Monday, March 24, 2014

Cheap Travel, German Style

Spring is a upon us and soon, the streets will soon be teeming with tourists from far and wide, looking for a fun and adventure. If you would like to be one of them and are looking to stretch your limited budget, here's a few tips to bring down your transportation costs.

If you want to travel within Germany's borders with several accomplices, one of your cheapest options will be rail. One of the numerous discounts available through the national train service, DB Bahn, is the Bayern ticket, which allows multiple people to travel on the same ticket, throughout Bavaria. The more people that travel, the lower each person's ticket costs, with up to four people paying 8.75 euros per person. It also covers local transport, including buses. When my friends and I traveled to a tiny German town about three hours out of Munich for a Thanksgiving dinner in a countryside cabin, the Bayern ticket helped to bring the cost of travel and lodgings to less than 100 euros per person for a three day weekend.

Bayern baby! Photo: Ashley Lovell

And the savings that DB Bahn offers is not just limited to Bavaria. The company also has similar tickets for all parts of Germany and is currently running a special to many European cities, including Amsterdam, Paris, and Vienna, for just 39 euros. 

If trains are still a little too rich for your blood, the next cheap option is bus. 

Berlin's central bus station

Pictured is one of the many discount bus lines serving Germany, Meinfern Bus. Even if you need to book and travel on the same day, you can usually find cheap prices, like from Munich to Berlin for only 18 euros. Plus, there's free wifi on all their buses and snacks for sale, including beer, if you're unable to pick something up before you board. 

For bus travel out of Germany, I've had really good experiences with Eurolines. They also have free wifi on most of their buses, but they give you a free snack and bottle of water. The only draw back with them is you have actually print up your ticket, unlike Meinfern, which gives you the option of downloading a PDF of your ticket to your smart phone. 

When I wanted to travel to Copenhagen over the Christmas break and all flights were coming in at well over 100 euros, I used Meifern to get me from Munich to Berlin, and Eurolines to take me the rest of the way. I spent a full day traveling, but I only paid 30 euros doing it. 

Another bus option is Berlinlinien. They have prices that are similar to Eurolines when looking for international travel and low prices for trips within Germany. But for you to get the best rates, you will need to book your trip about seven days in advance. 

If buses and trains are still pushing you to the limits of your budget, your last option, that I know of, is a rideshare. If you can find people that are traveling in the same direction as your destination, you can offer to split the cost of gas with several other travelers. A great website you should checkout is Carpooling. Obviously, such a method has several drawbacks, the main one being that you are at the mercy of other people's schedules. You'll have to find people that are not only going where you're going, but they also have to be leaving when you want to leave. But if your dates are flexible and the savings that attractive, then go for it.

I will admit, all of these options will add significant time to your trip. Rather than spend more than twelve hours sitting on my butt when I went from Munich to Copenhagen, I gave myself an extended layover and spent the night with a friend in Berlin. But I love traveling and part of the adventure is actually getting to my destination. So a good soundtrack and plenty of treats were enough to keep me happy. And when you're in a position were every cent counts, I'd rather pay for my way in patience than cash. Happy travels!

No comments:

Post a Comment