When it comes to travelling in Europe there’s a good chance you’re going to end up travelling by train. It’s a quick, easy, and if you play your cards right, cheap way to travel between both cities and countries. Still, there are plenty of different train companies and travel websites out there, all insisting that they have the best deals. How do you know you’re getting the right one? Well, firstly, you can follow these eight tips.
Tip One: Plan, plan plan
If you’re using a rail pass to conduct your journey it’s a good idea to plan out your journey in advance. It gives you a chance to get the mandatory seat reservations and make sure you know exactly how much you’re going to be spending in advance. This is important, as when you’re travelling by rail last minute changes can result in you being charged change fees and cancellation penalties. Also, passholder reservations become limited closer to the travel time, which means last minute ticket prices are way more expensive. Which brings us to our next tip:
Tip Two: Book early
A lot of travel routes have whopping great discounts if you book far enough in advance. This is particularly the case when you’re using a travel pass and going for seats that have limited availability. However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that those discounted rates may lead to restrictive bookings that don’t allow for much wiggle room when it comes to cancellations or last minute changes.
Tip Three: Compare Point-to-point tickets and passes
Depending on where you want to go and how much the tickets are for each bit of the journey, you may find that a rail pass isn’t actually the cheapest option. It’s possible that simply getting a point-to-point ticket might be the best option. Routes such as London to Paris, or Paris and Brussels can charge more than the usual 8 or 9 euros for seat reservations. With tickets, you don’t have to pay the reservation cost, because it’s part of the cost of the ticket.
Tip Four: Travel overnight
While your travelling you want to spend your days exploring, seeing wonderful sights and having wonderful experiences and taking amusing photos where you use perspective to make it look like you’re toppling over the Leaning Tower of Pisa. So why not save on your daylight hours by travelling while you sleep? What’s more, the overnight trains usually turn out to be a good deal cheaper. It’s win win!
Not only is it more fun if you’ve got a travelling companion to share the sights with, but there are plenty of passes that offer a special Saver rate that gives a discount if you’ve got between two and five people travelling together as a group!
Tip Six: Day trips are your friend
Not everything has to be an epic trek. Sometimes you can use your pass to head out in the morning and get back in the evening, using only one day of your pass. All the big cities have lots of incredible, beautiful little towns between ten minutes and two hours away. It’s a great way to make the most of your travel pass.
Tip Seven: Don’t be afraid of the occasional pit stop
Of course, there are longer journeys to be made as well. But then often it’s all in the journey- why rush from destination to destination when there are so many wonderful places to see in between? If you’re going from Munich to Paris, it’s the perfect chance to stop off in Strasbourg. If you’re head to Berlin from Prague, it’s the perfect chance to stop in on Dresden.
Tip Eight: Keep an eye out for bonuses
Rail services love providing special offers, whether it’s on restaurants, museums, or more travel cards. Keep an eye out for these special offers through sites like this, they’ll either save you money or provide a wonderful new addition to your itinerary!Author Profile: Sam Wright is a journalist and copywriter working with Direct Rail. He has travelled extensively throughout Germany, largely in the search for perfect Spätzle.