Ticket to Ride: Spain!

We’re nearing the end of week 11 of our family’s 12-week study abroad in Spain. One of the challenges we worked through was the logistics of getting a family of eight from city to city, all without renting a car. As I planned and bought each segment of our travel, I felt like I was playing a real-life game of Ticket to Ride. All aboard!

From Here to There: Getting to Spain

The first turn of my real-life game of Ticket to Ride involved getting the family to Spain. Round trip tickets to Spain for only $75! covers the nitty-gritty on my hunt for cheap flights to Spain.

  • Delta Airlines: JFK-to-MAD and BCN-to-JFK.
  • Purchased 117 days before trip
  • Cost: $562

Since we were flying from JFK, we needed to get there from the DC area. We chose Amtrak because it was cheaper than renting a large vehicle one-way and it wasn’t much more expensive than Greyhound or equivalent.

  • Amtrak: Washington, D.C., Union Station to Penn Station, NY
  • Purchased 64 days before trip
  • Cost: $318

We also needed to ride the local and NY metro’s to get to/from the train station, from our house, and to the airport.

  • Cost: $93

Lastly, our plan is to pick-up a one-way rental car at JFK and drive it back to our home on the outskirts of D.C. Cost: $377.

  • Total cost to travel to and from Spain: $1,350

Connecting the Dots: Moving Between Cities

We stayed in a total of nine different cities while in Spain: Madrid, Cordoba, Sevilla, Cádiz, Ronda, Nerja, Granada, Valencia, and Barcelona. We also did day trips to Segovia, Toledo, Gibraltar, and Montserrat. To get from place to place, we used a combination of train and bus travel. We debated renting a minibus to get between some of the more rural cities but once we got the hang of navigating the bus and train systems, we decided to skip the private car option completely.

In order of purchase:

  • Train from Valencia to Barcelona: EUROMED 01112, Turista
  • Purchased 51 days before trip
  • Cost: €182

  • Train from Madrid to Cordoba: AVE 02110, Turista
  • Purchased 48 days before trip
  • Cost: €201

  • Train from Cordoba to Sevilla: AVE 02110, Turista
  • Purchased 48 days before trip
  • Cost: €97

  • Train from Sevilla to Cádiz: MD 13020, Turista
  • Purchased 12 days into trip
  • Cost: €107

  • Train from Granada to Madrid: AVE 02077, Turista
  • Purchased 24 days into trip
  • Cost: €296

  • Train from Madrid to Valencia: AVE 05110, Turista
  • Purchased 24 days into trip
  • Cost: €176

  • Bus from Cádiz to Algeciras: Alsa
  • Purchased 37 days into trip
  • Cost: €110

  • Train from Algeciras to Ronda: MD 13065, Turista
  • Purchased 38 days into trip
  • Cost: €74

  • Train from Ronda to Malaga: MD 99638, Turista
  • Purchased 45 days into trip
  • Cost: €66

  • Bus from Malaga to Nerja: Alsa
  • Purchased 46 days into trip
  • Cost: €37

  • Bus from Nerja to Granada: Alsa
  • Purchased 47 days into trip
  • Cost: €79

Total cost of traveling between cities in Spain: $1,600, or about $200 per person. Not bad for hitting 9 cities.

I also found that while the trains in Spain do traverse the plains, they also climb through mountainous regions as well. That run from Algeciras to Ronda was practically straight uphill.

Subways, Buses, and Funiculars, Oh My!

Each city had its own public transportation system and it was challenging figuring them all out. For example, in both Madrid and Barcelona, the subway and bus system was all unified, while in Valencia they weren’t and you had to have separate tickets for both. We were in Madrid for four weeks, so it made sense to get personalized metro passes with 30-day passes for the kids so they could ride all month for no additional cost.

In total we’ve spent nearly $500 in around-the-town trips, or about $.77, per-person, per-day of the trip.

Oh, the Sights We’ll See: Day Trips

The other major travel expenses during the trip were the four day-trips that we took: Segovia, Toledo, Gibraltar, and Montserrat. Each of those places were full of wonderful sights. Here’s the travel expenses by place:

  • Segovia: $68
  • Toledo: $81
  • Gibraltar: $215
  • Montserrat: $156

Total travel for day-trips: $520


We’ve had a wonderful time seeing so much of Spain and our travel budget reflects that.

Total travel expense: $3,970, nearly $500/person or $6.13/person/day.

At the least, I hope this rundown was entertaining.

Hasta luego!

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