When travelling there are loads of ways to stick to your budget. Transportation is usually not one of them. Getting somewhere means spending money, but with these tips you can save some and enjoy yourself, while moving to your next destination. Today part II: Trains, buses and boats.
Nothing’s better than spending your precious moments of travel on a moving train. Yes, it’s slow, but the scenery will distract you from that.
Book in advance
Same as flying: book in advance. In Europe you can book 3 months in advance, and it’s proven to be a big money saver. Websites like bahn sometimes offer great tickets for a discount price, but most of them cover only the German region. Also you have to be pretty fast to get them.
If you have to travel for multiple days you can try one of the interrail passes. They have a global pass for visiting most of Europe or a one country pass that you can use to travel around the country you’re in. In some countries it’s cheaper to buy a single train ticket so make sure you know where you’re going with your pass. Also, travelling with this pass is much cheaper for Europeans than travelers overseas, who will need a different pass.
The Balkans have a wonderful card that will give free entrance to many kinds of public transport, and it costs absolutely nothing (almost).
Not a good tip for short trips, but if you have time, this will be a big money saver. A lot of European trains demand reservations which will cost you more. If you travel by domestic trains you avoid reservations and you get to see a bit more of the country you’re in. Most of the time you come across places you didn’t expect beforehand, which makes your trip quite adventurous. The best part of course, is that you get to discover new things without paying too much. A good slow-travelling country would be France.
Book a compartment in a night train and avoid sleeping in a hotel. It saves some money and you’ll arrive at your destination fully rested. Make sure you want to be this adventurous, because you could end up with several people in one compartment. Nevertheless you will be given the opportunity to share food and travel experiences and make friends for life.
Because there are so many different options it’s wise to make an itinerary as a start. These are the steps I took last year:
- Check the countries railway website for timetables and fares
- Compare the single ticket prices to interrail passes (including reservations)
- Compare ticket prices and travel time to travelling by bus
- Compare slow routes to the faster ones
It takes a little bit longer and it might get uncomfortable sometimes, but buses are cheap! Try Eurolines for a cheap city trip or hop on to a local bus. In Eastern Europe, for example, buses are more comfortable than trains and they run often. Last year I took a bus from Kotor (Montenegro) to Sarajevo for 15 euro’s. Yes, I spent all night on the bus and I was completely wrecked when I arrived, but at least I got there cheap.
Work your way there
Besides spending money on transportation, you can also work as a crew member on a boat. There are many websites, like this one, where you can find paid- or volunteer jobs that will get you going. Some positions are paid, but keep in mind you usually need a set of specific skills to get the job. The unpaid positions are much easier and will get you to your destination for free.
If you’re travelling far and you have enough time, this could be a priceless experience: Some shipping companies take travelers on board, but do realise it’s not as cheap as you think (Unless you are comparing prices with one of the many cruises you can make around the world). Usually this way of travelling includes a nice hut, diner with the crew and a few days of complete silence. Please do not expect any on board entertainment, as it is just a containership going in the direction you want to go. Most of the time the people on board are very friendly and like a fresh face around, so expect to make new friends from all over the world. Not quite the budget experience you expected, but a quite, alternative way of travelling.
Because it is such a different way of travelling this is one of the highlights on my bucket list. Find out more at: