The first time I went to Europe was four years ago when I did a mini Eurotrip by train. Train travel seemed like the most obvious way to get around Europe since that’s how it’s always done in movies, books, and hey, if it’s good enough for Ernest Hemingway…
Now I am living in Germany, and I have to admit, travelling by train is still my favourite form of transportation.
It is such a nice way to travel. There’s just something wonderfully romantic about this way of travelling from one city to the next, and being able to view the countryside in between. Aside from admiring the landscape, you also have the options of listening to music, reading a book, writing your own book or perhaps striking up a conversation with your cute seat partner (which could very well turn into a Before Sunrise moment). Obviously train travel is wonderful.
If you find some special deal, then the combination of travel value you get out of it and the cheapness often makes it the best option. Unfortunately, it also can be pretty expensive in relative terms. It can easily cost twice as much as other forms of transportation in Germany, such as bus travel for example (it may not be as classy but with the money you save on transportation, you’ll definitely have enough for a fancy cocktail…or five!)
Coach bus travel
Bus travel is my favourite form of budget travel. Budget travel that is consistently cheap. It’s so convenient especially now that it seems like new bus companies and bus lines just pop up all over Germany everyday. It feels like everyone and their dog is opening up a bus company somewhere in this country. And with all the competition, the prices are significantly cheaper than by train or almost any other form of transportation for that matter.
For example, comparing various modes of travel and cost through the GoEuro travel search site, you can see that a last minute train ride from Munich to Berlin costs around 79 euros, by plane it’s 139 euros, and by bus it’s only 15-21 euros! This gives you a pretty clear idea of the benefits of bus travel in the context of wanting to save money on travelling, while at the same time being able to see something of the country and landscape while doing so.
Travel by Car pooling
I’ve never hitchhiked before so I can’t vouch for how well that works out, but carpooling is really popular in Germany with a similar concept. There are several websites (the most popular is mitfahrgelegenheit) that are set up for people to search a city they wish to go to, and find drivers who are headed in that direction. Although it’s not free (drivers will list on the site how much they charge for the distance they drive you), it’s much safer and reliable than hitchhiking since the drivers are verified, and some sites have a cancellation policy where if the driver ends up being a no show, they will compensate you for a train ticket to get to your destination.
I’ve used mitfahrgelegenheit many times to get around Germany. The only thing I have to say is that it’s always a bit awkward sitting in a car with a bunch of random Germans when my German skills are not the best but sometimes it can be pretty entertaining. The best part is that a trip that would cost 20 euros by train would only cost a quarter of the price!
How do you guys like to travel around Germany? Which method of transportation do you guys prefer? Feel free to weigh in with your answers below!