Top tips for saving on international rail travel
Thinking of visiting a lot of destinations on your travels? The best way from place to place could be by train. Here are some top tips for being train savvy overseas.
A lot of people are now broadening their horizons when it comes to their holidays.
Rather than just sticking to one destination, they are taking steps to ensure they visit several places throughout one holiday. Some are renting cars, others are flying to different cities and some people are getting the train. With such a vast area being covered by railway, it's an easy and often practical way to get around to several different places. It can work out to be quite expensive so here are some top tips on saving the pennies on your international rail travel.
As a general rule, the further in advance that you buy your ticket, the cheaper it will be. Many rail firms put their tickets on sale around 12 weeks in advance and they can have up to three quarters of the cost taken off for the 'early bird' buyers. If you already have a set itinerary or a detailed plan about the order of your trip, advance purchasing can save you a lot of money on the overall cost of your trip.
Split your booking
If you want to go from one country to another by train, you may find that the online booking systems cannot programme the request. It may say that you are simply unable to book trains to these destinations but don't let that dishearten you. It is certainly possible but you may have to split your journey up into different sections. For example, if you want to go from Paris in France to Alicante in Spain, you may have to book one journey from Paris to Barcelona and then a separate train from Barcelona to Alicante. This can be time-consuming so set yourself an afternoon to get all of the booking sorted out and have your routes pre-planned before getting to the booking stage.
Wait for all booking slots to be open
If you are planning to travel by Eurostar at any point, bear in mind that booking often opens earlier than other trains. The tickets for the Eurostar are usually non-refundable and non-changeable so if you book too far in advance, you may find you waste your money. If you book and later discover that your connecting train won't be available for several hours after arrival, you will be wasting a lot of time. Instead, wait until you know the times of your onward train and then book the Eurostar tickets after that to save you money if you have to re-book.
Although a lot of train companies have telephone numbers, booking online is likely to cost you a lot less, if anything – and the same often applies to buying online travel insurance plans. Some companies may charge a booking fee but it is likely to be cheaper than calling another country to make the reservation. On top of that, if you don't speak the language of the country you're calling, you may find yourself getting into difficulties in trying to explain what you want to book. There is no guarantee that the person on the other end of the phone will speak English so try to get everything done online; it'll save you a lot of stress and time.
Brand journalist Lauren Sutton writes this article for Alpha Travel Insurance. Lauren, a keen traveller, would love to take advantage of the InterRail pass before she turns 26.