From Plane to Train: Money Saving Tips for Travelling Europe

By: Courtney Hall, a first year public relations student and avid traveler | Wednesday, March 2, 2016

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Plane

If wings were cheap, we’d all own a pair. Be smart and be patient when booking a flight. Read the fine print and don’t rush it; having to change details after booking travel can be costly.

 

Skyscanner: first thing’s first, you need the Skyscanner app, download it and I’ll wait here. Got it? Great. This app is your best bet for finding the cheapest flights worldwide. This is especially useful for travelling Europe, where there are too many airlines to follow, including small budget airlines that are easily overlooked. Skyscanner gives you the ability to compare fares, airlines and airports. I stayed open-minded and would solely choose my next destination based on Skyscanner’s cheapest destination.

 

International Airports: buyer beware that international airports can be more expensive to fly into depending on the country. For example, London airports Stanstead and Gatwick are significantly cheaper to fly to or from than Heathrow. Small airlines tend to fly from small airports that are slightly out of the city. However, I found that most of these airports have shuttles to take travelers to the nearest city.

 

Airlines: if you use Ryanair and easyjet, you’re set. There is nothing fancy about either of these airlines, but they will provide the cheapest service for travel anywhere in Europe granted your backpack is the size of a carryon.

 

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Train

Think of it as a comfy seat to admire the scenery. By choosing to train, you are able to experience your transition from country-to-country in a cheaper and memorable way.

Eurail: can sometimes be expensive if booked last minute; be sure to book ahead for cheapest rates. Eurail offers discounted passes between three and 28 countries. These can be beneficial if you are travelling European countries over a short period of time. However, don’t limit yourself, check out Megabus or download the app. Megabus tickets start from €1, and are ideal for the traveler’s wallet, but not for a tight schedule. Buses can take four times the travel time compared to a train, I always used that time to plan my next trip.

Location of stations: trains are meant for convenience. Typically stations are located in the most central part of the city. For instance, one can travel from central London to central Paris by train in 2.5 hours.  When travelling Europe, a Ryanair flight may appear to be cheaper, but you must consider time and cost of getting to the airport and allotting time for check-in.

Save on accommodation: accommodation is not always cheap in countries with high tourism, but you can save by training to your next destination overnight. Booking a one-way night train is a smart way to save on a night’s accommodation. Granted you manage to get some sleep, you will wake up in a new country bright and early.

Time to plan: most trains have free Wi-Fi, which gives you the ability to plan and book on the go. When backpacking, don’t limit yourself to a tight itinerary. You will meet new people who could change your course quickly. Use your train travel time to book accommodation and plan sightseeing while you’re on the way.

backpacker

If you’re reading this blog and are nervous about travelling, take my advice, the advice of a solo traveller. It will change your life. I learned more things about myself in the first two months than people do in their entire lives.

Ask yourself; if not now, then when?

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