Please sign in to post.

Why buy train tickets far in advance?

Answering my own question so hopefully others will benefit from my experience. This past July( the 19th to be exact) we sat in a first class car, travelling from Paris down to Nice ( 5.5 hours). Comfy. We befriended and started chatting to American couple sitting across from us. They had said they felt they got a decent price on their train tickets, they had just purchased them 3 weeks previously. Their tickets cost them 200 euros each. We had purchased out tickets online through idTGV three months before.
We paid 40 euros each. We all enjoyed the trip down, but I think my mate and I enjoyed ours just a wee bit more!

Posted by
1167 posts

I'm hoping that you didn't make they feel bad by telling them how much less you paid.

Posted by
11450 posts

Why yes I did,, lol , and if you had met them you would have understood why,, they were getting off in Cannes and made it clear that staying in Nice was second best,, Cannes had the better beaches ( perhaps so ) the better hotels, and the better clubs .. it was a name dropping brag fest.. I am pretty sure they didn't really care about the extra 160 euros each they spent since it sounds like that was only a nightly drink tab for them lol .

Posted by
8007 posts

That's hilarious Pat! With a good lesson therein!

Posted by
2829 posts

This reminds me of my girlfriend's aunt. Although she's on a relatively good financial situation for middle class standards, she becomes very anxious with things that have different pricing. She will complain vocally about things like taking the same flight, same cramped economy seat, and realize she just paid double the price of her seatmate. Ditto for trains, she was complaining nostalgically about how good were "those days" when she knew the price for a ticket to Paris and didn't need to be "yield managed" lol. It is rather hilarious to hear her talk about travel stories. She's not a cheap person or excessively thrifty, but she feels "wronged" by business charging different fares for same product or service and will feel bad if she buys something than find it 20% cheaper online 2 days after :p I also have my own grandfather who longs about days when government set fixed prices for gas, bread and milk throughout the country because he didn't need to shop around. I guess many people born before 1960 didn't grow used to basic economic concepts (I tried to explain price ion and other stuff for both, to no avail, they always claim the unfairness of "not knowing the real price") like price = what the vendor can get from you, irrespective of real costs.

Posted by
3031 posts

I was about to answer the subject with the response "because it's cheaper" great story. i don't understand why more people don't buy in advance. unless you love spontaneity so much you're willing to pay 2x, 3x, sometimes 4x or more for it - buy in advance!

Posted by
11450 posts

Paul some people come on and ask if they should wait and buy tickets last minute, thinking they may get deals,, this simply explains that if you know your dates that there is no advantage to last minute buying.. but nice to hear from you sunshine .

Posted by
8850 posts

They are refundable if your plans change. But even if they weren't, you'd be losing only 40 euros instead of spending 200 at the last minute. On the other hand, for some people 200 euros on train tickets is chump change.

Posted by
3031 posts

Well, if you can't plan months in advance - despite spending thousands of dollars to get to Europe from North America - than maybe saving significant amounts of money isn't that important to you in the first place. But for budget minded travelers, advance planning is always the cheapest way to go.

Posted by
11450 posts

Paul, perhaps some people cannot plan three months in advance, but many can , and do, especially for big trip like to Europe . In fact , many people buy their plane tickets to Europe 6 or more months in advance, then plan a rough itinerary, which of course would include inter europeon flights and train rides. I understand that for some people they may not have the option to plan ahead, but many have to book time off work 6-12 months in advance, and do not get to be spontenous. Also many people plan years in advance for a trip to Europe, and three months in advance they already have their bags packed.
Deciding on short notice to take weeks off and go to Europe is something many people can't even afford , for some of us there is saving of money involved ! Its not a case of one way being the right or wrong way, but for those who are watching their budget, and planning a big trip months in advance, it is helpful to know that by booking certain things as soon as their dates are set can save them alot of money.

Posted by
9119 posts

I have to agree with pat. We have to plan our trips far ahead because of my husband's job. Some people may prefer to travel spontaneously, but many people do know in advance what day they will need to take the train from Point A to Point B. It's good for those people to know the costs savings of purchasing their train tickets in advance. For those that don't want to pre-plan or don't care about saving money, they can ignore this entire thread. Clearly pat is trying to pass on good information, not start a debate.

Posted by
18527 posts

"you can't really plan 3 months in advance what day you'll be taking the train." I disagree with that statement because that's what I do. Well, maybe not 3 months, but at least 2 months. I book my trains right after I buy my airline tickets, so unless you buy your airline tickets right before you travel... Actually, that is a good analogy. If you plan your trip enough to buy airline tickets well in advance, you can buy your rail tickets well in advance too. Last trip, I had a Savings Fare ticket for my last full day from Bad Schandau (on the Czech border east of Dresden) to Freising (near MUC). Full fare is 87€. I bought it two months in advance and paid 29€. I just now looked at the Bahn website and you can get the same tickets for 3 weeks from now for 34€. And, BTW, Saving Fare tickets are refundable less 15€ online up to the day before travel, but then you would probably have to buy new tickets at full price. Most of the time I use regional passes (eg, Bayern-Tickets) which are valid for any train, buy I rarely fail to be on any train that I had planned to be on months in advance.

Posted by
11450 posts

Yes, the ticket I purchased ( was actually a idTGV) was non refundable, I took a risk I supose, but it was a 40 euro risk, that was a gamble with odds I could handle.

Posted by
4535 posts

When people can plan their whole trip well in advance, they absolutely should try to buy train tickets in advance for the reasons shown in Pat's OP. But Paul is absolutely right, not everyone can or does travel that way and we shouldn't assume they do. And it isn't just rich people that fly off for the weekend. I'd guess the majority of travelers do have a set itinerary, but many don't for many reasons.

Posted by
11450 posts

Paul I haven't booked, or tried to book a ticket from CDG to Nice , but I did look at the fares for CDG to Tours, and yes, it was always a bit more from CDG, besides having fewer departure times. It would be cheaper to take RER into Paris for 10 euros and transfer, but that does add time and hassle. Incidently, just saw fares for Paris to Nice for 26 euros 2nd class or 36 euros 1st class for dates starting in November..

Posted by
8700 posts

Paul, The standard 2nd class fare for a direct TGV from CDG to Nice is €128.00. Booked well in advance (up to three months allowed), you can get a Prem's fare as low as €54.00. If you go into Paris and depart from Gare de Lyon, you can get a Prem's fare as low as €30.00.

Posted by
2297 posts

I try to get advance fare tickets as often as I can. But it's not that easy as the following examples show: 1. If you arrive by plane and want to continue by train you have to factor in possible delays. A non-refundable ticket ties you to a specific departure time that you might miss or you end up waiting for hours if you budget for flight delays. In this forum, too, we usually advice against advance purchase in those very common cases. 2. I often combine travels with visiting friends and family. And they are notorious to pin down for specific dates that far in advance. Last trip I "thought" I had an arrangement with a visit and found out 1 week before my departure to Europe that this arrangement fell through. Not only did I loose my advance fare but more importantly I would not have booked my return flight for a Sunday morning as train options are very limited at that time to get you to the airport on time. That last visit was planned close to the airport, instead I ended up 150 km away.