No OV-card? Don't panic!
Travelling at a bargain
If you travel by train regularly, subscribing to an NS season ticket is a good idea. The NS, the Dutch railway operator, offers seven different season tickets that all give you specific discounts at specific times. The cheapest is ‘Dalvoordeel’. For €50 per year (which comes down to €4.17 a month) you get a 40% discount on weekends and during off-peak hours. Take care though: if you often travel before 9 AM or between 4 and 6.30 PM you might want to choose a season ticket that gets you a discount in the peak hours or even allows unlimited travel. However, these range between €20 and €333 a month.
For more information, check https://www.ns.nl/en/season-tickets
Do you have a friend who has a student travel card or a NS season ticket? Then you’re in luck: you can apply a discount to your own card when you travel together. Just go to the top-up machines in the railway station and apply ‘combined travel discount’ (samenreiskorting in Dutch) to your own travel card. Of course, it is strictly forbidden to apply the discount when travelling alone. Yet, if you get stuck by yourself, it isn’t too hard to find someone with a discount who’ll let you sit near them for when the inspector passes by. Who knows, it might even lead to a spontaneous conversation.
For more information, check https://www.ns.nl/en/travel-information/traveling-with-the-ov-chipkaart/combined-travel-discount.html
Travelling in bigger groups gets you the biggest bargain. The NS Group ticket allows four to ten passengers to travel on one ticket. The more people tag along, the cheaper it gets. When your group consists of ten people, you pay only €7 each.
Don’t travel in groups every day? Then check the popular Facebook group NS group tickets Groningen for travel buddies. Once the ticket has been purchased, everyone can travel separately without ever having seen any of the other group members in person. Make sure to travel after 9 AM on week days. De ticket can be used all day during the weekend.
The NS is unhappy with this cunning use of Facebook. In April, they came up with a new rule to try and limit the use of the ticket. Every single person in the group has to travel from the same station, to the same station. You can get off the train before you reach the end, but you do have to find a group of people travelling the same route.
If you don’t travel by train often enough to make a travel card an interesting choice, then look out for special deals. Stores like Hema, Kruidvat, AH and Blokker regularly have special offers for train tickets that allow you to travel unlimitedly through the Netherlands for one day. Can’t find a day deal? Then check out the site actievandedag.nl. It allows you to buy two one-way tickets to anywhere in the country for only €20.50.
Do you need to go somewhere that can’t easily be reached by public transport? Carpooling could be an option, especially for international trips to neighbouring countries, like Germany. There are many ways to find a ride. You could check the Facebook group Ride Sharing Groningen to see if someone is heading in the same direction you need to go.
You could also use the carpooling app BlaBlaCar or the website Karzoo.nl to find a ride. There are some uncertainties to carpooling, but it tends to be cheaper than taking the train and is also a good way to meet new people.
Too shy to share a ride, but still want to make a cheap trip to Germany or Belgium? Then look into Flixbus. From Groningen, the green buses can take you to five cities in the Netherlands, ten destinations in Germany and to Antwerp or Brussels.
Taking a bus might not be the most comfortable way to travel, but it is relatively cheap and the buses have Wi-Fi and power outlets, so you won’t be bored.
For more information check https://www.flixbus.nl.
All my Dutch friends have a student travel card, why can’t I get one?
The student travel card is only available for those who receive study financing. Internationals only qualify when they
have been living in the Netherlands for five consecutive years or more and have the nationality of an EEA-country (countries in the European Union or the European Economic Area) or Switzerland;
(their non-Dutch) parent or partner works in the Netherlands for at least 56 hours a month;
have a residence permit type I, II, III, IV or V.