Travelling within the Netherlands is not really a student-friendly affair. Or better said, a not very non-Dutch-student-friendly affair, since Dutch students do get free travel around the country. The easiest and sometimes only way to get from one city to another is by train and this can truly become a problem when you see the ridiculously high prices of the tickets, particularly when you live in the somewhat remote South of the country. A day ticket from Maastricht to Amsterdam, for instance, can cost you around 25-30 euros. As an Erasmus student, travelling around and getting to know the culture of the country is one of the key steps in making the most of your year abroad experience. But as an Erasmus student, you are also dealing with a tight budget, so then how can you travel everywhere, but still have money to pay your rent, utilities, books and all the other things? Here are some tips you might find useful if you ever find yourself in the middle of the Netherlands, asking the same question. 🙂
- Use group tickets!
Since I have moved to the Netherlands, I have convinced myself that group tickets are possibly the world’s best invention since sliced bread. Only by discovering this magnificent way of saving lots of money on your tickets have I been able to actually truly travel and enjoy getting to know the Dutch lands. Getting a group ticket means, in theory, that you and other 9 people will be travelling together from the same departure station to the same destination, at a discounted price of 7 euros per ticket (and it’s a return ticket, too!). In reality, no one really checks if all of you are travelling together, so all you need to do is join one of the many Facebook groups made for acquiring such tickets and find 9 more people who are going to the same destination as you (or at least taking the same train, even if they stop at a closer or further away station). You get the tickets together, and then everyone travels individually, whenever they need to. (A more detailed explanation of how to get a ticket can be found here: http://pointstobemade.boardingarea.com/2013/10/22/exploiting-the-ns-group-return-ticket-e6-40-day-return-to-anywhere-within-nl/). A day trip that would have initially costed you more than 20 euros will only cost you 7 euros with a group ticket! I’m telling you, this must be the best trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever! 😀
- Get a dagkaart!
Dagkaarts are another way of saving some money when travelling. A dagkaart allows you unlimited travel around the Netherlands for one day and is usually sold for 10 or 12 euros on the train line’s website, or for a bit more (14-16 euros) in different shops around the country. The trick with these tickets is that they are limited, so they are quickly sold out. If you didn’t manage to grab one in time, but you would still need to use one, you can always check the Facebook groups, where you can find many people selling them because they have decided they won’t need the tickets anymore. The dagkaarts are another excellent way of travelling for almost half the price that you would pay for a normal ticket.
- Get an OV-Card!
If you know you will be in the Netherlands for a while, it might be worth getting an OV-Card. This card offers you 40% off on every off-peak trip, which can be a really good deal (although sometimes it might still be cheaper for you to get a group ticket). The OV-card discount is the best alternative if you don’t want to bother with making groups and waiting for getting your tickets, or if you don’t fancy following the train line’s and other shops’ websites in order to get a dagkaart. The OV-card is easy to use – you simply scan it when you get on and off the train, and the amount charged is going to be equivalent to the length of your journey, minus the 40% discount.
I hope you will find these tips useful and if you have any questions about any of these things, feel free to leave them in a comment. 🙂