Seeing the world doesn’t have to cost a pretty penny. While traveling by airplane is pretty popular around the globe, going places by train is also a great alternative. Apart from fast and efficient travel times, it also offers passengers some pretty great scenery.
Although trains are certainly a viable option for travelers who want to see the world from the ground (with the help of fast rails), these aren’t exactly the cheapest forms of transport. Depending on your destination, these can command a high price.
Thankfully, there are a number of tips you can do to save money when booking a train. Not only will this help you score the best deals for intra and inter-city (or even country) travel, this will also make you a more savvy traveler. Check out these four train ticket booking tips below.
Booking a Train in Advance
One of the best ways you can score cheaper train tickets is by booking in advance. Depending on the train you’ll be riding on, there will be reduced-priced tickets for those securing ‘Advanced’ seats. However, these are sold on a first-come, first-served basis so you need to be quick in getting these.
To get more affordable rates, it’s advised that you get a train ticket booking at least 10 to 12 weeks prior. Even buying your tickets a week or two before can help you save by as much as 43%.
Train websites and platforms are obligated to sell the same tickets due to regulated pricing. However, operators and companies themselves may offer promotions or spin-offs and discounts from time to time, so make sure to check out their website when making advanced bookings.
Travel During Off-Peak Hours
Weekends and rush hours are insane, primarily because these are peak hours and many individuals are rushing to get to places. Most journeys that fall into these rush hour or peak time categories often incur a much higher rate thanks to peak time premiums. These fall from before 9 am to around 5 or 6 pm.
If you can spare it, opt for off-peak travel. Apart from avoiding crowded trains or being forced to stand for the majority of your trip. Different train operators and companies have varying sets of peak and off-peak times, so remember to check out their website prior to buying.
Look for Slower Routes
While speed is essential for some individuals, taking a slightly longer route could help you save more money in the long run. Similar to taking a direct flight, a faster and more direct route tends to cost more.
If you are willing to ‘sacrifice’ some of your time, you might want to take a different route. This may require you to switch trains, but it would definitely save you tons of money. Plus, it would also allow you to see more scenery.
For example, taking the Shinkansen called Nozomi in Japan is one of the major highlights for many people as it can traverse the major cities of Tokyo and Kyoto in a matter of hours.
However, if you are keen to save some bucks, a viable option would be to take the Hikari with a delay of 15 minutes. You can save more with the Kodama, albeit it is much slower and has more stops in between.
Opt for Split Ticketing Train Ticket Booking
If you absolutely cannot travel outside of peak hours or have to start before 9 am in the morning, you may want to explore split ticketing. This would allow you to cover two separate parts of your trip that you would split up the tickets that happen before and after peak hours.
While it would make sense to simply purchase tickets for the whole journey, getting a number of separate train ticket booking trips would allow you to significantly lower the price even though you’re on the same train.
The only difference from buying direct is that you’ll have two tickets instead of one and that the train you’ll be boarding must call or stop at the station/s you purchase tickets for. You might not even have to switch trains or get out of your seat.
The Bottom Line
Booking a train seat for cheap might seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity. With these four nifty tricks, you can finally make a saving on your trips while still snagging some of the best seats in the block.