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Green Travel Guide

Last updated on 27 February 2024
On this page you can find some information, inspiration and tips on how you can make your exchange more sustainable.

Are you planning to go abroad for an exchange semester and are you wondering how you can decrease your carbon footprint? On this page you can find some information, inspiration and tips on how you can make your exchange more sustainable.

Green Travel Guide

If you want to make your exchange more sustainable, you have probably already thought about going by train instead of flying. However, when looking at the ticket prices and the time it takes to complete the journey, going by plane often seems like the better, most affordable option. We would like to support you in making your exchange more sustainable and have therefore launched a VU Green Travel Grant. This grant enables you to travel to your exchange location (nearly) for free, by using for example an Interrail pass. Keep on reading if you want to learn more about the possibilities of travelling by train and to receive tips on where you can buy your train tickets. 

Green Travel

  • Why take the train?

    Next to of course being one of the most sustainable travel options, you can now travel (nearly) for free when going by train to your exchange destination (see VU Green Travel Grant below). This means travelling by train does not have to be expensive anymore. 

    If you are worried about the time that it will take you to reach your destination, it's good to know that there are many European destinations that can be reached by train in under 6 hours from Amsterdam, such as Antwerp, Paris, Lyon, London or Berlin. If your exchange destination is further away, you could think about planning some stops on the way and to start your exchange adventure with the train journey. On the Study Abroad Map, you can find some tips on which cities might be on the way when you choose to travel by train. Are you going to Barcelona for example? Why not stay a few days in Paris and then take a direct train from there to your exchange location? During those travel days, you will even be eligible for up to 4 extra Erasmus+ grant days, see "Erasmus+ Green Travel Top-up" below. 

  • VU Green Travel Grant

    Are you an outgoing exchange student, who is going abroad in 2023/2024 for an exchange semester at one of our European partner universities (incl. UK, Turkey and Switzerland)? Then you will have the opportunity to request our brand new VU Green Travel Grant, when going by train to your exchange destination. With this grant, we would like to support and encourage students who want to go abroad by train.  

    Next to the Erasmus+ Green Travel top-up (see below), Erasmus+ students can receive up to 135 EUR extra, depending on their exchange destination. This means that you will have up to 185 EUR in total to spend on a train ticket. If you are travelling to a destination that is further away, you can consider an Interrail Global Pass, which allows you to reach your destination (nearly) for free. 

    Are you going to the UK or Switzerland and will you therefore not receive the Erasmus+ Green Travel top-up? Don’t worry, you are still eligible for the VU Green Travel Grant and can receive 185 EUR when going by train. You can for example take the Eurostar to London or the nightjet directly to Switzerland. 

    Did we make you curious and do you want to know more about travelling by train to your European destination? Please find more information on the conditions and the amounts per partner university in the PDF above. Below you can find more tips on how to travel by train and where to find a good connection.

  • Erasmus+ Green Travel Top-up

    If you are going to an Erasmus+ destination, you can apply for the Green Travel top-up to receive a single payment of €50,00. Because train travelling might take a bit longer, you can get up to 4 extra grant-days to cover your extra travel days, which means you will receive the Erasmus+ grant not only during your time abroad, but also for the days that you spend travelling towards your exchange destination.

    You will receive more information about the Erasmus+ Green Travel top-up together with the information about the Erasmus+ grant a few months before departure.

  • How to find a good connection

    Finding a train ride can be challenging at times, but we have a few tips that will help you find the right connection. On the Study Abroad Map, you can also find more information on the duration and/or stops on the way per partner university. 

    If you’re looking for train tickets and connections in Europe, have a look at the following websites:

    • NS International (Don’t forget to have a look at the night jets that go directly from Amsterdam to Germany, Switzerland and Austria);
    • Deutsche Bahn International (Germany and many other European destinations);
    • ÖBB (for travelling to Austria, can be cheaper than booking via German train providers)
    • sncf.com (France) ;
    • Eurostar.com or thetrainline.com(UK);
    • Renfe (Spain);
    • Flixtrain (Germany, Sweden);
    • VY.no (Norway);
    • SJ (Sweden) Tip: You can book train rides with local providers in the SJ app. However, you can often save money if you book the ticket directly at that local provider (e.g. Skånetrafiken);
    • For Finland, travel by train to Stockholm and then take the ferry to Turku (Viking Line, Tallink). Ferries going to Helsinki directly are less environmental-friendly due to the longer distance travelled. There are direct train connections from Turku harbour to Helsinki and Tampere, from where you can go further. For travelling within Finland by train, you can book your ticket at VR
    • thetrainline.com (compare different options and prices in all countries)

    Most train companies in Europe offer a reduced price when you’re under a certain age.

    If you’d like to make some stops along the way, make sure to have a look at Interrail passes. Here, you will also get a discount if you’re 27 years old or younger.  

    If your destination cannot easily be reached by train, you can also have a look at long distance buses, like flixbus.

  • Our best tips when going by train

    • Book (inter)national train rides in advance to save some money, prices for regional trains usually stay the same.
    • Train time-tables usually change mid-June and mid-December, so do not worry if you cannot book your train for September in May, you can use the old timetable as an orientation as they usually don’t change drastically.
    • In some countries (e.g. Germany) it’s best to book a seat reservation, so make sure to check this option when booking.
    • Are you an Erasmus+ student going to an Erasmus+ destination? Then request the 50 EUR travel grant, plus possible compensation of extra travel days, when filling in your Erasmus+ application. 
    • Don't forget to also apply for our VU Green Travel Grant if you're going by train (Erasmus+, UK, Switzerland)

    For more tips on train rides, make sure to have a look at the Erasmus by train website

  • What about an exchange outside of Europe?

    Are you going on exchange outside of Europe or is flying your only option? There are still some things that you can do to make your exchange more sustainable:

    • Travel to the (intercontinental) airport by train, and take a direct flight without layovers (e.g. Paris, Frankfurt, London, Munich are easily reached by train). You can for example save 1 ton of CO2 (equals approx. 6 months of average food consumption in the Netherlands) by booking a direct flight to Beijing from Paris, rather than having lay-overs.
    • Avoid winter night flights to reduce the impact of contrails
    • Check if you can compensate the CO2 of your flight by for example donating money to plant trees
    • Choose an airline that is committed to reducing their CO2 emissions
    • Some websites like Google Flights show you the carbon impact of flights in regards to other flights, so you can pick the one with the least impact
    • Pack lightly
    • If you’re travelling during your exchange, always try to choose the train or bus over flying
    • Try to live sustainably at your exchange location, by buying local foods, using public transport and buying second hand utensils for your apartment. 

VU Green Travel Grant

Are you an outgoing exchange student travelling to a country in Europe for a semester abroad? Make your journey not only exciting but eco-friendly with the VU Green Travel Grant! The grant allows you to travel sustainably by train to your European exchange destination at (almost) no cost. 

Watch the video to get a sneak peek of what awaits you.

Outgoing Student Exchange Team

+31 (0)20 59 85745 (between 10:00 - 12:00, Monday, Wednesday and Friday)

Do you have a question? Mail us!

Consultation hour (walk-in, no appointment required):
Every Tuesday between 12:30 - 13:30 in the Global Room (HG-1A36). There will be no consultation hour on Thursday, 20th of February, due to the second selection round. 

Zoom consultation hour: 

to make an appointment please use this link

Emergency number for VU exchange students abroad: +31 (0) 20 6444117. This is the VU-wide emergency number. Emergencies for example include natural disasters, assault and (mental) health issues.