Top tips: 5 Ways To Get Cheap Train Tickets For Long Distance Journeys

Once in a while I take the long-distance train journey from Leeds to London (King's Cross) and back with Virgin Trains East Coast, and the journey takes 2 hours and 30 minutes (or 2 hours and 15 minutes.)

I prefer taking the train to London.  I can't drive and I don't like coaches because I get travel sick easily.  Plus taking the train is the quickest way: it takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to drive from my address in Leeds to my address in London, and taking a coach takes over 4 hours.  Taking the train takes less time and the journey is much more relaxing.

Some people are quite surprised that I take the train, and when I tell them how much I normally pay for a one-way ticket to London (approximately £9) they are quite surprised because train tickets tend to be expensive for long distance journeys.  Yet, I always buy cheaper tickets.

1. I book online in advance.
Train companies release train timetables up to 12 weeks in advance, so you can purchase your tickets in advance, and by purchasing your tickets online and in advance, you save a heck of a lot of money.  If you buy at the train station on the day you'll pay a fortune!

2. I 'split' my journey.
I buy a ticket for Leeds to London King's Cross, and when I get to London King's Cross I use my Oyster Card and make my way home.  I don't buy a ticket from Leeds to where I live in London, because that costs more money.

3. I buy two singles.
In some ways it is cheaper to buy two singles than a return ticket.  I travel on specific dates and times so I don't buy an open return, which costs more money.

4. I use a Railcard.
I use a 16-25 Railcard which is the best thing ever!  If you are aged between 16 and 25, you can purchase a Railcard, and you don't need to be in education to obtain it.  A Railcard gives you a third off train fairs across the country, including London fares and (adult) Oyster Cards.

5. I select the cheapest option
When I'm searching for tickets on the Virgin East Coast website, I always search for Standard fares (not First Class) and I select the 'No Flexibility' option.  This means that I will purchase fares for a specific time on a specific day, so I won't be able to take any train and I won't have the option for an Open Return.  This seems quite rigid - you have to get the train at the right time on the right day otherwise if you miss the train you'll have to purchase another ticket - but the 'no flexibility' ticket is usually the cheapest ticket, and I always turn up early for my train - because I'm organised and I hate turning up late to anything - so it's not a problem for me.  It's a good option!

Do you know any other ways to get cheaper train tickets?  If so, please let me know!

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