One of the factors that drew me to Germany for my study abroad experience was its location. Germany shares boarders with various countries, and I want to see the world. I want to experience other cultures, other foods, meet other people, etc. The real question is not where I am going to travel, but how am I going to affordably get there?
My first weekend long trip was to Munich for Oktoberfest. The room my friends and I booked for the weekend was expensive already, so I did not want my journey to Munich to be pricey as well. I started off with the obvious and what I believe provides the smoothest journey, which is the train; however, I was surprised. I don’t know why I was surprised because I should have seen it coming. The price range for a one-way ticket to Munich was round 90 euros. The prices were inflated because of Oktoberfest, and my reaction was “no thank you.”
I started looking into other methods, and I came across two: Blablacar and FlixBus. Blablacar is a website where various people post where their location and where they are going, and how many seats they have available in their car. Basically, people offer to give rides to other travelers so that their drive is not as expensive. When I came across this I did find it sketchy because I would basically have to get in the car with a stranger. I questioned it, but my one of my friends has used Blablacar before, and it was significantly cheaper; it was 15 euros to Munich, and I’d already booked the room.
What’s great about this site is that at any moment, new offers are put out there. In addition, there are reviews that people post regarding the driver. On our way to Munich we had a female driver, and I was engaged in a conversation with her for more than half the ride; I asked her about the system and she explained that some people always travel and just want a companion to talk to, but most want the money to help cover the gas expenses. She was super friendly, easy to talk to, and great company. She was extremely nice because instead of dropping us off at the train station, she actually dropped us off that the apartment we were renting for the weekend. I believe it just depends on who you get.
Would I do use it again? Yeah, I would; however, I would still be cautious when booking a ride. It is good to know that there is this option out there other than the train.
The other option that I have come across is the FlixBus, which is the equivalent to the Greyhound Bus. It is also cheaper than the train. I have also used FlixBus and it’s a great means for transportation. My first experience with FlixBus was great, however the second time around there was an hour and a half delay. So that was unfortunate but things happen.
Both of these methods have a website where you can choose different times and locations.
However, if you do plan on using the train, especially to longer distance destinations, I recommend buying the Bahncard 25 or the Bahncard 50. They offer discounts of 25 and 50 percent, which does come in handy.
I hope these tips will provide some help to those already traveling abroad – and those who will travel abroad!
Sayra Flores is a junior studying business management with an emphasis in human resources. She is studying abroad at University of Mannheim, Germany.