The decision of purchasing your train/airplane/bus/boat tickets in advanced basically boils down to 2 things:
- PRO: Spend less money
- CON: Waste more time
Kristen and I decided to purchase our train and plane tickets in advance. We got a great deal on all of them (£4 from London to Bath), and we weren’t sure if the price would stay that good if we waited. I remember (in the past) looking up prices for London to Cardiff and finding £11 day-of tickets, but when it actually came time to buy the ticket it was £30. Not sure what happened there, but I definitely got sticker-shock.
The problem with purchasing cheap advanced tickets is that they have to be for a certain time. This can mean a lot of waiting. We over-estimated our departure time for London to Bath because we weren’t sure if the plane would be delayed or how long it would take to get through customs. In the end we sat at Heathrow for an hour, and Paddington Station for about 2 hours.
We could have gone somewhere (within a very small radius of the train station), but it would have meant taking our luggage with us or paying to have it stored, and constantly checking our watches to make sure we had enough time to get back. It was honestly simpler to just stay put and eat conveyor-belt sushi.
Although it would have been awesomely nice to arrive at the station, find the next train departing, and then just buy a ticket for it (instead of watching 3 trains leave while you waited for yours).
We spent a lot of time waiting, because we didn’t want to risk having our train leave without us. Since the tickets were so cheap we knew that if we missed the trains we’d only lose a little bit of money, but we’d probably spend a lot more buying the day-of ticket. To avoid the extra cost we played it extra careful.
And yes, maybe we did lose a sense of spontaneity (that some would argue is the back-bone of a good EuroTrip), but we liked being on a schedule. We wanted to give each place enough time for exploring. We also liked booking our hotels in advance, so that we always had a place to rest our heads.
Besides, if there hadn’t been any advance booked during my first EuroTrip, I might never have left Berlin. I’d probably still be there, ducking the authorities and eating way too much schnitzel.