Budget Travel in Germany: Sabina Talks About A Student’s Options

Sabina talks about how she travels around Germany and the choices a student faces when last minute train fares maybe too expensive.

As a student I’m always interested in finding new ways to save money on tickets.  If I want to travel from Cologne to Stuttgart for example, I have two options: I can either use the train or travel in a private car share (in Germany this is known as “Mitfahrgelegenheit”).

The latter is often cheaper and I don’t have to buy my ticket weeks ahead, (it’s non-binding and therefore the better option for spontaneous trips). Car sharing is roughly €40 return, whereas by train it would cost me €40 Euros each way, and this is despite the fact I have a Bahncard 25 – so as a student, you quickly come to your decision, so, most of the time I go for the private mitfahrgelegenheit.

Although I never had any seriously bad experiences, I would sometimes just prefer taking a bus.

BUT here is the problem; there is no real national bus line in Germany.

Compared to other European countries, Germany lacks a national coach and bus company which connects German cities with each other. On holidays in Ireland, Scotland or Italy I mostly moved around the country by bus and experienced it as a cheap and comfortable way of travelling around.
I once searched for something comparable here in Germany. I found two bus lines that offer national connections, “Touring (Eurolines)” and the “BerlinLinienBus”.  Touring has one line that serves a route from somewhere North to somewhere South. About the Berlin thing I`m not sure anymore, but I think it was always from xy to Berlin or the other way around. And I think to remember, that I somewhere read that a national bus transfer in Germany is not allowed because it would be a too big business competition to the DB!?! I think to remember that this argument was based on an act from the 1930s, or at least from a long long time ago.
This is really weird, isn’t it? And it is for me another point that is annoying about Deutsche Bahn! If this is true, I can’t believe the high prestige position of DB in Germany.

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One Response to “Budget Travel in Germany: Sabina Talks About A Student’s Options”

  1. Kristina Klingner November 5, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    Sabina is right, bus companies here in Germany are forbidden by law. But I recently (beginning of 2010) read an article that specifically some bigger bus companies that want to get in that business are talking to the government regarding this issue and that there might be a chance for bus lines as known in about every other European country by 2011.
    Sabina mentioned the Berlin based company BerlinLinienBus, it is a big one with pretty good offers, but just like with the DB you need to book about 4 months ahead PLUS be lucky to get a ticket for 9 EUR from Berlin to Hamburg (about 200km) or 19 EUR to go to Munich.
    I myself am a student in Germany and I had a Bahncard 50 for my first year at university, I had to travel from Saarbrucken to Berlin (800km) which would have been 120 EUR one way without any discount, this card gave 50% discount, so one return right home already paid off – to get the card a student had to pay 100 EUR back then. After one year though I got rid off it again, because it usually took me 10 hrs to get home, just wayyyyyy too long. Thanks to germanwings there soon was a muche asier, faster and comfortable way for me to go to Berlin, 19 EUR, 4 hrs all together, free parking at the airport for as long as you wish, what did I want more as a student??
    And I also definitely agree with Sabina on that private car share habit of German students, I’ve been doing that for about 3 years by now and it is the cheapest thing in the world! You meet (usually) nice people, PLUS get paid for work you would be doing anyway :)

    Bottom line: as long as there are cheap airlines as Germanwings and the webistes as http://www.mitfahrgelegenheit.de, DB has not to worry to get any students as new customers.

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