The Eurail Pass
I bought a Eurail pass for 5 trips to be used within a month and paid $420, an average of $84 per trip. On top of this I had to pay an extra $17 for a seat reservation for a second- class seat. If I wanted to sit with my daughter in First Class (who had purchased single tickets for much cheaper than $84), I would have to pay an extra $57 for a seat reservation.
To make matters worse, I didn’t get to use my five days of travel because the trains weren’t running. Flooding had washed away tracks in Spain and here were strikes in France, so I had to fly. With so little notice of booking a flight, I had to pay top dollar. So my train travel on the Eurail pass for 3 trips cost $157 each for a total of 9 hours travel. So all in all, my travel experience with Eurail was not great.
Book single train trips
If you know your itinerary and your accommodation is locked in, for the cheapest fares, book your train as far ahead as possible. Some countries allow 6 months ahead, but most are 3 months.
Use the Trainline app
Choose your date of travel and Trainline will give you all the trains available on that day with all the different prices. There can be a huge difference in price for different times of the day. Trainline can also calculate multiple trips on the same day. Just put in your starting point and your destination, and book your entire trip.
In England, the app uses a combination of trains and Tubes and tells you where to change, and how much time you have to change. If you miss the connection or are early, the staff allow you to get on another train so you don’t have to stress.
Take the bus
I swore I’d never catch a bus but I had to eat my words this trip. A bus sometimes was the cheapest, fastest method of travel from A to B. And the bus drivers were lovely. Book ahead. I made a mistake and booked 5.20am instead of 5.20pm. When I realised my mistake, I asked a bus driver and he just said, “hop on.” It was a 2.00pm bus, and suited me perfectly. A great start to my trip.
Use the metro
It’s really cheap and quick in most cities. The hardest part is finding the stations. St Petersburg has the deepest metro in the world. The deepest station is 86 metres below ground!
If you must take a taxi, get a quote before you get in the cab. Even so, this is no guarantee of price. When I arrived in St Petersburg, it was pouring rain, I had an injured leg and couldn’t walk, and I couldn’t get my phone to work so I caught a cab. He quoted me $50 Australian. When I checked my credit card statement, it was $138! What a ripoff!
If you don’t want to use the metro, but like the convenience of a taxi, try Uber, Bolt, Cabify, Yandex.Taxi, Olacabs or Gett. You’ll need to check what each city has. Bolt was my favourite. For an even cheaper alternative, try ride sharing. I used Blablacar in France and loved it.
For more tips on budget travelling, go to Baby Boomers’ Budget Travel