There are loads of different ways to travel across Europe, both within countries and across borders. Budget airlines abound, and there are numerous rail, coach, and bus routes. There are also ferry and boat services connecting places close to the coast or major rivers.
But how can you move around cheaply?
This guide will help you to plan your European travels if cost is your primary focus:
Buses in Europe
There are loads of different bus companies around Europe, with the main stations often being within city centres, or just on the outskirts. Whilst they usually take a fair bit longer than the trains, and can be held up because of traffic jams, inclement weather, and poor road conditions, etc, they are typically the cheapest way to travel. Whilst you may still encounter some older style buses, most today are pretty modern and comfortable, with onboard toilets and Wi-Fi. Prices for bus tickets are usually pretty constant, so whether you book your journey months or in advance or an hour before you plan to leave, you will pay the same price. They are a great way to travel with complete flexibility. Many companies have online booking facilities, meaning that you no longer need to turn up at the station or visit a travel agent to buy your ticket. It’s really convenient! Some of the major operators include Eurolines, with wide-covering services, and the really cheap Megabus. Each company also has a variety of operators that run on internal routes.
Trains in Europe
Europe has really decent rail coverage, and the main advantages of trains over buses are that they are usually a fair bit quicker and they can also be a lot more comfortable – for a start, it is easier to walk around and stretch your legs on a train! Added extras like dining carriages add to the overall appeal of train travel. To get the best bargains on train tickets though you really need to try and book as far in advance as possible. If possible, try and check other station that are on your route or close by – you may be surprised by the savings that you can make by using a different station! You can check almost all routes and fares online, as well as being able to purchase your tickets online. Seat61 is a terrific place to begin your research. There are both day and night trains and you will probably find that rail travel is one of the most convenient and comfortable ways to get around the continent.
Flights in Europe
With more and more budget airlines serving the continent, flying can be a really good way of getting around if you are not bothered at seeing places on the way. Keep the costs down as much as you can by booking in advance, taking only cabin baggage, printing your own boarding cards via the self-check-in facility, and not paying extra for onboard meals etc. It also pays to eat before you arrive at an airport – airport refreshments are usually really pricey! Keep in mind, however, that many of the low cost carriers don’t actually fly into airports in the city centres – many of them use airports that are a fair distance outside of the cities. Make sure that you factor in the extra costs of travelling overland to actually get into the city. Also, if you are arriving on a late flight, you may also need a place to stay before you even make it to your final destination. Check times and distances before deciding that flying is the cheapest and best option for you – you may find that ultimately your journey costs quite a bit more than you first thought and that you don’t really save yourself that much time!