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On a Friday in May, I need to travel from Hoek van Holland, Netherlands to Mainz, Germany in one day. I can start Friday early morning and need to be in Mainz in the late afternoon. I'm looking for the cheapest option to do that. I have two mountain bikes and 4-5 backpacks with me.

I considered a car, but the one way fee is astronomically high.

I considered a train, but I can't book it online and I want to have my tickets in the next couple of days.

I even considered flying, but then I would first get to Rotterdam anyway.

Any other options that I'm missing?

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    Is this one person and two bikes as well as several backpacks?
    – Willeke
    Dec 29, 2022 at 19:19
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    Why do you want to have your train tickets in hand so far in advance?
    – mlc
    Dec 30, 2022 at 3:24
  • You missed ship (for the unusual amount of baggage). I’d expect the slowest mode of transportation to be the most economic, yet general cargo is usually more expensive. I just wanted to mention this for the sake of completeness. Dec 30, 2022 at 4:39
  • I think there's only one practical way and that's by using a van or (large) car. You could try to find someone who is willing to drive it back the next day. A train would take 3-6 changes, which is no fun if you're by yourself and have two bikes and luggage.
    – Berend
    Dec 30, 2022 at 10:31
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    Arrival at Hoek van Holland sounds as if you are crossing over from Harwich. Getting to Mainz (through Frankfurt Airport Train station, then 20 minutes to Mainz) from Oostende (crossing from Dover) is simpler since there are many direct trains between Brussels and Frankfurt. Dec 30, 2022 at 11:01

2 Answers 2

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This amount of luggage for a single person is going to be very difficult.

With a normal amount of luggage a very cheap option would be Flixbus. You can depart from Delft, The Hague, or Rotterdam. A one way to Mainz starts at around 30 Euros from there.

Flixbus does allow bikes, extra baggage, and oversized baggage (for a fee, of course) but that's subject to availability and certain rules. Your case is so unusual, that you would probably have to call them up to explore viability and price. They often strap bike racks to the rear of the bus but in mid-winter this may not be the norm.

You can check if car rentals in Germany are cheaper. I found one-way mini-van rentals from Kleve to Mainz starting at 200 Euro. You still probably would need some way to get across the border. Unfortunately Hook of Holland is as far away from the German border as you can get in the Netherlands (which is still not that far).

If you were to travel with 2 or three people, that would be a heck of a lot easier, but at your ratio of luggage/passenger this is more of a cargo/shipping problem than a travel problem.

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  • I don't know why someone downvoted this answer. It is helpful enough.
    – C'est Moi
    Dec 30, 2022 at 14:16
  • @C'estMoi There is no explaining some downvotes.
    – Peter M
    Dec 30, 2022 at 15:58
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If it is one person with the amount of luggage you mention you can not travel by train. Trains have quite a generous luggage allowance but it is not unrestricted and more than that, you have to get your luggage on and off the trains yourself in a short time. And your luggage should not block the aisles in the train. Knowing the troubles of traveling with one bike and a little luggage I am sure you will not be able not to block the aisle with the luggage you describe.

In that case the option rental car or van might be the only one. To avoid the drop off fee you can return the van to the place you rented it and go by train without luggage, which does not have to be the same day.

If you have a friend or partner who travels with you you might be able to get away with traveling by train. On a Friday, with bikes, you can not use the train before 9 am, so the train starting 8:58 will not do. In Germany you can (almost sure) not use the fast trains.

The best you can do is to go to the German rail planner site and enter your details. This site can sell you the tickets, self print or even in their app on your smartphone. But while they have an option to search for traveling with bicycles, I can not get it to work right now. (Might work later, might not work at all, you can call them.) This option is under further options.

As far as I remember you can not take bicycles on the fast trains in Germany, so I selected the option no high speed trains (but they do now, see comments under this answer, allow a few bikes each train, so do contact the German railways and ask if important to you.) That will give you a connection of trains where you have to change 3 or 4 times and with a travel time of about 5½ to 6½ hours, with only a few options within that time frame.

I doubt this will be cheap but if with two people and getting the cheapest tickets the German people can find you, you will beat the price or a rental car plus drop off fee.

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    "you can not take bicycles on the fast trains in Germany" not true. Some trains don't have bicycle capacity, but that's not all of them. Moreover, on ICE, you need a reservation for your bike, so you are actually guaranteed to have a spot
    – njzk2
    Dec 29, 2022 at 20:00
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    on bahn.de, select "weitere Optionen", then "Verbindungen mit verfügbaren Fahrradstellplätzen anzeigen" to filter on trains that accept bikes.
    – njzk2
    Dec 29, 2022 at 20:02
  • @njzk2, I tried that (in English) but got a page that this search was not possible.
    – Willeke
    Dec 29, 2022 at 20:58

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