5 Tips for travelling cheaply by train in the Netherlands
Are you looking for a way to travel cheaply by train in the Netherlands? Understandable! It can save you a lot of money if you look at which subscription suits your travel movements in advance, and taking the train half an hour later can save you up to 40% in price.
We’ve put together the five most important tips to help you find a cheap train ticket.
Travel during off-peak hours
The most important tip for traveling cheaply is to travel during off-peak hours. If you’re not familiar with off-peak and peak hours, you may be wondering “What are off-peak hours?” These are certain times when public transport is cheaper. In principle, these are the times outside of peak hours in the morning and late afternoon. Off-peak hours for public transport are on weekdays from 00:00 to 06:30, from 09:00 to 16:00 and from 18:30 to 00:00.
What does this mean for you? If you know you always travel outside of peak hours because you work at night or start later, you can purchase a special off-peak hours subscription from NS. This allows you to travel with a 40% discount during off-peak hours on weekdays and with a discount all day on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. So, if you only travel a lot on weekends, for example to visit your parents who live elsewhere, a weekend off-peak hours subscription like Weekend Vrij could be very interesting!
If you’re travelling with a special train ticket or supplement that’s only valid during off-peak hours, you may only sit on the train during those hours. Checking in during off-peak hours can be done earlier, as long as you don’t get on the train.
Look at the different subscriptions
The majority of Dutch train traffic is offered by NS, which is why the subscriptions they offer are the most affordable. It may also be the case that you use one of the other train companies, such as Arriva, on a daily basis and are interested in buying a cheap train ticket for that.
Which subscription is best for you depends on the individual. You can fill in an OV Prijswijzer (public transport price guide) on the 9292 website to see which subscription is most affordable for you. NS also has a decision-making tool on their website, which allows you to know exactly which subscription is suitable for you after answering a few questions. This makes it easy to travel affordably by train on a regular basis.
Day out? Look for a combination deal
There are often discount promotions available, where a day ticket for the train can be purchased for an attractive price. Perhaps the most well-known are the discount train tickets from Kruidvat. For less than € 20, you can buy a day ticket for the train. Other stores such as Hema, Blokker and AH often have similar promotions for buying train tickets. Unfortunately, NS (Dutch Railways) has decided to stop these promotions and switch to promotions in their own ‘Spoordeelwinkel’ (Railway Benefit Shop).
In this Railway Benefit Shop, you can mainly buy train tickets in combination with an admission ticket for an amusement park, zoo, or other day out. You can also combine a cheap NS train ticket with an overnight stay in, for example, Groningen or Maastricht. This way, you can buy a day return to Lelystad station, a bus ride to Batavia Stad, admission with a VIP Day Pass (10% extra discount on outlet prices), and a voucher for coffee and some snacks for only € 33.
Do you travel regularly with your child on the train? Then a cheap youth train ticket is also possible in the form of a Kids Vrij subscription. With this subscription, children aged 4 to 11 can travel for free and unlimited with their own OV-chip card. This is also valid during rush hour and with other train operators in the Netherlands.
Even if you want to go to Belgium, for example with the NMBS, or to Germany, children can travel with you for free. The accompanying adult does need a valid international ticket for this. If you are between 12 and 18 years old, you can travel all day with the NS Youth Day Ticket for only € 7.50.
There is no longer a cheap train ticket for those aged 65 and over, but if you are 60 or older, you can add choice days to your existing OV-chip card. For this, you do need a Dal Voordeel subscription with credit. For € 2.50 per year (2nd class) or € 53.70 per year (1st class), you can choose 7 days per year to travel for free during off-peak hours. It is not possible to use all of these at once. You will receive 2 choice days immediately upon purchase, and then 1 new Choice Day every two months.
Check out the various benefits
Depending on your situation, there are many different benefits you can take advantage of. For example, if you’re traveling with more than 2 people, choose the group ticket, which you can use with just 2 people. This way, you’ll only pay €17 per person per one-way trip for a cheap train ticket for two people. If you’re traveling with 5 people, it’s only €8.40 per person.
If you regularly travel by public transport in the Netherlands, it’s wise to take a NS Flex Basis subscription. You can add this for free to your OV-chipkaart and you’ll never have to top up your card again. You’ll receive a monthly invoice with the travel costs from the previous month. You can supplement this basic subscription with, for example, Weekend Voordeel for only €2.20 per month. With this, you’ll travel on weekends and public holidays with a 40% discount. This way, you’ll always get a discount on train tickets on weekends.
In addition, you can also add Dal Voordeel for €5.60 per month to get a cheap train ticket. With this, you’ll get a 40% discount during off-peak hours, weekends, and public holidays. It’s also advantageous that these supplements to the basic subscription are cancelable at any time and can be changed at any time (with a maximum of once per month). So, if you know you’re going to travel a lot for a month, you can easily turn on Dal Voordeel or Weekend Voordeel.
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