Airplanes can be the quickest way to get to your destination, but they can also be the most expensive. Living in London, there are many different airports and airlines to take advantage of, but I’ve found that it can be very difficult.
Tip #1: Use the Google Flights tool.
I’ve found the best deals for airplanes through Google Flights. Most often, I’ll fly RyanAir. Of course, this means getting to an airport two hours away. Make sure to add in the price of transportation to and from the airport into your flight price, as it may be cheaper to get a more expensive flight from a closer airport! In most cases, I’ve still found RyanAir the cheapest and will take a bus or train to the airport.
Tip #2: Use an incognito browser tab.
Depending on what browser you use, it can track the prices of flights you’ve checked and raise them! I always make sure to use an incognito tab on Google Chrome for this reason in order to avoid spiked prices.
Tip #3: Check for hidden fees.
If you’re flying on a cheaper airplane, chances are there will be tons of hidden fees. My top tip is to read the small print for every flight you take. For example, on RyanAir, they will charge you extra if you do not print out your boarding pass before getting to the airport. These fees differ by airline, so make sure to know the hidden fees BEFORE booking your ticket!
Trains are more expensive than buses, but can often be quicker and more effective. Trains are my favorite way to travel, but often times it can be difficult to find one at a cheap price.
Tip #1: Book early.
Train prices fluctuate daily, so make sure to book your train as early as possible. I’ve seen tickets double in price overnight.
Tip #2: Use GoEuro.
This is my favorite website for all transportation, but specifically trains and buses. It will evaluate all forms of transportation and find you the cheapest ticket prices. I highly recommend this website if you do not have a specific company to travel with in mind. GoEuro will help you book through many different companies and make the process easy and painless.
Tip #3: Get to the station early.
While most train tickets will not specify getting to the station as early as a flight, I would recommend having 30 minutes to an hour to find your train. Some train stations can be huge, and other times you have to pick your ticket up at the station. If the gate for your train is not announced upon arrival, that’s okay. Often times train departures will not be announced until 15 minutes before departure. However, it is important to arrive early to avoid any confusion.
I use bus services most frequently as they are the cheapest mode of transportation. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars just by traveling a few more hours by bus. While buses may seem slow, they are price effective and I have found them to be very reliable.
Tip #1: FlixBus and Ouibus are great.
I’ve ridden these bus services many times without issues. If there is a delay, FlixBus will be prompt about texting you. Both times I’ve ridden these bus services, they have gotten me to my destination promptly and efficiently. The drivers are very nice, and I highly recommend these services.
Tip #2: Double check your buses departure and destination.
Unfortunately, there have been many times I’ve booked my bus for the wrong day. Thankfully, companies like FlixBus and Ouibus offer many different buses daily and do not fluctuate in price too much. Make sure to confirm your bus’ confirmation with your driver! I have gotten on the wrong bus before and had to quickly get off in the middle of a highway. Don’t do what I did and avoid this by always showing your driver your ticket, even if he does not ask for it. Buses are great, but you must do your part in making sure the trip goes smoothly.
Tip #3: Overnight buses can save you money.
While the sound of an overnight bus can be daunting, they are often half the price of a train and can save loads of time and money. I’ve taken an overnight bus to Scotland and found that you can still have a good nights sleep on a bus, and conveniently wake up in your destination. Many times, these buses will be filled with other students trying to save money abroad, so you can make some friends as well!
Traveling abroad can be scary and confusing, but by knowing the pros and cons of each form of transportation, it will become much easier with time. After nearly three months of travel abroad, I finally feel confident with my travel abilities (even though I still run into problems at times) and love sharing my travel knowledge with others.
This post was contributed by Samantha Strausser, who is studying abroad this fall with AIFS in London, England.