Save Money By Taking Trains, Trams and Transit!

How to save money while traveling

Save your travel dollars and take the train

Taking the train instead of a plane can be a scenic and enjoyable way to get places, but a huge money-saver is using the local mass transit system when you get there.  “Please Mind the Gap” is probably my favorite phrase to hear, either it’s because I am in my favorite place or Ryan is making a reference to the great times we’ve had there before.  The thing about using mass transit when traveling is that it makes you feel a little more like a local not to mention helps you save a ton of money. Save your travel dollars and take mass transit.   

How to Save Time and Money when traveling on transit

It can be a little intimidating to jump on an underground train speeding into the dark in an unknown city. But it really is a money saver versus taking a cab or ordering an Uber. Here are some tips that can help you learn the ropes before you go. 

Save By Knowing the Layout

Go to the website of the transit system and download the map. This can be in Boston, London or even Dallas.  Spend time getting oriented with the transit map.  Just getting an idea of where the lines and trains run can help you plan your itinerary.  This map will determine where I will book our hotels when I am planning a trip. Even if we can’t stay in the middle of it all, knowing that our hotel is close to a transit line makes it easier because I know I can get to anything.  

After you know or have an idea of places on your itinerary check out their websites. There can be good information in the “getting there” section.  Normally, it lists the closest transit stop. This  helps me get the most out of my time, because I don’t spend it all backtracking when I can plan certain activities along the same route.

planning to save money when you travel

Save Money on Each Trip

Next, go back to the website of the transit system and learn what kinds of tickets you can purchase . Knowing the types of tickets that are available can help you save time and money too.  

For instance, buying a “carnet” (book of 10 tickets) for the Metro in France can get you a better price over  paying for each individual trip. Same in London, you can get an oyster pass and it is a bit cheaper than individual tickets.  Having these can also save you a lot of time, having an Oyster Card in London, means you just scan at the turnstile and you are on your way exploring instead of spending time at a ticket booth.  

 Another saving tip is that there are sometimes business or restaurant discounts when you buy a transit pass.  Check the website of where you are going, there is probably an option to see the list of discounted retailers.

Exiting Frustrations

This tidbit that can save you some time and frustration, and yes it is learned from experience!

Know which exit you need and how to say “exit” in different  languages. Most transit stations are really big and they have a lot of different exits and each one takes you in the complete opposite direction of where you wanted to go. Most sights, restaurants, shops, etc. tell you which exit to take on their website.  Do some research it can save you a lot of time and steps, including how to say (really spell) "exit". Signs are always bountiful, but if you are looking for the word exit, but sortie is what takes you out, you need to know. In French it’s sortie; in Dutch, it’s a version of “Uitgang”, and in German it’s Ausfahrt.  (Lol, I know)

Where is it Going?

Saving money and time using mass transit includes knowing where your train is headed! Trust me, I have gone in the waaay wrong direction, more times than I'd like to admit.  This can cost you more money if you take too long transferring trains or if you go outside your zone into areas that are more expensive.  So to know where you are going look at the front of the train or the sign at the track.  It will have the name of a station, this is the last stop that this train will make. Knowing where that stop is (thanks to your map) tells you the direction that the train and  you are going. Trains are normally identified by the last stop that the train is going to, which is also how the signs in the station are organized too.

Use the tube to save money while traveling

Saving Money for Experiences Instead

Saving money on teacher salary is super important, I would rather spend my money on a great meal and  some wine than on the cab fare to get there.  Plus, sometimes taking the train can get you closer to what it is like to live like a local in a city.

And as an added bonus, some transit stops can drop you in some really great spots, like face to face with Big Ben or even smack dab in the middle of the Smithsonian, check out this post on the Most Jaw-Dropping Transit Stops to see tips on sightseeing from the trains.

Save money when you are traveling

Speaking of Trains

To my teacher friends, do you remember those cliche math problems where a couple trains are leaving stations at the same time and you have to figure out which is going to get there first?  I always wondered how best to teach distance, speed, time graphs in my science classes.  Or really how to read any graph in any class.  After trying and failing multiple times, I finally came up with some scenarios that make my students "be" the graph.  Take a look at Be the Graph and maybe substitute bike riding for train riding, and maybe we can all learn a little more about science and graphs, in the Underground!

Be The Graph a middle school science activity

We are always on the look out for more money saving tips.  Do you have any advice about riding the rails?