With the cost of train tickets skyrocketing, financial experts, industry insiders, and savvy train travelers share their best hacks to get back on track while saving valuable money.
On March 5, the price of train tickets in England and Wales increased by an average of 5.9%, the most significant price increase in more than a decade. As fares soar elsewhere in Europe and the cost-of-living crisis cuts into pennies both at home and on the go, we've turned to a number of thrift masters for their cleverest tricks when it comes to spending less as a traveler. by train in 2023.
1. Timing is everything
It pays to be prepared as a train traveler, as pre-sale tickets charge much lower fares than those purchased just before your trip. According to Euronews, the UK is the most expensive country in Europe when it comes to buying single tickets on the day of travel. But Nick Drewe, an expert on trends inWethrift, says that pre-sale tickets are usually the cheapest, usually releasing around 12 weeks before the train departure date, and saving customers up to 80% (according toeasy lane) if you book well in advance.train line, along with booking engines for service providers like CrossCountry and Avanti West Coast, allow you to set up notifications to let you know in advance of ticket availability.
Avoid traveling during the morning and afternoon rush hours to further reduce your ticket costs. Most train operators offer off-peak fares and sometimes even very low fares, offering reduced price tickets for those traveling during quieter periods. A slower route may also be a cheaper option.
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2. Consider splitting tickets
Finding split fare tickets can bring big rewards. Split ticketing means you buy multiple separate tickets to cover different sections of your trip, rather than buying just one ticket for the entire trip. So, for example, if you are traveling from Bristol to Birmingham, you would buy separate tickets from Bristol to Cheltenham Spa and from Cheltenham Spa to Birmingham, rather than one ticket between the two stations. But don't worry, that doesn't mean you have to change trains.
Savings Solution Providerocean financingrecommend using a site likeshare my fee, where train travelers can save up to 90% on their tickets. The Trainline app also has onesave divideFeature that can help you find the cheapest split tickets. Alternatively, buying two single tickets instead of a round trip can often yield decent savings. Most booking platforms will mark the cheapest option if you use their trip planner.
3. Invest in a season ticket
Whether you travel often by train for business or pleasure, season tickets can be around a third cheaper than buying day tickets. According to National Rail, a weekly pass is likely to save you money if you make the same trip three or more days a week, while a monthly savings option can help significantly reduce costs for those who travel every day of the week. . There's also the Flexi Season Pass, which offers eight days of unlimited travel between two fixed stations within a 28-day period.
Although season tickets are associated with considerable acquisition costs, they are worth it in the long run for frequent railers. Consult the subscription calculatortrain lineonational railwayto weigh how much you can save on your usual route with a weekly, monthly or annual pass.
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4. Get a train ticket
Hayvarious types of train ticketsAvailable in the UK, it costs £30 ($37) for a year, with guaranteed discounts of up to a third at any time and on off-peak fares, so you'll soon be recouping your spend on just a few journeys. The 16-25 rail card is one of the most popular, and young people can save an extra £20 ($25) on the price of three separate annual cards by buying a three-year card for £70 ($86). Those who purchase senior train tickets, veteran train tickets or family and friends train tickets can also benefit from this three-year contract.
From the so-called "Millennial Railcard" for people aged 26-30 to the Two Together Railcard, which you can buy with someone you travel with regularly, there are plenty of ways to save. And if you're traveling through London, Laura Turner fromthrifty londonerhas excellent advice for you: add your Bahncard to yoursaustereCard account (Transport for London's pay-as-you-go contactless travel card) to save a third on off-peak tube travel.
It's also worth investigating what other discounts you could take advantage of as a rail traveler. Those applying for unemployment benefits or Universal Credit, for example, may be eligible for a JobCentre Plus travel discount card, which gives you 50% off train tickets.
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5. Know where and how to buy tickets
There are all sorts of hidden costs when booking train travel, unless you know how to shop smarter. Booking directly with individual train operators can help avoid those pesky reservation fees, and there are often other incentives as well. WithVirgin Trains ticketsFor example, you can buy e-tickets with no reservation fees while earning Virgin Red Rewards points, which can be redeemed for everything from free Greggs sausage rolls to scented candles and wine. West Coast also has all its own rewards programs, which, even if they don't include ticket savings, can add up to discounts on hotels, food, and your phone bill.
But there are also dedicated applications designed to find the best train routes at the best prices, such as:sitting frog. With no booking fees, Seatfrog's goal is to give all passengers the opportunity to get "the best ride for their money" by bidding on empty first class seats and getting cheap upgrades, as well as being able to buy tickets and exchange their trains. Since its launch in 2018, Seatfrog claims to have saved Britons more than £43m ($53m) on rail travel.
It always pays to keep an eye out for deals and new deals popping up all the time. Avanti West Coast is currently testing a 'giftedScheme that allows passengers to buy tickets from Manchester to London for £20 ($25) as long as you have the flexibility to travel when you travel. The initiative works by matching customers with available seats on essential services when they select morning, afternoon or evening departures on a travel day of their choice. You need to book one to three weeks before your desired travel date and your exact departure time is only given the day before, so it helps if you can make your travel plans down to the last minute.
READ MORE: Britain's Best Train Journeys
6. Make the most of rebate programs
personal finance bloggerSimiSharesTrust this little-known tip: Cash-back programs give you a small amount of money back with every purchase, and popular sites liketop cashbackYQuidcocan help train travelers save a few bucks when booking through Trainline.
Halifax Bank also offers account holders a 5% cashback when booking with LNER, while cashback credit cards are another possible option;spare parts expertrecommends setting up a monthly direct debit to pay off the card in full and avoid paying interest, which could wipe out your cash-back savings.
7. Take the night train
For true railway fans, the trip on the night train is something of a rite of passage. And while there aren't many places to visit in the UK (only the Night Riviera from London to Penzance and from London to Inverness on the Caledonian Sleeper), they can help you save money on accommodation and maximize time exploring wherever you go. Whether it's on the Nightjet from Germany to Croatia, the Reunification Express in Vietnam or the Ghan at the Red Center in Australia, sleeper train journeys are epic experiences in themselves.
As Anita Naik, an expert in savingsGutscheinCodes.de, notes that sleeping services tend to be more expensive than daytime travel, but are unique in their benefits, allowing you to deduct an overnight stay from your total travel expense and travel from A to B while you rest.
READ MORE: The World's Best Sleeper Train Routes
8. Support economic rail operators
Lumo, dubbed the easyJet of railways, could spark a new movement for cheap rail travel. It operates an all-electric service from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh that rivals that of the LNER but at a fraction of the cost. According to the online savings platformraisin uk, LumoFixed fares start at £19.90 ($24) and cut LNER standard class tickets by more than a third to £31.80 ($39). The problem is that Lumo currently doesn't stop at every station on the line and only offers four trips a day (compared to the LNER's half-hour service), but it is expected to increase to 10 during the year, according to demand.
9. Bring your friends and spend less
The next weekend with your friends is now cheaper. Withsave group, Groups of three to nine adults traveling and booking together can save up to a third on off-peak train tickets. Recommended by Lucinda O'Brien, an expert inSavings from Money.co.uk, this simple solution saves money and luxuries; There is no problem for everyone in the group to organize their own tickets, everything is done with a few clicks. It is particularly useful for those who do not yet benefit from Bahncard discounts, as these cannot be applied in addition to Group Savings.
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10. Traveling around Europe?
Traveling by train in mainland Europe is much cheaper than in the UK and these are becoming more and more popular.Interrail/EurailPass makes it easy to travel by rail through 33 different countries and potentially save passengers thousands compared to buying individual point-to-point tickets.
Veteran rail traveler and travel writer Julia Hammond has another top tip to help you navigate Europe by train:save laneTickets. These are pre-sale fares that are available for a limited time and are offered by the ÖBB via its app. For a trip from Vienna to Budapest that same year, Julia was able to get a ticket for less than €15 (£13/$16), compared to the standard price of €50.70 (£45/$55).
Starting May 1, Germany will introduce theGermany ticketfor €49 (£43/$52), giving passengers a month of travel on the country's regional rail and bus network. Along with France, Germany has also issued thousands of free train tickets for people under 27. Free multi-trip commuter and medium-haul trips in SpainRenfeTrains will be offered until the end of the year, whether they are residents or tourists.
In a recently announced initiative, the EU will also give away 35,000 free rail passes in 2023 to 18-year-olds from across the European Union and other countries participating in the Erasmus program to study abroad. You have until March 29 at 12:00 CEST to apply with all the detailsHere.
11. Are you traveling with luggage?
Giacomo Piva is a travel industry analyst and co-founder ofradical storage, who says that storing your luggage at a Radical Storage resource can cost as little as £5 ($6) per day per bag. This greatly undercuts the exorbitant fees charged by many train station luggage storage facilities, which can range from £15 to £25 ($18 to $31) per bag. Radical Storage also offers a free audio guide for your travel destination, covering everything from Buenos Aires and Tokyo to Yerevan and Nairobi. For train travelers throughout Europepack your bagsis another low-cost option that charges by locker size and has outposts in Paris, Barcelona, Milan, and more.
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