How early to book trains?

Old Jul 11, 17, 2:45 pm
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How early to book trains?

I'll be arriving in FRA on 10Aug 10:30am. I intend to immediately travel to stuttgart.
Later on, I plan to travel to Paris on 11 Aug and then London 13 Aug. I don't mind booking these two in advance, however I would prefer some flexibility on the the FRA-Suttgart trip since I can't predict if my flight will be delayed.

How far in advance should I book these trains?
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Old Jul 11, 17, 4:07 pm
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I book as early as possible. Usually because of time zone differences I can book at 12.01am on the day booking opens. It is at that time that special offers are available, for example, upgrade to 1st class for only 10. By 12:15 am those offers are gone and some seats have already been taken.
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Old Jul 12, 17, 9:59 am
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Well, I'll be traveling in less than a month so it might be too late for those deals.
I'm more concerned about the trains filling up and not being able to get a ticket or ticket prices rising to "exhortation" prices (like with airplane tickets)

I don't mind booking ahead of time but I have a concern doing this with my FRA - stuttgart trip since I can't predict if my flight will be delayed. I'd prefer to buy that ticket at the station or on my phone if I can.
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Old Jul 12, 17, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by eng3 View Post
Well, I'll be traveling in less than a month so it might be too late for those deals.
I'm more concerned about the trains filling up and not being able to get a ticket or ticket prices rising to "exhortation" prices (like with airplane tickets)

I don't mind booking ahead of time but I have a concern doing this with my FRA - stuttgart trip since I can't predict if my flight will be delayed. I'd prefer to buy that ticket at the station or on my phone if I can.
Actually, the price for your FRA-ZWS (Stuttgart Hbf) trip will never rise beyond 65 EUR per person for a single ride in second class, as this would be the fare for a fully flexible ticket on that route. Actually, I would suggest buying that one (you can even do so 5 minutes before the departure of the train at ticket machines or the counter in the station), as this route will actually be served by 1.5 trains per hour (departing at :54 every hour, and at :21 every odd hour), while every second :54 train requires changing in Mannheim. Depending on how quick you are out of the airport or how much delay you might face, you can just hop onto the next available train. With a non-flex ticket you'll have to buy a new ticket at 65 EUR anyway in case of a delay (or factor in lots of time reserve), while the pre-purchases one will just expire, so depending on how much you would pay for a non-flex ticket, the stakes might be a bit high.

Furthermore, if you are lucky, you might even be able to save a few EUR when only purchasing the ticket at the station, as non-flex tickets might even be available on the day of your departure, if the "fare class" still has availability (that's a relatively new feature).
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Old Nov 1, 17, 4:08 am
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I was curious about this as well.

I have a fairly flexible and loose trip across Europe planned, I will land in Holland and will catch a cheap flight from Kiev a couple of weeks later, the only thing that will be set in stone is my departure date from Kiev. The path I take and the cities I stop in are completely up in the air.

Can I rely on booking train tickets a few days in advance or should I try and have a more cement plan in advance?
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Old Nov 1, 17, 4:16 am
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Originally Posted by onuhistorian0116 View Post
I was curious about this as well.

I have a fairly flexible and loose trip across Europe planned, I will land in Holland and will catch a cheap flight from Kiev a couple of weeks later, the only thing that will be set in stone is my departure date from Kiev. The path I take and the cities I stop in are completely up in the air.

Can I rely on booking train tickets a few days in advance or should I try and have a more cement plan in advance?
Sounds like a Eurail/Interrail pass might work for you, and it gives complete flexibility
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Old Nov 1, 17, 12:11 pm
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Originally Posted by onuhistorian0116 View Post
Can I rely on booking train tickets a few days in advance or should I try and have a more cement plan in advance?
Most European trains are "turn up and go". They would be useless if you could not get tickets at the last moment. In Germany you will always be able to get a ticket from anywhere to anywhere, even just seconds before departure. The same applies to about every other country, except maybe Spain and Portugal.
(In Switzerland where I live I usually buy my ticket a few minutes before travel on my smartphone)
Even where it says that "reservation is compulsory" that does not mean you cannot get tickets at the last moment. in France they will even sell you a ticket for a TGV without an assigned seat if all seats are booked. It's up to you to hunt for a no-show, or if all else fails, you can sit in the bar, or on one of the fold up seats in the vestibules.

No,you do not need to set your plans in stone. Train travel is remarkably flexible. The only reason to really book in advance (if you can) is to save money.
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Old Nov 6, 17, 9:33 am
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Originally Posted by onuhistorian0116 View Post
I was curious about this as well.

I have a fairly flexible and loose trip across Europe planned, I will land in Holland and will catch a cheap flight from Kiev a couple of weeks later, the only thing that will be set in stone is my departure date from Kiev. The path I take and the cities I stop in are completely up in the air.

Can I rely on booking train tickets a few days in advance or should I try and have a more cement plan in advance?
Trains are cheaper in advance, like airfares, but then you're locked into an itinerary. It's a trade off based on your preferences. Short train rides it doesn't matter much but longer hi speed or international trains can get pricey on last minute tickets, especially in western and Central Europe. A pass usually works out somewhere in the middle to high end of that range, but really depends on your trip.

I usually travel quick and far with not much planning but usually travel only every second day. Pass has made sense once or twice but usually just buy any very expensive routes in advance and plan a little around that, allowing flexibility otherwise. Look for day tickets, or in Germany the various offers eg. lander and regional day passes, etc. Passes in some countries are restricted making last minute long distance travel all but impossible at times (*cough* France).

I did Frankfurt to Kiev in 3 weeks a few years ago, enjoy - it's a beautiful trip!
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Old Dec 11, 17, 7:38 am
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Hi!

In my experience, it actually depends from the train you're using. Fast trains, such as the French TGV, will need booking as soon as possible, because the later you'll book, the more you'll shell out.

But if you're willing to go a little slower, you can use regional trains (French TER, for example) and then you can just arrive at the train station 20 minutes before departure, buy a ticket and hop in.
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Old Dec 19, 17, 4:42 am
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Originally Posted by KayVeeBee View Post
Most European trains are "turn up and go". The same applies to about every other country, except maybe Spain and Portugal.
You can, of course, buy last minute tickets in Spain and Portugal. Buying them in advance (like in every other European country) can net bargains.
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