How to get cheap Christmas travel
Christmas comes around at the same time every year, making it the perfect opportunity to get cheap train travel, as it’s very easy to plan ahead and snap up Advance tickets! Wherever you’re travelling for Christmas – to see family and friends, to Christmas markets, or home from university – use our app to make an average saving of 61%*!
The key to finding a bargain is booking an Advance ticket, instead of an Off-Peak or Anytime train ticket. Why? Because you pay more for flexibility. Advance tickets are for a fixed date and time and are non-refundable, making them cheaper than the Off-Peak and Anytime variable tickets you’ll find.
How to find Advance tickets
Train companies tend to release Advance tickets around 12 weeks before the travel date. And, during popular travel times like Christmas, they’ll sell out pretty quickly. That means, if you leave it ‘til a week or so before Christmas, it’s unlikely you’ll find any left. So, it’s pretty simple, if you’d rather be spending your Christmas bonus on mince pies and mulled wine, you need to be super-organised and book your train tickets around about September time...
*Average savings on all fares booked at least one week before day of travel on UK Advanced Fares vs Anytime fares purchased on day of travel. Subject to availability. Excludes coach.
Seven tips to make winter savings:
1. No Driving Home For Christmas needed – Use our app’s Price Prediction tool to help find the best time to book your train travel. Our handy feature predicts when ticket prices are likely to rise, so you can buy them at the right time to make the biggest savings. It's a great way to stop yourself procrastinating on your Christmas travel plans.
2. Voice your excitement - Our Voice app for the Google Assistant, makes hands-free access to travel info as easy as (mince) pie. That means even if your hands are full after a mammoth shopping trip or you can't bear to take your gloves off in the chilly weather, you can still access real-time train travel information. Just ask the Google Assistant to “Talk to Trainline” or go straight to the information you need by saying, for example, “Ok Google, ask Trainline how my journey home is looking”.
3. Sitting pretty - With everyone travelling over the holiday period laden down with gifts, extra space is at a premium. The BusyBot feature in the Trainline app reveals the quietest train carriages, so you can head for the empty seats and have the best chance of travelling in comfort. But remember, the best way to bag a seat reservation is to book an Advance ticket – the sooner you book, the less likely you’ll need to sprint to find a seat.
4. Festivities with friends - If you’re travelling with family or friends, check out GroupSave with Trainline, where groups of three to eight passengers who travel together on Off-Peak tickets may be eligible for a 34% discount. Get yourself a National Railcard too, to reap the benefits of discounted train travel.
5. (W)international travel - If you fancy escaping the UK and travelling further afield to enjoy the winter season in mainland Europe, Trainline lets you book travel to over 45 European countries. Whether it’s a family trip to a stunning Christmas market or a ski holiday with friends, you're sure to find cheap prices for your travel.
6. Christmas day trips - No trains will run on Christmas Day, but coach tickets are available to book with us, meaning there's nothing stopping you getting home to a second helping of mum's roast potatoes! Tickets start from as little as a fiver.
7. Book in advance - Set yourself a Ticket Alert to get the heads up as soon as Advance tickets are released for your chosen route. Advance ticket release dates vary by operator, but you can check yours on our full list.
Travelling last minute?
As much as we can plan for festive fun, there may just be occasions when we need to travel at the last minute, so here are our top tips for taking the train last minute at Christmas time.
1. Check your journey
The number one rule of Christmas travel is to check your route before you set off. This will help you navigate any Christmas Bank Holiday timetable changes. Stay updated on the go with our app, or check for live train times.
2. Book in advance
If you’re looking to make a saving, book up to the day before you travel. And, to make the most of time with friends and family, it’s a good idea to get an Open Return ticket so that you have more flexibility to choose your return date (hopefully laden with presents and leftovers!).
3. Get real-time updates
Download Trainline’s app in advance so that you can get real-time journey updates as you travel and send your arrival information to whoever you’re meeting at the other end.
4. Use BusyBot
If seat reservations aren't available, you can use BusyBot to find empty carriages on your train. Open our app to see the best spots to find a seat.
5. Be prepared
Christmas travel can be full on, so have your favourite book or playlist to hand to keep the festive spirit alive - just be considerate of your fellow passengers when you're belting out Mariah at the top of your lungs!