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Your guide to student transport on a budget

Whether it’s getting a semester ticket, using carsharing, or hopping on a bike, you don’t need a car to stay mobile as a student! Learn how to get from A to B sustainably and on a low budget.

7 min read

About to move to the city to begin your studies? We’ve been there—it’s an exciting time, but there’s a lot to sort out, including how you’ll get around. Luckily, there are plenty of options to explore your new home and visit family, even without your own car. Read on to learn how to get from A to B cheaply and sustainably as a student.

Public transport—comfortable, budget-friendly, and perfect for rainy days

Finishing a last-minute task for uni? Why not put on the finishing touches while riding on public transport? With the German Semesterticket—the universal student transit pass—you can commute to uni the convenient, sustainable, and affordable way. 

In Berlin, for example, you’ll get access to the S and U bahn trains, buses, regional trains, and trams year-round. And while a regular yearly pass for Berlin and the surrounding suburbs costs a little over €1,000, students only pay about €200 per semester. The nationwide average price for a semester ticket is only around €180—so it’s no surprise that the Semesterticket is so popular among students!

Here’s everything you need to know about the student transit pass:

  • Semestertickets are issued by universities, and the conditions are stipulated by the contract between the respective university and the regional transport service.
  • Conditions and prices can vary according to university and region. Go to your university’s website to find out more. 
  • The cost of the pass is included in your semester fees. This means that all students need to pay for their Semestertickets—no matter how often they use it.

Unfortunately, a few German universities don’t offer Semestertickets—so as a cheap alternative, consider buying weekly or monthly passes during winter months or on rainy days. You can even get reduced fares on your monthly pass if you travel after 10 a.m.

Public transport does have a few disadvantages, too. Depending on the time of day, trains can be overcrowded. Plus, not every university town has wonderful public transport. Even in Berlin, construction sites, cancellations, and delayed trains can cause disruptions. Luckily, there are a number of alternative ways to get around!

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The bike—a flexible and healthy mode of transport

Want to save money on gym membership fees? Then traveling by bike is your best choice! You’ll stay fit, save money, do something good for the environment—and you won’t need to worry about traffic jams or missing your train.

If you don’t own a bike yet, buying one may seem like a big investment at first. However, many bike shops sell used bikes, and you can also check offers on eBay, Facebook groups, and at auctions. To be on the safe side, however, it’s a good idea to get a safety check for your bike first—many bike shops offer a flat price for that. After all, even though you need to save money, you still need to be safe!

You might also want to consider your surroundings when you purchase your bike. Mountain or trekking bikes will make riding through hilly university towns like Passau or Bamberg much easier. In a larger city, you might want to get a bike designed for long distances. In bike-friendly towns like Münster or other smaller cities, a classic Dutch bike should be enough to conveniently get from A to B. And if you don’t want to buy one, renting bikes or e-bikes on platforms such as Nextbike is a great option.

Bikes do have a few shortcomings. You might have to deal with a flat tire, bad weather, and even theft. What’s more, transporting groceries or furniture to your new shared apartment isn’t super easy by bike. The solution? Carsharing!  

Carsharing—transportation 2.0 for fast trips and long distances

Want to travel with flexibility and comfort? Then carsharing is just right for you. And now, there are tons of providers like SHARENOW in a number of cities across Germany. Simply sign up, find a car nearby, and rent it with just a few taps in your smartphone app. Some companies even offer vans—perfect if you’re moving, or if you found a used sofa for your apartment! 

Carsharing isn’t only convenient for transporting heavy furniture or escaping the rain. You can even share the—already low—expenses with fellow students by carpooling. You’ll save money and do something good for the environment—especially if you borrow an electric car!

Finding parking is easier, too, as some parking spots are reserved exclusively for carsharing. However, you can’t just leave the car wherever you like. If you live further out from the city center, you might already be outside the carshare provider's operating area—making renting and parking the car more difficult. Plus, you’ll have to deal with traffic jams due to construction or rush hour.

Motor scooters and electric kick scooters—fast and compact

If you like to travel fast but don’t want to worry about traffic jams and lack of parking, then renting motor or electric scooters is an affordable alternative. You can find electric scooters almost anywhere in the city and conveniently rent them via apps like Lime. Then, just drop them off at your arrival on the sidewalk, or according to your provider's instructions—it’s that easy!

Scooters are perfect for short distances. However, scooters—and particularly electric ones—aren’t always the safest way to travel. You can only use them on the street or bike lanes, but most rental electric scooters don’t come with a helmet. If you enjoy using an electric kick scooter, you might want to think about buying one. This way, you won’t be restricted by operating areas.

Long distance travel—for when you’re feeling homesick 

Studying far from home has many upsides, but coming home now and then is important, too. With the “International Student Identity Card” (ISIC), you can benefit from a number of discounts on fashion, recreational and cultural offers, as well as discounted transport. For instance, you’ll get up to 15% off on FlixBus and FlixTrain tickets, and you can discover Europe cheaply by Interrail, RegioJet, and Leo Express.  

Traveling with Deutsche Bahn is budget- and environmentally friendly, too. Look for special offers such as Saver and Super saver travel fares. You’ll have to book these tickets quite a few weeks in advance and can’t exchange them, but you’ll only pay around €20 or €30 per ride. If you travel by train quite frequently, you might want to consider getting a BahnCard. BahnCard 25, for example, only costs €55,70 per year, and you’ll get another 25% off on saver and flexible fares!

If you don’t mind longer rides, you can also try intercity coaches. With FlixBus and BlaBlaBus, you can conveniently get from A to B while studying for uni or finally catching up on lost sleep—and get tickets for as little as €4 per ride! 

Traveling by train or bus has a few downsides. First, you’ll need to make it from your apartment to the station. Plus, you’ll be with many people in the tightest of spaces—not ideal during a pandemic. Alternatively, you can get a lift via BlaBlaCar. Simply find someone who shares the same destination via the platform and travel cheaply and comfortably by car—while meeting new people!

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Your money at N26

Mobility is essential as a student—even for your student bank account! With N26, you’ll enjoy 100% mobile banking with innovative features, so you can manage your finances as you like. With N26 Perks, you’ll get one-of-a-kind discounts to make student life easier—including Lime, Rentalcars, mymuesli, and Grover.

Instantly send and receive money with MoneyBeam—a convenient feature when you want to pay friends back quickly. And as a premium customer, you’ll have access to Spaces sub-accounts for easy saving and budgeting. Simply create up to 10 Spaces with a unique IBAN, set individual savings goals and create standing orders for your Spaces. And if you invite your flatmates to N26, you can manage common expenses together with Shared Spaces. The best part? You only need a few minutes to open your bank account. Discover which plan suits you best now and enjoy a fully mobile banking experience!

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