Going home for Christmas can be a really exciting time. You can just about smell the mince pies and feel the thrill of a month off from uni as soon as your suitcase is packed! What isn’t too exciting is the pricey train tickets that you need to buy after already having spent money on presents and mulled wine. However, do not fear. This is our guide to getting the cheapest train tickets home for Christmas, so that you and your bank account can relax and enjoy heading home for the holidays, overdraft free!

1. Buy in advance

This is a great rule of thumb for buying train tickets all year round. Train companies tend to release tickets around 12 weeks before the travel date, so the sooner the better! Check your term dates as soon as possible in the semester and pin down the date you’ll be heading homewards, and purchase a ticket accordingly. Buying one as early as September could save you a huge amount as ticket prices can nearly double the closer to the date you get!

2. Use a 16-25 railcard

16-25 railcard

A 16-25 railcard is another great saving hack for savings in general. You simply need to be between the ages of 16 and 25 to buy one, and have £30 a year to do so. They’re certainly worth the small fee though, as you save a third on all train journeys all year round. The 16-25 site also has a bunch of great deals for students, like discounts on theatre tickets, too!

3. Travel as a group 

If you and your pals are heading in the same direction or to the same destination for the Christmas holidays then you could qualify for Trainline’s Groupsave discount. Groups of 3-9 people who are travelling together can get up to 34% off on UK Travel on certain Off-Peak journeys. This is a great discount to take advantage of and also would make for a fun journey home to spend with your friends!

4. Split your train tickets

If you’ve got a bit more time to spare and don’t mind a longer train journey, then it can be more affordable to split your journey up rather than buying a direct trip. The Trainline app has a SplitSave feature that will do the work for you and find a cheaper alternative for your route home. You could save some money and also use the time to make a start on that Christmas coursework or exam prep- it’s a win win!

5. Do some research and look out for deals

If you haven’t been able to bag your tickets months in advance and don’t have the extra cash for a railcard, then don’t worry! Train companies always have some great deals for those looking to travel at busier times. If you travel off-peak or in the evening, then this is another great way to get a deal on your regular train prices. You can check out Trainline’s train ticket deals, offers and discounts page to see if there’s any that you can snap up for some last minute savings.

Christmas is a busy and expensive time for everyone, especially students! And train companies really acknowledge this, so have lots of options for those of us looking to save money on our journeys home for Christmas. Hopefully with our guide to getting cheap train tickets home you’ll have a bit more cash to go towards the essentials like festive food and booze, rather than  on those pesky train fares.