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driving home for Christmas

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I never get tired of thinking about personal finance. As usual though, I’m tired in general. I can’t wait for Christmas and New Year - mostly because I have a 10 day stretch without any work, half of which I’ll spend with my family and the other half in my own house.

However, going *home* for Christmas means travelling - which is never free. I don’t have a car, so I go by train. The standard open return fare for my trip home is over £100. Buying in advance, with a non-flexible Advance Purchase ticket, it cost £10. That’s like a 90% saving.

book in advance

Travel in general is cheapest booked well in advance. Plane tickets need to be bought more than six months in advance to get the cheapest deals, and rail tickets probably a month in advance - depending on the popularity of the route/time.


If you need to fly somewhere at Xmas you probably should have bought your tickets already, although you may still be able to snap up a relative bargain if you’re willing to travel on either Christmas Day or (possibly) Boxing Day.

The following screenscrapers, metasearchers and brokers are reputed to give good results:

  • kayak
  • skyscanner
  • expedia
  • travelocity


If you need to get the train, now is the time to pin down the exact details of your journey(s) so you can try and bag one of the remaining advance purchase tickets.

thetrainline.com sent me an email telling me about a new farefinder tool that they have. If your journey is on one of their top 100 routes (generally between major cities), then it will tell you the lowest available ticket prices in four time categories in the week around a date you specify.

It’s a little convoluted to get to the ticket booking page, but it’s a nice idea. There’s similar functionality at Find Cheaper Rail Fares @ Transport Direct, which also has its limitations.

Wherever you buy your train tickets, watch out for booking fees, and don’t pay them. You can always get the exact same ticket without paying a booking fee as generally all the train operators can book tickets from anywhere to anywhere.


If you’re going to be driving, don’t forget to allow plenty of time - you can work out the best route and see anticipated congestion using the Transport Direct car journey planner - it also calculates the likely fuel costs of your journey.

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5 comments for “driving home for Christmas”

  1. I wouldn’t touch Expedia with a barge-pole: the first (and only) time I used them, to book a fairly lengthy flight with a stopover, they cancelled my booking on the morning of the flight itself! Grrr. I gather that one of my connections had been changed, but Expedia hadn’t updated their site. Doesn’t stop them from bombarding me with marketing e-mails though.

    I hadn’t come across the Transport Direct planner, so thanks for that - will definitely be checking it out!

    Posted by Miss Thrifty | December 1, 2008, 11:17 am
  2. I’ve never bought through Expedia - I use them for checking the cheapest flights and then normally book through the airline themselves as it’s worked out better for me. Don’t know whether anyone else has had any problems with them.

    Posted by plonkee | December 1, 2008, 8:22 pm
  3. I used to not like thetrainline.com but they have added some good features that you mention. The email alert is great and you have a screen shot of what I think they call their best fare tool or best fare finder. Its pretty good if you are flexible on the time of day you can travel.

    Posted by tom | December 2, 2008, 12:09 pm
  4. Cheaptickets.com is another great site that I use. They give you outstanding deals and charge a very minimal fee for the service. They are also great for long distance international flights.

    Posted by James | December 5, 2008, 5:22 pm
  5. I strictly recommend not to hold off until you get enough amount of cash to order different goods! You can just take the personal loans or just collateral loan and feel yourself fine

    Posted by KrisFowler | March 15, 2010, 5:00 pm

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