Tuesday 23 June 2015

How To: Travel In Europe On A Budget

Travelling isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Especially with money being so tight thanks to the economy among other situations. Whether you are on the minimum wage (or just over it) or earning a decent salary you can still get some really good deals. Due to our financial situation as a couple and as individuals not being stable, we’ve had to adapt and find other solutions to be able to have those visits.

The most complicated thing about finding affordable travel in Europe (this can apply for other continents too) is finding one that fits within a price range of under £100. You can get many good deals with flights and trains, but sometimes even the most simplest form of travel is overlooked: coaches. Sure, they’re not always the most comfiest and people are usually turned off by sitting in one place for numerous amount of hours but isn’t that what most international couples have to do regardless? I know many couples who live further than across mainland Europe and those couples have had to go via routes that don’t allow them to even stretch their legs other than up and down the plane aisles. This problem gives coach travelling some leverage. Depending on the coach company and the schedule, a coach driver will and be happy to allow you to stretch your legs outside of the coach for a few minutes during a scheduled stop - that’s if the coach is running on schedule. There are also other opportunities for you to stretch your legs during a coach trip. For example, say if you are travelling from Antwerp (or any other European destination) to London and you have to go via ferry/tunnel. You can take advantage of this as when you are on the ferry, all passengers are required to go the main deck. This allows you to wrinkle out all the tightness in your legs, you can get warm food and beverages. You can even get in some extra phone/gadget charging or grab a sofa and snooze for the duration that it takes to get from Calais to Dover!

Of course, the one disadvantage of coach travel is that it’s not as quick as air travel is. By that I mean, for Davy to reach me from Amsterdam to Plymouth it takes him around 20-23 hours. That’s with getting a coach from Amsterdam with a connecting coach from London to Plymouth as well as then a hour train to my town. This is one of the things that really puts people off just sitting in a coach. But I think if you really want to get somewhere for cheap then it’s probably one of the better options. Coaches now are much more comfier, some even having services that have beds on (Megabus Gold) for overnight journeys (depends on the destinations selected of course) but more or less, they will have comfier seats and electric charger sockets next to them enabling you to use your electronics throughout your journey! Long gone are the days of being cramped up on a bus being completely bored. This way you can still keep communicating with your loved ones! Just make sure you have an affordable data roaming package so you don’t incur any extra and unexpected charges - or get a “pay as you go” simcard that is just for travelling between borders and to update your other half, family and friends. As well as being able to keep in contact with family, coach travelling allows you to take plenty of food with you for the journey whereas on air travel, you’re limited. Just be aware that warm food is unlikely to be allowed on the coach, so make sure you have plenty of sandwiches filled with your favourite fillings and snacks as well as bottles of water/drink of choice (excluding alcohol). The only coach company I’m aware of that doesn’t allow food or drink whatsoever on your journey is Eurolines (although this may have changed in the time we went to use them), and in this case they’ll probably make a stop at a service station so you can eat and re-hydrate to your stomach’s content. Just make sure you get back on the coach in time! Please remember to always check the website of the coach company you’re travelling with, as they should have a “conditions of carriage” and/or a FAQ page for costumers that should tell you what is prohibited on board.

That’s my case of why you should at least try giving coach travel a try if you can’t afford flying on a plane or train. And I mean some train journeys can be expensive. Even ones within the same country. For example, for a train journey from London to my town in the south west of England it could range between £59 to £199 (if you’re wanting to travel a bit more comfortably). Now, the price ranges for coach companies vary when it comes to cheap travel. The key to getting the best deal with coaches is to book in advance. And I mean, perhaps a month or two in advance. As the way coach travel works, is with each ticket sold, the prices for tickets on that journey will become more expensive. Say, if you want to book a journey a week away….that journey will be considerably more expensive than one that is booked a month before. And don’t forget that prices fluctuate depending on the holiday seasons. If it’s in the summer, chances are that the prices are going to be higher compared to when all the children are still at school. So if you want to be smart, book your trip when there are no bank holidays or known holidays like the “six weeks holidays” we get in between the school years ending/starting.

Davy and I have looked up some destinations within Europe and the UK. Below is a table of journeys we found on Megabus, just to give you a good idea of how the prices fluctuate between destinations within the UK to then destinations from UK to Europe or between mainland Europe cities. Please do remember that these prices were checked in June 2015 for journeys that were travelling between July and August and may not be accurate at the time of someone reading this and that the price really does come down to your own travelling itineraries and the destinations you’re travelling from and to. Journey prices listed are for one person and each Megabus journey has a booking fee of 50p. For a bigger look at the table, please click on the table.

If you noticed, we have two journeys listed for London > Cologne. The first journey is just a simple from A to B journey. Whereas if you wish to have a little break in between, for a little extra money spent you can spend a few hours in the city of Amsterdam. To do it this way, you just add London > Amsterdam and then Amsterdam > Cologne into your basket. If you do take up the second option, there is a tram line right next to the stop at Zuiderzeeweg which will take you straight into the city. What a way to entertain yourself during travelling and to stretch your legs whilst taking in some sights right!? Just make sure not to do anything naughty on your time between coaches…Also please make sure that if you do have any connections between trips, that you check you have enough time between them so you get to see your loved one on time! And don’t forget your passport! ;)

Of course, if you want to stick to air travel there is always Ryanair. Just by a simple search on their website, you can find some pretty cheap deals across Europe. You can customise your journey by using their filtered search on their fare finder.

So there is our suggestion for cheaper travel between European cities. Do keep in mind that these are merely suggestions and that this was written based off our own experiences and research when booking and arranging travel. We’re happy for people to suggest their own little tricks and tips for saving money on travelling in an LDR. Whether you’re in Europe or on other sides of the world, all suggestions and comments are welcome! We hope this post helps you and your loved ones. Whether you’re in an LDR or simply needing affordable travel for a holiday!

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