. Thanks Kate. Why is it that when you talk to an Inter-rail veteran of the 1980s, you just need to mention the word Yugoslavia and the stories come pouring out. It was a place of legend! Like you, those experiences provided a solid foundation for a lifetime of restlessness ๐Ÿ™‚

    November 18, 2010 at 8:19 pm
  17. I obsessively keep my ticket stubs. Unfortunately, they’re all Eurostar so look identical!

    June 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm
  18. Memories of Yugoslavia is the train just standing still in the middle of nowhere on a single track for around 8 hours – the carriage turned into a sauna! Then we started moving again – all for no apparent reason!

    January 16, 2013 at 11:51 am


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