Ways of seeing Germany while you travel… and travel cheaply at the same time!

by Michelle on August 17, 2014 · 11 comments

rail

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.

Train Travel

photo cred: bayern.by

photo cred: bayern.by

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

photo cred; meinfernbus.de

photo cred; meinfernbus.de

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

800px-Highway_Skopje

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!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

ekaterine abashidze August 17, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Hello there Michelle ! I am a Georgian student and I have just got your site. I have read your articles and I am especially interested in studying abroad – europian free tuition universities. I need some information, because I have never been in Europe. my e-mail is eka.abashidze@gmail.com so it will be very kind if we communicate there. I will be waiting for your reply and tell you what I am exactly interested in, thanks in advance.

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Michelle Michelle August 22, 2014 at 4:46 am

Yep I’ve sent you an email 🙂

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Mike August 18, 2014 at 7:41 pm

I love all of your posts but when you post on Germany there is an extra hop in my Happy Dance, Michelle! Yes, guys can do a happy dance lol. You have the benefit of living there and having seen sooooo much of the country. Gawd, I’ve told you before, how much I envy you. But, for my #1 life long bucket list trip, my first choice/hope is to see it by car. It may end up being on a tour (bus). Yet, if I can arrange the former then I want to be able to stop and see everything on my schedule like you can’t do on a train or bus. I’m hoping an experienced travel friend or heck maybe even a blogger friend might be willing to go for 2 weeks with me when I’m ready. The time keeps getting closer…I will tell you that 🙂

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Michelle Michelle August 22, 2014 at 4:49 am

That’s so cool that Germany is at the top of your bucket list! 🙂 Driving around by car would be awesome too…I’ve sure you know about how German autobahns don’t have a speed limit… 😛 And yes, keep me updated on that! 😀

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Becky Padmore August 22, 2014 at 9:17 am

I love Germany but half my family are there so I maybe biased 😉 Great information!

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Michelle Michelle August 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Thanks! That’s cool! Where are they from? 🙂

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Meiji August 23, 2014 at 12:29 am

Carpooling definitely sounds really fun 😀 I’m used to travel by bus since it’s cheap enough. I’m planning to go to Europe next year and I might try the train at least once, just to have the experience. I’ll definitely wanna try carpooling too! It must be really fun trying to communicate with a bunch of people if they don’t know English and you don’t speak their native language xD

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Michelle Michelle August 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Yes I would recommend trying all those types of transportation at least once! 🙂 Which countries in Europe are you planning on going to? Train travel can be cheap if you look for special offers and book in advance!

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Meiji August 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Oh really?? That’s great to know! I still don’t know where in Europe I’ll be going since I’m still on my planning for my Asian trip this November or December, but I’ll let you know, perhaps you can give me some advices! 😀 Btw, if you know anything about transportation in Japan, Korea and China, I’ll be really grateful!!

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Michelle Michelle August 29, 2014 at 12:26 am

Yea of course! 😀 Once you know where in Europe you’ll be going to, send me an email and I can give you some tips 🙂 Unfortunately I’ve never been to Japan or Korea, but In China I mostly took taxis – it’s pretty cheap and public transit just seemed too crowded and too difficult to figure out!

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Agness August 29, 2014 at 9:46 am

German trains are amazing – always arrive on time and they are very reliable. I took a train from Dusseldorf to Amsterdam last month and it took me less than 2 h to get there. Super fast and I paid only 50 euros!

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