If you have lived in, traveled to, or even thought about Germany in the last few months, then you have most certainly heard about the soon to be infamous 9 Euro Ticket. What exactly is it? For the unbelievable price of 9 euros a month, you will unlock access to all the city and regional trains in Germany! This is the kind of deal that validated my decision to move across the globe…or so I thought.
While this may seem like the deal of a lifetime, I want to give you a massive disclaimer that you won’t find in your app or printed on your ticket.
This is important! Before you start planning your trip from Berlin to Munich to Frankfurt and everywhere in between, here are the key points you need to know to set your expectations. (And some ways to stay positive)
The ticket is limited to regional and city trains. These trains often have many stops in between your starting and ending location. Unlike the ICE trains that are essentially door to door, expect a long, slow journey.
The Silver Lining
If you know and accept that there will be many stops along your way, you can plan to appreciate the small, picturesque towns of Germany that are off the beaten path. A small town in the middle of nowhere may be the next big adventure you have.
You aren’t the only person who has made plans to explore Germany. In fact, your neighbor, your neighbor’s neighbor, and that random stranger that gave you a weird look on the street the other day probably all have the same plans as you. This leads to EXTREMELY crowded trains. Some trains may be so full that you simply can’t get on. And the trains you do get on, well, don’t expect a seat.
The Silvery Lining
Leg strength from standing, practice in boxing people out (from entering the train before you), overhearing random conversations, or maybe rubbing elbows with the future love of your life. The world is your oyster really. Unless you can’t get on the train.
If you are planning for transfers, you must accept that your plans may change. With such high demand for trains, you may miss your train or your train may depart late. These mishaps may lead you to miss a connection resulting is major alterations to your plans.
The Silver Lining
After traveling in Germany this summer you can add strategic planning, contingency planning, adaptability, and quick decision making to your resume. These are all skills you will need to get around. Not sure whether to hop on that other train after you missed your first one? Make a quick decision, adapt later.
I’ve mentioned above the difficulties with changing plans and I realized that I should mention the difficulty in planning in general! Many of the applications you can use to plan your trip are not user friendly and don’t take into account the constraints of the specific 9 euro offer. Good luck getting Google maps to tell you anything other than the fastest route that you surely can’t take. And the Deutsche bahn app is great until you miss your train. Honestly if you get stuck somewhere your best bet is to read the paper train schedules at the station.
The Silver Lining
Back to costs, if you don’t mind a slow trip, stressful experiences in the stations, and planning flexibly, the 9 euro ticket is really an incredible deal that will save you tons of money!
Going to the toilet once you are on the train is an absolute nightmare. The trains are packed full of people so getting from your standing place or seat to the bathroom is a feat for only the brave. Do your best to go in the train station and definitely limit your hydration while on the train.
The silver Lining
Something to cheer for when someone successfully makes it there and back. Mental fortitude to hold back any thoughts of having to visit the bathroom.
Hot trains full of people, get ready to experience the smells of Germany. In the worst ways.
The Silver Lining
A newfound appreciation for the brief moment the doors open and air comes pouring in. Breathe in that sweet sweet air.
It is just downright dangerous to be on a packed train for a long journey. I experienced this first hand when the girl standing next to me passed out. Likely she had been standing for well over an hour and people were being pushed around as the trains loaded. Fortunately, the other passengers were quick to action, giving up their seats, offering water and food. One woman likely familiar in first aid helped to treat the girl. Thankfully she was okay.
I expect as the trains stay crowded and the weather gets hotter, there may be many such scenarios. So if you see someone struggling, offer to rotate with them for a bit if you have a seat. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to tell people or try to sit down or even get off on some random station. Your health is more important than getting to your destination
There isn’t really a silver lining to this one other than getting to witness some genuine human kindness.
With all this said there are a few takeaways:
- Don’t count on regional trains to get you to your desired destination on time.
- Plan knowing your plan A will likely fail.
- If possible, book flexible hotel rooms that you can cancel to the last minute or book at the last minute.
- Bring water and snacks onto the trains.
- Remember life is a journey and not a destination.