What do I get?
After you’ve completed a year’s service, you’ll be able to take advantage of free and discounted travel in much of Europe – and also Northern Ireland. To claim this, you’ll need to register for a FIP card online – you won’t get it unless you fill out this short form. Once you’ve got it, it’ll automatically renew.
As with your priv card, the FIP card gets you a discount on walk-up fares on most major European railways. Generally, you’ll get 50% off – but some countries (such as France, Belgium and Ireland) give you 75% off. Be aware that they’re rarely valid for cross-border journeys.
Travel on Eurostar
Fancy heading to Europe? You’ll need to get there first! Luckily, FIP gets you access to incredibly cheap flat-fare tickets – a single from London to Paris is just £34.50, Amsterdam is only £44.50. These can only be booked through specialist travel agents (like Rail Canterbury) or in person at the Eurostar ticket office at St Pancras International.
Free travel in Europe
To get free travel, you can apply for coupons (from the same page that you got your FIP card from), these work a bit like an InterRail ticket. Each coupon will entitle you to at least two calendar days of free travel but some allow significantly more.
Using a coupon is very easy. All you need to do is enter the date of travel in the box printed on the coupon before boarding the train. Your coupon will then be valid for near-unlimited travel until 2359 the day after. You can use the remaining boxes in the same way.
Coupons need to be ordered at least six weeks in advance of travel and require an estimated travel date. You don’t have to stick to this date, but your coupon won’t be valid before then.
You’re not obliged to use coupons (in fact, not every country offers them) – you can still use your FIP card to buy discounted tickets, even when your coupon for that country has been used up or has expired.
Be aware that many European railways aren’t as liberal as Britain’s – many services require a reservation in order to travel, which usually incurs a fee. You can make these from the UK through a specialist travel agent, or you can do this at a station while abroad. That said, reservations can sell out quite quickly.