We all dread going to the train station on the day of your journey – the prices can be unreal, particularly if you’re travelling with a family. Thankfully it’s very rare that you’ll have to buy your tickets on the day any more, as the Internet allows you to order the tickets in the comfort of your own home, and at far cheaper prices than would have been possible if you’d ended up queueing at the station.
However, getting the cheapest tickets online can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Here are five top tips showing you how to save significantly and enjoy far more spending money on your holiday cottage break:
Know where you can buy your tickets online
When most people think of buying train tickets online, The Train Line immediately comes to mind. It’s a good site, but bear in mind they add on a £1 booking fee on every transaction which will eat into the amount of money you save. National Express don’t charge this money, but their site works on the same backend as The Train Line so you can still save a fortune.
Singles are normally cheaper than returns
When you go on holiday you’ll normally be returning to your home within a week, or two weeks so you’re probably be looking for return tickets, but in reality these are often far more expensive than two single tickets. Returns give you more flexibility – you aren’t so limited in the number of trains you can catch on the return journey. But they come at a price premium, and you can often save 50% by purchasing two singles. If you know when you’re coming home it won’t be a problem at all.
Traveling at off-peak times can save you money
Timing your journey is pivotal if you want to get cheap tickets. Avoid traveling early morning or when the working day ends, particularly if you’re going through London. If you don’t mind arriving home early in the morning then you may be able to save even more.
Book your tickets early
The earlier you book your tickets the more you’ll save. Although it’s possible to save money when booking your tickets close to the day of travel it’s less certain – so book as soon as you know when you’ll be traveling. Combining this with some of the above tips – particularly buying two singles – can really give your wallet a hand as prices will be significantly lower than at the station.
Sometimes you need to be creative to get the cheapest fares. For example, if you’re travelling from Ipswich to Durham you may at first search for train tickets that begin in Ipswich and end in Durham. If you’re booking close to the date of travel these may be expensive. Try searching for tickets between Ipswich and London and then London and Durham. If this doesn’t yield cheaper tickets, you may wish to try an alternative route as routes going through London can often involve a price premium – Ipswich to Peterborough, then Peterborough to Durham may give you what you need.
As you can see there are several clever ways to hopefully save yourself money on rail travel. Please don’t also forget the railcards available, particularly the Family and Friends Railcard, which saves you 1/3 on adult fares and 60% on child fares – combined with the techniques above you can literally save a fortune.