Are you 18 years old and a citizen of the European Union? Do you love to travel and explore new cultures? Do you want to embark on an “eye-popping experience”? If yes, then the “Discover EU Travel Pass” is undoubtedly going to be your best companion!
What is the Discover EU initiative?
Discover EU is an exciting initiative of the European Union (EU) which offers young people the wonderful opportunity of travelling across Europe. The scheme is based on an European Parliament proposal aiming to allow young Europeans to travel across the EU by taking advantage of the freedom of movement in the EU. This initiative will let the young people experience the rich European history, culture, heritage and diversity. What is most exciting is it allows one to connect with people from all over the continent. Overall, the participants will be able to indulge in great learning experiences and enriched cultural exchanges, by being exposed to a multicultural diversity.
The eminent German politician, Manfred Weber, came up with the idea of this amazing travel scheme. He strongly believed that encouraging young people to travel plays a very important role in breaking down cultural barriers. It undoubtedly builds up a more inclusive and enlightened generation who get to experience Europe in a ‘wholesome’ manner.
The first round of the scheme was inaugurated in 2018, which had offered around 15,000 free Interrail Passes. It was a huge success. The latest round (Round 5) has been unfortunately postponed for the time being because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The travel dates for this year are yet to be announced.
As a part of the scheme, successful applicants are awarded with ‘Discover EU Travel Pass’ and have to travel by rail. However, to ensure the widest possible access, the project also offers alternative transport modes like coaches and ferries. Also, in exceptional cases, travel by plane is permitted so that applicants living in remote areas or on islands can also participate in the experience.
Now, can you imagine what is the biggest perk of this whole initiative?
The scheme offers FREE Interrail Pass for Discover EU Travel. Doesn’t it sound really exciting?
Read below to know more about the eligibility criteria, the application process and all other necessary details!
One can apply for the Travel Pass if they fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
- Be 18 years old on 30 June 2020 (Young people who are born between July 1st 2001 and June 30th 2002)
- Be a citizen of one of the EU Member States
- Possess a current ID or Passport Number
- Be willing to become a Discover EU Ambassador and document the travel experience on social media or in the form of school presentations
How to receive the FREE Interrail Pass?
Every year application windows open at a certain point of time. Once the application opens, you can follow the following steps to apply for the Interrail Pass:
Visit the European Youth Portal. You will come across a user-friendly online application form.
Firstly, the applicants need to pass an eligibility check, where you need to fill in the details of your date of birth and nationality. Once you pass the eligibility check, you need to provide a valid email address and mention if you want to travel alone or with your group of friends (maximum 5 people). If one chooses to travel with friends, then a new group application can be created. Additionally, one can join an existing group application as well. For this, you will need a joining code from the original applicant who started that particular group application.
Secondly, once the email address is verified, the applicants will have to fill out the application form. You will need to provide detailed personal information like gender, occupation, disability requirements (if any), etc.
Thirdly, this step is very interesting, and one will enjoy this part of the entire application process. In this step, you need to answer 5 Multiple-Choice Questions on EU General Knowledge. You will also need to answer a subsidiary question. This entire step is the most important because applicants get selected up to the available budget and ranked according to their answers.
Last but not the least, in this step, you need to submit the initial trip details. Keep in mind that this step is NOT BINDING and WILL NOT HAVE ANY IMPACT on the Selection Process. In this step, the data is collected solely for statistical and project improvement purposes. You can come across some basic travel-related queries like the following-
- The tentative start date of the journey
- Learning expectations from the experience
- Sources of financing the trip
Application Successful! Now what?
If your application is successful, the concerned authority will contact you to confirm the travel plans. You will have to choose either of the following options:
If you choose this, you will get a Global 30 Days Interrail Pass. Now, my personal recommendation will be choosing this one. This Pass allows you to remain flexible as to where you want to go and when. You must make any sort of early train reservations through the Interrail App or simply at the train station. This Global pass will allow rail travel within Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey and Great Britain. It also allows travel on some trains which pass through Monaco and Liechtenstein. It also enables some ferry crossings between Greece and Italy.
This option is a bit restrictive as it allows you to travel a maximum of 2 countries. You need to even provide the exact dates and time of the journey that you would like to embark on within the 30 days window. This option will be viable only for selective EU countries and not all. If you plan to visit Malta or Cyprus which will need flight transportation, this could be a good option. Also, if you want to visit countries which are not a part of the Interrail Scheme like Estonia and Latvia, this is again a good option.
For both the travel options, you can travel for up to ONE MONTH.
**Please Note** that at times, you can also combine fixed and flexible travel tickets if your travel plans need so! You need to contact your contractor who will be arranging the booking for further information.
When is the next round of application?
The next round of application will open as early as possible. We all know that because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, lots of travel restrictions are at place. But as soon as the conditions in Europe permit the resumption of the project, the new round of application will start. Just keep an eye on the Discover EU website and the social media pages (Check the links at the end of the article).
Are you a Travel Pass winner from the latest round? Are you worried about the delayed travel? Do not worry! Discover EU has extended the travel period until 31st August 2021. All you need to do is to wait patiently for the team to contact you and guide you through the next steps as soon as possible! In the meanwhile, do not forget to sketch your travel itinerary in the most adventurous and fun way!
- Do not forget to regularly check the updates on the official website of the European Youth Portal at https://europa.eu/youth/
- Stay updated and connected with the Discover EU Team on their social media platforms. Follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?url=https%3A%2F%2Feuropa.eu%2Fyouth%2Fdiscovereu&text=DiscoverEU and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/youdiscoverEU/
- Join the Facebook Group of Discover EU at https://www.facebook.com/groups/245370079553195/?ref=share . Here, you can get connected with past years’ applicants who are always eager to share their amazing experiences.
So, why don’t you gift yourself a Discover EU FREE Interrail Travel Pass on your 18th Birthday? Sounds like a really exciting self-present! Isn’t it? Also, wouldn’t this be the best possible way to celebrate your 18th Birthday? Do not forget to apply for one as soon as the application process starts!
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