Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

During the month of April, I had the opportunity to travel around Europe. I’m so grateful for the experiences and memories that I was able to have. Plus, I learned a lot about traveling through various forms of transportation and the companies that run them.

Trains: Trains are my favorite mode of transportation, but unfortunately, they ended up being quite expensive, so we only took the train a couple times. I like traveling by train because it is comfortable, and the views are usually beautiful. While we were planning for April, we looked into “eurail” which offers multiple days of travel in a specified time range. For example, you can buy 7 days of travel for any of the days in a one-month period. It is important to compare the price to travel by plane or bus. For our trip, it ended up being more expensive to buy the eurail pass than to buy individual plane and bus tickets. But, depending on the time of year that you buy the eurail pass, it could be cheaper, because I’ve noticed that they do offer discounts sometimes!

Planes: Planes can be expensive, but we found a cheap way to fly with an airline called “Ryanair”. Ryanair has incredibly cheap flights. For example, they had tickets from Leeds to Dublin for $19. The one thing I will say about Ryanair though is: Beware of Ryanair. Since they sell such cheap plane tickets, they try to get your money in other ways. It is important to read the fine print before you get to the airport.

I’ve made some notes of things to keep in mind that I learned about Ryanair:

  1. When you find a flight day and time that you want, three options of ticket prices will pop up. The ticket options are:
    1. Standard fare: this is the cheapest option. It claims that you only get one small cabin bag, but no other checked bags.
    2. Plus: with this ticket, it says you get 2 cabin bags and a checked 20kg (44lbs) bag. If you want to check a heavy bag, this is the ticket that you should buy.
    3. Flexi Plus: this is the most expensive ticket and the things it comes with are unnecessary.

I originally thought that I had to buy the “Plus” ticket because I wanted to have my backpack and a smaller suitcase (about 10kg/22lbs) with me during my travels. They don’t advertise this on their website, but you CAN buy the standard fare ticket and add another cabin bag or 10kg (22lbs) checked bag for a smaller price than the plus ticket. So, if you don’t have a 44lb bag that you want to travel with, skip the plus ticket and click on the standard fare ticket so that you can add a bag on the next page for a cheaper price.

  1. After you select a ticket and the type of luggage you want, a message pops up multiple times that you need to select a seat for an added price. If you looking closely, you can actually select a button that says that you choose random allocation for no extra fee. If you do this, you have to wait two days before your flight to check-in and receive a seat. This posed a problem for me that I will explain in number 3.
  2. As a non-European Union citizen, it was required by Ryanair that I have my boarding pass printed. They are kind enough to print if for you, but it’ll cost you 20 euros (about $22). Some of the employees of Ryanair don’t know about this rule, so I do know of people that have gone to the front desk and gotten their boarding pass printed for free. But, I also know of people that have had to pay the steep fee for their boarding pass. This posed a problem for me because I wasn’t going to have access to a printer during my travels, so I had to make the decision: do I buy an allocated seat ahead of time so that I can print my boarding pass off before I leave, or do I take the risk and hope no one charges me for my boarding passes? I ended up buying a seat for each flight I was planning on going on, which allowed me to check-in early and print off my boarding pass before I left for my adventure. It was cheaper for me to pay for the seats of 5 flights (about $24 total) than potentially paying $22 total for each flight.
  3. Lastly, this is the one plus to flying Ryanair. On their website, they say that the one small cabin bag that you can bring for free is about the size of a small purse (40cm x 20cm x 25cm). I took the risk of bringing my school backpack. I knew that they might charge me for bringing on a larger bag, but thankfully, I had no problems with the backpack!

Overall, Ryanair is worth exactly what you pay for. It is perfectly fine when you know the ways they try to get you to pay more money.

Automobiles: We took buses for most of the day trips that we went on. We also embarked on two seven-hour, overnight buses. I was impressed by the quality of the buses that the companies provided for us to travel on. We used two companies to book our trips: “Flixbus” and “Omio”. Both companies provide coach buses for their journeys and they make the buses as comfortable as a bus can be. My favorite bus that we took was our first overnight trip from Kraków, Poland to Budapest, Hungary on a Flixbus. The bus was a double decker and had seats that reclined really far back. It made sense to do overnight buses because if we took the journey during the day, we would’ve lost almost a full day of site-seeing. The overnight trips consisted of very little sleep, but in the end, I’m glad we did them so that we could enjoy the cities more. Plus, you save a night of paying for accommodation and only pay around $20 for the transportation!

I’m thankful that my friends and I were able to rely on all of these transportation companies to get us safely to each destination. Planning ahead with our transportation was crucial and it helped make our trip run more smoothly. My trip was so incredible and I’m thankful for all the memories that I was able to make with new friends.