Recently we’ve been using car sharing a lot to travel in Europe (using BlaBlaCar.com) and it seems like it works if you are flexible and willing to travel with perfect strangers for who knows how many hours. It’s like hitchhiking but you contribute a little for petrol for the ride. So far, car sharing has worked out to be cheaper for us than other transportation, considering we aren’t in Southeast Asia anymore we have to find a way not to go over our already restricted budget and make it stretch as much as we can.
Did You Know?
One day, while I was trying to organize a lift from Berlin to Hamburg, we actually managed to get another kind of ride, this time not by car.
Until than I had no idea that you can hitchhike on trains in Germany, did you?
Apparently during the weekend people can buy a Wochenende-ticket (weekend ticket) which allows you to travel on local trains and take up to four people with you. It works like a group ticket but it is actually cheaper than the normal train fares (depending where you are going of course). It only costs 42 Euros and a maximum of five people can travel throughout Germany on 2nd class regional trains on Saturdays and Sundays. How cool is that?
If you are in a rush and need to be somewhere for a certain time it isn’t probably the best solution because you can choose to take faster trains instead, but if you can take your time and don’t want to spend a fortune like us it’s simply perfect.
We shared the train ticket fee but we heard that some people try to actually hitch a ride at the train station. In fact, because it’s so cheap in comparison with normal train fares, people buy Wochenende-ticket anyway, even if they travel alone. If we only knew this before!!!
An Interesting and Random Mix
When we turned up at the Berlin Central Station – Berlin Hauptbahnhof – to meet up the ticket holder who organized the ride, we were still not sure how we were going to be doing this. The journey till Hamburg was supposed to last 4 hours and we were hoping our travel companions would be good company.
It wasn’t the first time we had to travel with perfect strangers, that’s for sure, but this time the difference was that we couldn’t just leave if we didn’t like the company, we couldn’t travel separately considering only one guy had bought and carried the ticket that would allow us on the train. We basically had no choice, we had to travel as a group so we were hoping for the best.
It turned out that this guy had two weekend tickets and he managed to find 9 people to share the ride of which some were getting off before Hamburg and others were jumping on the train after we left Berlin. The guy was very organized indeed, we could tell it wasn’t his first time and he managed everything and everybody perfectly.
The journey itself was an interesting one for sure, it felt like being on a school trip when you have to follow the teacher no matter what. There were different nationalities and personalities that create an engaging group of people, and all anything but boring (let’s hope the others felt the same about us two). The guy who organized the whole thing is from New Zealand but is now living in Germany, there was also an Indonesian guy, a half Spanish and half Moroccan guy, a couple of German girls, a Spanish girl who jumped off soon after we left, a Russian guy that jumped on with another German guy later on and of course the Anglo-Italian couple (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone).
We both loved to listen to everyone’s individual stories and reasons for going to Hamburg whilst talking about the past 16 months of our travels. The half-Spanish half-Moroccan guy is a musician and he too was doing some brief travelling before heading to Stockholm to play flamenco guitar, in fact, he had his guitar with him so while we were waiting to catch the next train he started playing to keep us all entertained.
I know you’ve probably had similar experiences before in hostels perhaps, or on coaches and trains too, but this time it was a forced situation that worked out pretty well indeed.
The reason why I’m sharing this weird trip is to make sure that, if you are travelling across Germany, you are aware of this hitchhiking-like possibility to cheaply travel on trains. I think everyone nowadays is looking to save some money whilst they travel and this is just perfect.
You can either buy a weekend ticket yourself and search for others to share the cost with you or simply try your luck and hitch a ride on the day you are suppose to leave. In both cases you’ll save money and meet new people that hopefully will make your journey more entertaining.