I have found I need to work on being prepared and organized when it comes to traveling. If you can jump the gun and book flights, trains, hotels, etc early enough, the discounts are astounding! But as I mentioned, I have found this to be a weakness of mine.
My frist experience was when I planned a trip to Strasbourg two weekends ago. Long story short my job was to book accommodations and I waited too long and thus lost any chance of booking a place on such a popular weekend (Christmas Market time in Strasbourg is a must see meaning I was not the only one to trying to find a bed). We ended up going nonetheless but instead of a nice weekend we chopped it down to a day trip. The drive took 4 hours up and 4 hours back; battling rain, snow and a hangover! I paid for this lack of preparation the whole week as the fatigue from my drive lingered.
So this past weekend when I planned to go to Lyon for the Festival of Lights, I was determined to redeem myself. The first change was that we would be taking the train. And after talking to friends I found out that there was a discount card for people 12-25 years old–Score! So friday afternoon I purchased the special card (50 euros but well worth it because it would basically pay for itself in the first use and I plan to do my traveling by train the rest of the year anyways). Afterward I bought the actual ticket for the trip from Dijon to Lyon. Awesome! I was already set with transportation and accommodations, which were being provided by a friend living in Lyon (read Katie’s blog too).
Saturday morning came along and I was dropped at the station in Dijon. Grabbed some magazines, a large bottle of water and hopped on the train. Everything was going well and I felt so great that I was organized and even saved money…all until the ticket checker man came around and asked to see both my ticket and my carte de réduction.
“Madame, this card is not valid until December 26th. You are going to have to pay the difference of €23.80.” Well that just sucks considering my ROUND TRIP ticket cost about €26 and I had paid €50 for the discount card that apparently I know couldn’t use. Obviously I tried to prove my point that there was a mistake on the card’s date and I really really wanted to use the card now, but he wasn’t having it. So I paid up and decided I would take this issue up with the information desk when we reached Lyon (arguing in French–check it off the list).
Another long story short, the lady who sold me the reduction pass had thought I wanted to begin my pass on the date of my trip to Scotland (which I also booked Friday). I didn’t realize that the card wouldn’t just begin on the date which it was purchased. Big surprise to have miscommunication between a French and an American trying to speak French huh…
Lady at the information desk in Lyon was not too happy to be dealing with me but in the end I got her to reimburse my €23.80 and change the start date on my card (for €5 but this was better than €50 right?!).
The rest of the Lyon trip went well–I will post about both Strasbourg and Lyon this week–but I hope the next voyage in two weeks (which includes trains AND planes) will be less “bumpy” than the last two!