I had a great experience today with budget transport which I’m obliged to pass along.
With my fickle travel nature, I decided this morning to leave Florence, skip Bologna and head straight to Venice. I walked to the train station to find how much a ticket was. Much to my consternation, I found they were all around €60. Way out of my budget.
So I got creative. I jumped on-line and did a search of every station in Florence (there are about a dozen) to Venice. I found that the next station had a ticket at 7 PM for €30. But I still felt I could do better.
A few weeks ago, I learned it was usually cheaper to buy each segment of a train trip separate. At that time, a train ticket from Genoa to Sarzana, with a change of trains in La Spezia, was €18. But a train ticket to La Spezia was only €7, and another ticket to Sarzana, purchased in La Spezia, was only €2. As a note, Sarzana is only two stations beyond La Spezia!
I put it to the test. I checked the price of a train ticket from the cheaper train station in Florence. They had a ticket to Bologna for €12, and a ticket from Bologna to Venice, leaving a few minutes after the first train arrived, was another €12. €24! The best part was the train was leaving at 3:40, more than three hours earlier, and giving me more time to get established in Venice.
The only “disadvantage” was that the next station was 3 km away. If I wanted, I could have purchased a ticket from the first to second station for €1.50. But I like my exercise and I was happy to spend half an hour walking through the city.
With just five minutes of extra work, I was able to knock off more than half my train ticket and stay on my budget.
Sometimes cheaper trips are just different forms of travel. My favorite trip so far was my ride from Barcelona to Genoa, Italy. Flights were around €100, but I found a ferry for half the price traveling overnight. Of course, the trip was even more fantastic for the great sunset and sunrise, starry night and meeting someone who happened to have a private room with two extra beds available. Got a free upgrade, made a wonderful new friend, had a great night sleep and simply loved sailing through the Mediterranean at night.
The moral of this story is don’t just take the first travel choice. Sure, if you’re traveling with time restrictions, you’ll need to take faster modes of transportation, such as flights and direct trains. But even those have deals that can be found with a minimal of search. Check different websites, ask locals how they travel and think outside the box.
If you do have some extra time, check out other options. Blablacar.com in Europe is very popular. A train from Cahors to Toulouse in France was €25, but a Blablacar ride was only €4, and they were leaving every few minutes.
Sure you can always pay the premium and just take the first and easiest option. But if you’re like me and want to save a few dollars here and there, I hope these tips help.