I arrived in Amsterdam at 6am this morning and spent most of the day looking for a cheap room. I ended up paying €70. That was less costly than some of the prices I was quoted, but Amsterdam is a main tourist destination so I suppose that’s not so surprising. After spending 22 hours travelling by bus, and spending so long searching for somewhere to sleep, I was just glad to have a place to hang my hat. I also needed to get to work on an article for a client. Fortunately the room had a desk in it and the Wi-Fi connection was reasonably good, so I managed to get that out of the way.
While I was online I booked a room via Airbnb, so I’m catching the train to Wageningen tomorrow. I’m staying for 19 nights and the total cost is only £179.
If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam and want to travel on the cheap the bus may be the best option. I got a National Express bus from Teesside to London and then caught a Eurolines bus to Amsterdam. I booked the journey as a single trip and payed less than £60. Another alternative would have been to travel with MegaBus. The price would have been about the same, but MegaBus runs promotions where it is possible to travel for just £1 (+50p booking fee). From what I’ve read it’s just a case of pot-luck, if you try book a seat on a certain day for specific journey, and the gods of travel have got your back, you may get lucky.
However, if you travel to Amsterdam by bus, don’t take it for granted that you will be dropped off in the city centre. I had no idea where I was when I got off the bus. I asked the driver how to get to the centre of town and he pointed to the train station on the other side of the road.
In the UK if the station does not have a kiosk you can buy your ticket on the train. It’s not like that in the Netherlands. You have to purchase a ticket via a machine and you won’t even make it past the turnstiles unless you do because they are activated by a chip inside the ticket. The machines take most credit and debit cards and it is possible to switch the language from Dutch to English if you need to do so. At some of the larger stations many of the turnstiles may be open, but you still need to validate your ticket by holding it near the sensor. You need do it again when you leave the station at your desired destination. So if you bought a return ticket from Amsterdam to Gouda, changing at Utrecht, you’d need to use your ticket four times.
- Amsterdam (to validate it)
- Gouda (on leaving the station)
- Gouda (on returning to the station)
- Amsterdam (on returning to the station)
You wouldn’t need to do anything with your ticket at Utrecht.
All this confused me a little at first and I know I am not the only one because I’ve heard a few people asking advice about the correct use of their tickets.
If you are planning on doing a lot of traveling in Amsterdam it is also possible to buy a day ticket that covers you for all the local trains, trams, and busses. It costs €7.50 per day. Several other options are also available and you can buy a 7-day ticket for only €32. You can see an up to date list of the prices here.
If you have a lot of luggage and don’t want to wear yourself out carrying it around with you while you try and find a room (presuming you haven’t pre-booked) it is possible to rent a baggage locker for €7 (per 24 hours) and even the smallest size if pretty damn big. My backpack is quite large and heavy, but it fitted inside no trouble at all and I was glad to see the back of it for a few hours. I kept my smaller bag with me because it contains my computer and other things I didn’t feel confident to leave in a locker.