Railways have been competing with the rise of budget airlines, and therefore have changed their pricing to be much like the airline pricing model. Now they tend to offer cheap prices for travelers who book early, but more expensive if you’re booking last minute. Just like the airlines from the previous post, your prices are going to fluctuate depending on when you book. Tickets usually go on sale 90 days out, and you can find deals such as Rome to Venice for $38, or Paris to Amsterdam for $46.
Europe has a rail system that is cheap and rather good if you plan on travelling a short distance. However, when you want to travel across multiple countries, and boarding night trains, the standard rail system turns out to be more expensive, even costing well over $100.
However, Rail passes are another option for travelers who are taking the trains for long-distance, extensive travel. Rail passes, such as EuRail, are a great way to save money, and definitely a must for people looking to travel long distances. Other travelers have reported saving a few hundred dollars every time they bought a rail pass.
Moral of the story: If you plan on traveling long distances and seeing multiple countries, using a lot of trains, and travelling last minute, a European rail pass is going to save you some cash.
In Europe, typically buses are much cheaper than taking trains. Within Europe, most countries have their own individual national bus system, but Eurolines is a good option for international long distances. Eurolines is the umbrella organization for international bus travel, and they have routes that will take you across the entire continent. If you were to take Euroline from Berlin to Paris, it would cost about $100 USD, but a last-minute booking on the train is $248. Although travelers have reported a downside to bus travel: being cramped. Instead of a much roomier train, you could be cramped on a tiny bus. This one comes down to a personal preference, pay a bit more and get on the train, or stick to a tight budget and hop on the bus.
BlaBlaCar is a very popular and widespread service throughout Europe that allows people to get a ride with locals who are going that way. The website lets you share rides with people, and I have seen a lot of positive reviews regarding pricing, meeting more locals and being able to get off the interstate and see the countryside. Many say that it’s more exciting than taking a bus or train, and it will save you money.
Otherwise, there are websites that let you ask for rides, if you pitch in to pay for gas. Gumtree has shown to be the most popular with backpackers.
As we said in the last post, the cheapest way to get around Europe is by budget airline or bus. But it truly comes down to the planning, for the most part, the earlier you book your ticket, bus/plane/train/anything, the cheaper it will be. Last minute train and bus fares can be double what they are during early booking. Overall, the key to travelling around Europe cheaply is PLANNING. Plan it, book it in advance, and save you some money.
Photo Courtesy Of: [By Yasu (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]