In many parts of the world, train travel remains the most practical mode of transportation. Most trains are comfortable, smooth and fast, whisking you to your destination without the hassle of red lights or traffic jams. With the right tactics, train travel can also be the most affordable way of getting around.
Book well in advance. Since most train tickets are released about 12 weeks ahead of travel dates, purchase your tickets about three months in advance, or as early as possible after release.
Avoid peak travel times. Train fares are often higher during weekends and holidays, so if your schedule is flexible enough to allow it, book your train travel for the middle of the week.
Avoid peak travel hours. Also called "rush hour," these hours for trains include mornings (6:30 a.m to 9:30 a.m.) and afternoons (3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.), when it is convenient for most people to travel (the beginning and end of business hours). Trains traveling at irregular times, such as late night train and early morning, often have cheaper fares.
Get a rail pass. From a student pass to a senior railcard to a Eurorail Pass, these can prove to be good deals for travellers that plan on extensive train travel. However, this is not always the case: buying individual tickets for each leg of your journey may end up being cheaper, especially if you are traveling to fewer destinations or if your travel dates span a longer time-frame. Research whether a rail pass is a good option for your particular route plan and timeframe.
Book directly from the rail company's website or at the station. Every time you book via a third party booking site you will be paying extra.
Check prices for both single and return trips. Although logic says that a return trip should be cheaper, buying two single tickets instead can often save you money.
Consider the sleeper train. Since sleeper cars travel at night you can save money on accommodation while reaching your destination. In expensive locations like Europe you can easily spend less in a sleeper car than in a hotel.
Consider a lower class. Depending on the length and times of your trip, it may be worth the money saved to bump yourself down from first class. In most countries, second class seating is sufficiently comfortable and significantly cheaper. However, avoid third-class or general seating in third-world countries as it is most often not worth the pennies saved.