travel advice & savings
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Living in Germany Summer 2012
Canuck88's profile picture
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Hi all, I am a student from Canada who will be living in Villingen-Schwenningen (VS), Germany for 4 months this summer. VS is about half way between Stuttgart and Zurich. I am hoping to travel as much as possible this summer and was hoping to get some input on where to travel, and the best options to get there. I will get a few vacation days, and with public holidays I hope to be able to make a few extra long weekends.

I have done a bit of traveling in Europe with school in the past, I stayed in Groningen for three weeks last year as part of an exchange, and I have been to Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, and Antwerp as a tourist. I have a number of places I would love to travel to this summer, not sure which are feasible given that I have to work a full-time job, but I’ll list them anyways. Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Zurich, Interlaken/Swiss Alps, Prague, Madrid or Barcelona, Paris, Cinque Terre, Istanbul, and London. I would be happy just to get a some of these places, and any others that you would recommend. I also plan to see the towns near to where I’ll be living but those will likely be day trips that won’t need too much planning.

I have looked at different transportation options and I’m not sure what to go with. There are Bahn Cards, which discount train travel in Germany by 25 or 50 percent depending on which you purchase (50-150 Euro for the year). There is the 3 month Eurail Global Pass ($1350) which provides unlimited train travel in Europe, excl. Great Britain. Another option is to try to fly places by taking a train to an international airport and hoping for a cheap flight (Ryanair or Germanwings look cheapest), while this sounds great, the timing would be challenging with at least 2 hours train ride to an airport and then the cheap flights usually have weird times.

Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks.

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I can’t imagine that a global pass will “pay” for somebody with a full time job. IMO, a consecutive day global pass is only the best answer for a really, really whirlwind trip where you’re on a longish train trip every couple of days. I’d probably buy the bahn card and take advantage of on-line specials on — particularly for overnight trains. I’d think about a France/Switzerland pass for 4 or 6 days to cover long trips in those countries, although I’m not sure that would pay since you’d be in position to take advantage of on-line special fares. I’d plan on flying to/from Spain and Istanbul and using point to point tickets in Czech Rep. For London you could use the pass to get to Paris or Brussels to take Eurostar or (perhaps a better option) fly. You may be able to connect to Eurostar through Koln using your bahn card. You should be able to arrange your trips within Germany and when you’re flying so the 2 month validation period for the France/Switzerland pass will work.

A 3 country select pass for the same number of days may cost about the same as the France/Switzerland pass, so you could cover Benelux, Austria, or Italy for only a few extra dollars.