This is a sponsored article on behalf of GoEuro.
Looking to escape London for a bit? As car-shunning city-folk, we're big fans of hopping on the train to go somewhere new — though we'll be the first to admit that planning a trip by rail is, erm, confusing at best. That's why we've put together these 7 top tips to help you make the most of your journey:
1. Book your tickets well in advance
If you're only going to pay attention to one of these rules, make it this one. For most operators, advance tickets go on sale three months before the date of travel, and put simply: the earlier you book them, the cheaper they'll be. It's also worth remembering that advance tickets are always cheaper than just turning up, so avoid the queues at the station and fire up the GoEuro app — some operators sell them up to 15 minutes before departure.
2. Make the most of railcard discounts
Just for young people, right? Actually, no. Railcard eligibility goes far beyond the lucky under 25s, with cards available for disabled people, seniors, families, couples and those travelling on services in the South East. Most cards are just £30 per year, and with discounts of up to 1/3 off rail fares, it won't be long before you make the cost back in savings.
3. Consider a different mode of transport
Alright, we're not suggesting you ditch the train and jet down to Brighton, but for longer journeys, it's worth exploring other options. For instance, did you know that it's cheaper to fly London to Glasgow than it is to go by train? GoEuro's handy price comparison feature lets you compare journey times and prices across trains, buses and planes, making it easy to switch up your ride.
4. Watch (and listen) out for declassified first class
First class travel. Standard class price. How? Lots of operators run first-class coaches on busy commuter routes where no first-class ticketing is available, meaning standard class customers are free to sit in those extra plushy seats. Our very own Geoff Marshall explains all here. Listen out for announcements on extra-busy services too, since onboard staff will sometimes declassify first class coaches to ease overcrowding.
5. Be flexible with your departure and journey times
If you're not in a hurry, it's well worth avoiding travel during peak hours (generally 6.30am-9am and 4pm-7pm Monday-Friday, although this varies by operator). Off-peak tickets, while subject to some restrictions, are much better value for money — GoEuro reckon you could save up to £70 — and the services will be less busy too. Plus, if you don't mind taking a little longer to get where you're going, watch out for cheaper, slower services. GoEuro's search filters can help you work out what's best.
6. Get 2-for-1 discounted entry to attractions with your tickets
Lots of people don't realise it, but many of the UK's top attractions — from London Zoo, to Cadbury World, to the Edinburgh Dungeon — offer 2-for-1 entry when you travel by train. All you need to do is print a special voucher from the Days Out Guide website, and present it at the attraction with your train ticket. With days out getting increasingly expensive, it's a great way of keeping costs down.
GoEuro is a travel platform that allows you to find and book trains, buses and flights across Europe. Click here to start planning your journey.