Booking journey legs separately

Sometimes it is good to book some legs of your journey separately because the booking horizon (how far in advance you can book) varies between rail companies in Europe. For example, Eurostar bookings usually open 180 days in advance, compared to three months for most other trains. So you can get started early with the Eurostar section of your journey and then book the rest when the booking opens. You can set a booking alert so that you don't miss the other tickets being released. 

Reasons to book your tickets separately 

To get the cheapest tickets. The main reason for booking journey legs separately is to secure the cheapest tickets on each leg before the entire journey becomes available. The cheapest tickets are usually non-flexible (non-exchangeable & non-refundable) and, therefore, don't permit amendment if your plans change or if the separate legs of your journey don't match up for some reason. A notable exception is Eurostar, which does not offer non-flexible fares; however, passengers are able to exchange tickets up to the day of departure, and Business Premier tickets are fully refundable. If you do wish to split your trip, it is good to be aware of the risk.    

To make the most of a special offer. We regularly let our customers know about special offers and flash sales so you might want to snap these up for one leg of a journey. 

If you do intend to split your journey, especially if the change requires changing stations, you should factor in a generous transfer or interchange so that you have some leeway if there are timetable amendments. 

Reasons to wait and book your tickets together

To book a discounted “through-fare.” There are sometimes discounted "through-tickets" which are the same price or cheaper than buying separate fares. For example "French Connection" fares to popular French cities combine the Eurostar and TGV into one. They can be bought three months in advance, compared to 180 days (Eurostar) and three months (TGV). 

To get a discounted return fare. A few European train operators in Europe offer a discount for return tickets, notably UK Open Returns. However, with most European trains the cost of a return ticket is twice the one-way fare. 

Other points to consider:

  • Book flexible tickets. If you think your plans might change you should consider buying more flexible tickets that permit a refund or exchange. Of course these will be more expensive, so it's up to you to consider the cost vs. savings of booking ahead or just waiting until all parts of your journey are available.
  • Get travel insurance. If you are considering splitting your booking, please take care to arrange suitable travel insurance which has appropriate cover for cancellation.