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The ABC of travelling by train

Book train tickets in advance
As with most modes of transport, booking train travel as far in advance as possible is the way to get the cheapest fares. As soon as you have decided upon your dates and a destination, you should register the details with Trainline’s ticket alert system. You will then be emailed as soon as the cheapest advance tickets come on sale. You will need to be quick off the mark. Tickets are limited at the lowest price and tend to go quickly.

Avoid express trains
Avoid costly airport express trains and take the normal service instead. A standard return on the Southern train from London Victoria station to Gatwick airport costs £21.80, whereas the Gatwick Express fare is £28.80. Yet Southern says its fast service takes only five minutes longer.
If you are flying from Heathrow, consider taking the tube instead of the Heathrow Express from London Paddington station. A standard return on the Heathrow Express costs £32. A single tube ticket from central London to Heathrow is just £4.

The National Rail website has a page devoted to special promotions all over the country, including discounted rates, two-for-one offers and group savings. In some cases buying two single journeys beats one return journey on price, because most of the best deals are available only as singles.
If you are booking in advance you can bag fares for as low as £1 return on the Megatrain website, which covers train routes in the south-west of England and the East Midlands.
Splitting your train tickets can save you a fortune compared with buying the whole journey in one. Rather than buying a straight return from London to Penzance with National Rail for £260, for example, buy four tickets – from London to Plymouth, Plymouth to Penzance, Penzance to Plymouth and Plymouth to London – you’ll pay just over £50 (a saving of £210).
If you are still think plastic is fantastic, when it comes to big meals out or hotel bills overseas then opt for credit not debit cards to settle up. Most debit cards levy a fee, sometimes referred to as a handling fee (typically 2.75%), on all purchases overseas. Some credit cards, by contrast, offer low, or no, charges for usage abroad.

Other Successful 48-hour destinations

Amalfi, Italy
Groningen, Holland
Tallinn, Estonia

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Executive Traveller 2003