Traveling throughout Germany – the budget way.

While traveling long distances throughout Germany without a car, most tourists still resort to the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways). But since about one year, there’s been a much better (budget-friendlier) option: traveling by bus.

Until the beginning of 2013, bus tour operators weren’t allowed to offer long-distance tours throughout Germany.  The aim was to protect the German Railways System from any competition.

Since Spring 2013, this law is no longer valid. Bus tour companies can now operate on any long-distance route within Germany. And this is a good thing as it is much cheaper than traveling by train.

As an example: A one-way ticket from Munich to Hamburg costs 75 to 95 euros by train, but only 27 euros by bus.  And on the bus, you also have some additional services like free Wi-Fi (free Wi-Fi is available on trains, too).

There have been a lot of bus tour operators popping up since last year, and there will certainly be a shake-out sometime.
Here is a list with links to the most established and reliable ones so far:

Side remarks: Most bus operators offer reduced fares for special groups (students, disabled people). And: It is mostly more expensive to buy the ticket on the bus, so do the booking online!
Seats are only guaranteed when booked in advance. And make sure to check the baggage requirements, sometimes there are size and weight restrictions. Additional baggage has to be paid.

FlixBus
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an English version of their website. So you’d need someone to help you operate their site.
Service: free Wifi, guaranteed seats, snacks and beverages (not free), restroom/facilities available, hand baggage and two pieces of baggage free.

city2city
Service: free Wifi, free seat reservation, restroom/facilities available, hand baggage and one piece of baggage free, air-conditioned coaches.

DeinBus
Service: guaranteed seat, restroom/facilities available, one piece of baggage free.

MeinFernbus
Service: guaranteed seat, restroom/facilities available, one piece of hand baggage and one item of ordinary baggage free, free Wifi, snacks and beverages are sold.

Eurolines
Service: hand baggage and two pieces of ordinary baggage free (a baggage insurance fee is obligatory and can be purchased on the bus), soft drinks and coffee (not free), bus driver will make stops at rest areas (I couldn’t find any information about restrooms/facilities on the bus), guaranteed seat.

ADAC Postbus
Service: guaranteed seat, on-board restroom/facilities, air-conditioning, free Wifi, one carry-on baggage and one ordinary baggage free, snacks and beverages (not free).

berlinlinienbus
Service: guaranteed seat, two pieces of baggage free, air-conditioning, on-board restroom/facilities, free Wifi, snacks and beverages (not free).

 

I hope you’ll have a good time traveling through Germany! If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
And: I’d like to say that I have no affiliation with one of the above-mentioned companies whatsoever.

15 Websites to Travel Like a Local, Get Inspired and Maybe Save Money

Travel is my passion. Many of us can say that.  Though I am passionate not only about my travels but also about those of everyone else. So much so, that I have made travel my professional field  so I can explore it as a social and economic phenomenon.

I am excited to see a new trend that is bringing travel to its full potential. This trend is what many refer to as the “sharing economy”. It propels travel into what it is meant to be – a meeting of minds, an experience of self-reinvention.

Airbnb and Couchsurfing are probably the most popular sites that people use to travel like a local. But there are many more that allow us to find a place at a local’s home and immerse in the local environment.

Not long ago, I put together a list of 15 websites similar to Airbnb and Couchsurfing, both for myself and for others who want to travel in this way.  I initially posted it on my blog, TRAVLPEER, which I launched to follow how the sharing economy unfolds in the world of travel.

I am sharing it with the group, as I think it might help some of us create a meaningful experience on our next trip. And maybe it can help us save some money. Some options are free, some are paid – there is something for every budget. Here is the original post.

15 Websites for Peer-to-Peer Travel Accommodations

One’s destination is never a place but a change of mindset. So, go ahead – pick and travel at your will.

Never Travel.

TravelOpensMind

Never Travel.

Said no one…ever.

How the travel bug is not a world-wide infectious disease baffles me. However, I must keep my open-mind and accept that not everyone has the same interests and passions. I will say though, that I am where I am today, only because of the adventures I’ve taken in the past. I cannot even begin to imagine where my life would be had I not been intrigued by the idea of studying abroad when the study abroad fair was on my college campus. Luckily, the Australian application was due that same day, otherwise…maybe I wouldn’t have gone later on, in 2009, and met the hubs.

Anyways, how perfect was the idea to study abroad? Experience a new place, new culture, new food, new people, new…EVERYTHING. What better way to learn? I’ll let you in on a secret, experience is much more interesting than a book 😉 The only thing I had to do was convince my family of this amazing idea. Big THANK YOU for their support from the beginning.

San Sebastian, Basque Country (Northern Spain *sorry to anyone I upset calling it either place*) was my first real abroad experience. Well, except for the week exploration adventure in Madrid where I made dear friends and unforgettable memories. Toledo, cathedrals, museums, El Prado, Valley of the Fallen, El Escorial, Royal Palace…and those are just the places off the top of my head. In San Sebastian, I lived with Mertxe, the sweetest 77 year old woman. Immediately submerging me into the culture, as she did not speak 1 word in English. We watched movies, TV, and could eventually have long conversations over lunch and dinner. It was definitely one of the better choices to live with a host family.

Looking back, something I would have changed…and a BIG recommendation for students, or anyone else going to study abroad.

Surround yourself in the language and culture as much as you can.

Being my first time out, I will admit I spent most of the time with Americans. That said, mi espanol es muy malo. My spanish is very bad. However, no regrets!

It was there that the travel bug bit me. I loved hearing different stories and meeting new people. I loved doing things that would be impossible from my own city. I took advantage of my time in Europe, and the incredibly cheap flights and eurail passes between the countries and spent weekends visiting new places, and explored 6 weeks after my course with a backpack. Upon returning home, I finished school and was faced with a very important question: Do I continue studying, start working, or do more exploring? The answer seemed so clear. So, how does a recent graduate with no money explore the world? Easy…find a place that will allow you to work! Australia. Working-Holiday Visa.

The rest, is history. Met my man, fell in love…and since then have explored New Zealand, Thailand, and lived in Brazil. In fact, I am on my way to Brazil right now. I’m excited to spend time with my friends and family, enjoying some World Cup excitement, and really, in my mind, live the dream.

I’ve learned so much along the way, and look forward to continuing to expand my mind….broaden my perspective, and hopefully, with this post, inspire others to do the same.

So, please share some experiences with me!

Jennifer xo

 

Pack your bags! My ideal bag and what’s inside it.

For me, preparation isn’t necessarily the key, moreover an accessory. Like a wristband, or a slightly odd fitting hat. Wait, let me start again.

For me, preparation is like a slightly odd fitting hat.

However, as much as I’m not an enthusiast in preparation, a good bag full of the right equipment is essential. There has been many times where I wish I had that one object, just like a hat sometimes, rarely comes in handy. I think that for, me, there is a certain formula for that bag, and when you get that right can make a travel trip an unforgettable experience, and not one that’s fitted with nits and bobs and doo-wops that you don’t need.

For me, I hate using modern technology. I want to get away from civilisation, not take it camping with me!

So, to go with the title, what is my ideal bag ?

For me, I want something light and manoeuvrable, allowing free movement yet retaining tight to the body to stop flapping about and leaning away from me, giving excess weight to areas I don’t want. I recommend the Osprey Kestrel 68 M/L Backpack. It provides support and comfort yet doesn’t get in the way, allowing flexible movement all around. Although, in the wild it isn’t a fashion show, Osprey’s sleek design does score it a point.

20140526-095853 pm-79133288.jpg

And, what do I put in it ?

For me, I hate using modern technology. I want to get away from civilisation, not take it camping with me! That’s why I only take perhaps a camera, and that’s it as far as tech goes. I like using the traditional methods. Compass, map and binoculars all have a place in my bag. Next to my notebook and eon for any doodlings or writing I might do whilst out. Many people prefer the modern route, and granted it has it’s advantages. It’s easier, faster and accessible, which is exactly why I don’t want to take it.
I don’t really see the point in modern tech, I prefer the traditional methods because not only does it provide an escape from the use of everyday technology, but it slows everything down. And by slowing everything down you have more time to think and reflect. My bag checklist goes as:

– Map
-Compass
-Pen
-Notebook
-Camera (Panasonic T300)
-Lots of chocolate (they’re a great source of energy, that’s the general excuse)

So, there we are. That’s all I need. No fancy tablets or ultralight waterproof shoes. I hope that you follow the same creed, however not everyone will, and that’s perfectly fine. No adventure is the same for any two people and we all strive for our own reasons. But what’s in your bag?

-Elliot