Travel Hacks: How to Travel Cheaply in Germany
During my Year Abroad in Germany I aimed to visit a new place every weekend and usually I was successful! My Semester ticket allowed me free transportation so long as I stayed within the confines of Nordrhein Westfalen, but when stepping outside of the state, things began to get rather more expensive.
I am constantly on the search for cheap means of travel, being the bargain hunter I am and travelling on a rather limited budget, so I refused to pay the humongous fees that many of the train companies were charging. So in this post, I aim to share with you how you, too, can pack your bags and travel within Germany without worrying about the effect it will have on your purse strings.
1. Bus Companies
Travelling by coach throughout Germany is a relatively new thing, only being introduced at the end of 2013. The introduction of these coach companies have reduced travel costs dramatically, as let’s face it, travelling by train on a regular basis in Germany is not particularly affordable. Now, there are a number of bus companies out there on the web, all offering great deals but three of my favourites have to be Meinfernbus, EuroLines and Flix Bus, who offer an enormous number of destinations and competitive ticket prices.
Cheap Fares: With a return ticked from Düsseldorf to Frankfurt from only €16, you can’t really go wrong!
Free WiFi & Power Sockets: Essential for long journeys!
Comfy Seats & Leg Room: Important for those of us with long legs and everyone wants a comfy seat.
Onboard Refreshments: In case you don’t have time to grab a snack before you board
Time: Obviously it takes slightly more time to get to your destination, as opposed to InterCity trains
Pick Up Location: I’ve found that this varies from company to company, but some of the drop off/ pick up points aren’t in the city centre which can be problematic if you aren’t entirely sure where you’re going.
Crowded: Due to the ridiculously cheap fares, the buses tend to be packed out. But in fairness, I think there is enough room to still be comfortable.
2. Car Sharing
Although personally not having done this myself (yet), I have heard nothing but praise for websites such as Mitfahrgelegenheit and BlaBlaCar. A lot of my German friends use these websites and it seems that everyone undergoes a series of questions, as well as security measures to ensure there is no risk involved. You can even contact the driver before the journey and you can input preferences as to whether you want a male/ female driver etc. Definitely something I am up for trying, but first time around, I think I’d want to be travelling with someone else.. just to be on the safe side!
3. Deutsche Bahn
I know I’ve just mentioned that the cost of train tickets in Germany are pretty extortionate – let’s use my example of Düsseldorf to Frankfurt with a return ticket checking in at €150 – but if you book up far enough in advance, know where to look and depending on where exactly you are travelling, then sometimes you can be lucky enough to bag yourself a bargain.
Deutsche Bahn offer a number of offers, from Saver fares (Sparpreisen) to Regional Tickets, and for those who are more permanently based in Germany there are also the various BahnCards, which after an initial payment reduce your fares significantly. I didn’t bother investing in a BahnCard myself because the tickets were still more expensive than those of the bus companies mentioned above even with the reductions, but I know some people don’t like bus travel, so perhaps this is something for you.
Also all the German states (Bundeslaende) offer their own regional tickets. In NRW, they offer a Schöner Tag Ticket (Nice Day Ticket) for EUR 39,50, which is valid every day of the week and allows up to five people to travel on it – working out at EUR 7,90 per person. It’s definitely worth checking out the various types of tickets before travelling; there might be one relevant to you!
If you have any tips for travelling on a budget throughout Germany, I would love to hear them!
Let me know in the comment section below!