Are you attempting a trip around Europe? Getting around Europe is quite affordable, if you do it right. Most people encourage purchasing a continuous train pass to get around the continent, but I wanted to thoroughly investigate all of the options to see if traveling with this pass is indeed the best way. Through some research it seems that there ARE more affordable options of getting around. I’m going to explore four methods of transportation to explore the cheapest way to travel Europe: rail passes, point-to-point train tickets, flights, and buses.
Eurail is the place where most people book continuous train passes. Below are the prices with Eurail.
For a youth pass (Ages 12-25), it would cost $682 USD if you were to travel continuously for a month. For 3 months it would cost $1183, and for a 5 day pass it would cost $339.
For an adult pass (ages 26 or over), it would cost a whopping $1046 USD if you were to travel continuously for a month. For 3 months it would cost $1815. And for the cheapest pass, it would cost $518 for 5 days of travel within 10 days of time.
As you can see, the best value comes from the youth 3 month continuous pass at $1183. If you were averaging at 2-3 nights per place, you’d pay about $26-40 per train ride. This price is only achieved through the best-case scenario, AKA if you were 25 or under, wanting to travel for 3 months, and only staying 2-3 nights per place.
Point-to-Point Train Passes
Individual train passes are good for short trips. Here is a great site with drawn maps that show the cost of each train pass from place to place. I remember spending around $50 for a train ticket from Milan to Venice, Italy – which looking back was actually quite expensive. Though some of the city-to-city passes can be cheap (under $20), train prices are generally much more expensive than other methods of transportation. As you can see from the maps, many of the train passes are around $50 – $100 when traveling country to country.
From my past Europe trip in the fall of 2014, you can see my flights were $40 or less. However, I didn’t realize that a lot of flights can be bought for even less, perhaps half the price with the right planning. Airlines like RyanAir and EasyJet can provide you with a more affordable experience if you’re only bringing carry-ons. With the best case scenario, flight prices can range from as low as $6 to $20 if booked correctly, but more commonly flights will range from $10-40.
Of course, there are disadvantages with budget airlines. Checking in bags will cost a lot more, and you’ll have to be a lot more careful about what you bring as to not pay their exorbitant fees.
Megabus tickets are quite affordable as well, normally ranging from $5 to $20. However, you’ll have to do more work on the Megabus site to research the best prices.
If you’re not concerned with costs and you just want to get from place to place without thinking too much about it, trains are the way to go. The prices for train passes are standard and won’t vary much. With flights and buses, you can get cheaper fares but you’ll have to do some research to obtain the prices.
In my opinion, traveling costs in Europe can add up so I would suggest going the plane/bus route – not to mention that flying reduces transportation time significantly. In my next post, I’m going to outline how to book the cheapest RyanAir flights using their low fare calendar. Let us know if you have any thoughts on better ways to travel affordably!