Travelling through Europe is a must on every die hard travellers bucket list but how do you save money travelling? There are so many different countries on this continent, which means different cultures, languages, food and people. It is an amazing experience and one that will really help to open your eyes to the wider world. Another great thing about travelling in Europe is that many of the countries speak at least a bit of English, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed then you’re sure to find someone to help you out.
If you’re trying to stick to a budget and looking to save money travelling whilst searching for the backpacking experience, then you will want to make sure you’re travelling in the most cost-effective way possible. One of the best ways to travel Europe is to take the train. You may be a little bit sceptical about this, but trust us – it’s one of the greatest ways to backpack around this amazing continent.
Unfortunately, if you don’t know what you’re doing then taking the train can cost you more than it should. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for saving money when travelling by train in Europe. Read on!
Type of tickets
The general consensus on train tickets is buying in advance is cheaper than buying on the day. However, how early do you actually need to book to save money?
If you’re backpacking or perhaps on a working holiday then you will want flexibility with your tickets. Unluckily, most advance tickets don’t come with this luxury. For last minute trips, you will have no choice but to book on the day, or at least a couple of days in advance. However, if you know what your itinerary is going to be – the earlier you book the better!
For instance, if you know that you have to travel to a certain place for a certain day then we would recommend that you book your ticket as soon as you have these dates confirmed. This is perfect for cross-country trips, or even trips to other countries.
Most countries start selling train tickets 2-3 months in advance, but anything over a month should still allow you to find a good price.
- Saying this, there are a few countries where it makes no difference as to whether you buy on the day or in advance. The Netherlands and Switzerland are two of these countries, so if you’re going to have a spontaneous trip – try and make it here!
Two tickets or one?
Depending on the kind of trip that you’re taking, you may need to change at different stations to get to your destination. Normally when you look online, it will give you one ticket to get you from A to B – regardless of changes.
However, this can actually be a more expensive way of doing things. Sometimes, it pays to research the different routes available and buy two different tickets. One from A to B and then one from B to C. It’s more work than just letting the websites do the work for you, but if you’re on a budget then this method can actually save you plenty of money!
While we’re on the subject – do you purchase a one-way or return ticket? In the UK, a return ticket is almost always cheaper than buying two singles. This isn’t always the case however, so it’s always worth checking out the deal with singles vs return tickets. Sometimes two singles are better – so always do your research!
There are two schools of thought when it comes to buying a Eurorail pass. For those who are 25 or under they offer huge discounts, which means you can travel for far cheaper. However, for those older than 25 the savings aren’t that great. Sometimes it does still work out cheaper – it all depends on where you want to go and the kind of travelling you want to do
The best thing about the Eurorail pass is the flexibility it offers people backpacking around Europe. It allows you to get off and on the train whenever you want. This means that you can explore places that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It also means that you can stay for a day or longer – as you have no train commitments to make.
Night trains often come highly recommended from experienced travellers as a great way to save money. This is also true if you factor in accommodation too – as you won’t be spending money on hostels or other places to stay.
However, many people have had their fair share of horror stories when it comes to getting night trains. If you’re thinking about getting a night train, then please make sure that you check the conditions of the train beforehand. Otherwise you run the risk of getting stuck trying to sleep in some pretty awful conditions.
That being said, most of the night trains in Europe are great and a really unique way to travel. If you choose to travel via these trains, then you tend to spend the night travelling, asleep and wake up in a new destination each morning. Perfect for those who don’t actually enjoy the travelling portion of backpacking and are more about the destination. It’s also great for longer journies such as those from country to country, or for crossing across larger countries such as Germany.
There’s no right or wrong way to travel around Europe. However, if you’re trying to save money travelling, and want to travel on a budget, then hopefully you will find these tips really helpful. Do you have any other train travel tips? Let us know!