Those travellers who book train journeys home for Christmas early could grab savings of up to 43%.
According to thetrainline.com, travellers can save an average of 43% by booking early, especially when it comes to the busiest routes.
Advanced schedules are released 12 weeks in advance, with departures up to 14 December currently available on thetrainline.com and up to 13 December on nationalrail.co.uk.
Christmas fares with some individual train companies are scheduled even further in advance. For example, bookings with East Coast Trains, which runs trains from London to Inverness, can be made up to Christmas Eve at the moment.
Despite this, 47% of Brits wait until the last minute to book their journey home, with up to one in five leaving it until only two weeks before.
Online ticket retailer redspottedhanky.com says the savviest age group is the 16-24 year olds, since only 27% of them book their train home in the month prior to Christmas. However, 25-34 year olds are the worst with 59% failing to book early.
Regionally, Scots are the best at getting organised with less than one third planning their train home at the last minute. People from the east of England and Yorkshire are the worst, with 64% and 61% respectively booking in the last month before Christmas.
Five ways to get the cheapest train fares:
1. Compare prices across a number of different sites. Just because a site states it offers the best fares, it doesn’t mean it actually does.
2. Think about the type of ticket that will be best suited to your travel needs and research it. Different train lines have different names for the tickets they offer and different terms and conditions depending on the route. For example, while you may consider 2.30pm to be off-peak, for many journeys north from London, this would be considered a peak hour train. This is because passengers arrive at their destination at what could be considered the most desirable/peak time.
3. Use the various tools available to try and find the best fare. If you are flexible on the times and dates you travel you are more likely to get a good deal. Thetrainline.com has a best fare finder that will show you the cheapest fares for your journey around the time you enter. The national rail enquiries website also has a cheapest fare finder tool.
4. Always consider booking two singles as it can work out cheaper. The downside to this is it can be restrictive if you are unsure about your exact plans, in which case, an open return will probably suit you better. Once again flexibility is key.
5. Check if you are eligible for a railcard: 16-25, Family & Friends, Senior and Disabled Railcards are available (railcard.co.uk). Also sign up to email and text alerts, which you can set to let you know when tickets for your favourite journeys are available.