Buying Cheap Train Tickets for your Next Vacation

Buying cheap train tickets often makes for good budget travel, but it might not fit the picture of a traditional family vacation. For that kind of trip, most think of a mini-van and a multi-city itinerary.

But if you want to tour major cities, why deal with expensive fuel and parking costs?

Train travel isn't always the most efficient way to move, but if your itinerary includes larger cities (with rail hubs to match), you must take a look at rail options.

The articles linked below will put you on the platform with information designed to minimize cost and increase efficiency. You'll learn about common mistakes, the pitfalls of car rentals vs. train trips, stations that are well-connected to what you want to see, and even a few examples of train trips that worked out well for a particular region of the world.

 

  • 01 of 08

    8 Common Train Travel Mistakes

    ••• (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    All those varieties or rail passes, first-class options, and other premium services can enhance a budget trip, but will also introduce levels of complexity and confusion that can be costly. Before you set foot in a train station or validate your rail pass, it's important to recognize eight common train travel mistakes that could cost you time and money. 

  • 02 of 08
    Amtrak can be a money-saving alternative for some budget travelers.
    ••• Alex Wong/Getty Images News

    Let's weigh the costs of train tickets against a car rental. But there might be more to the equation than out-of-pocket costs. Aside from the financial numbers, what are the advantages and disadvantages of stepping aboard the train and leaving the car rental for another trip? What are the times when a train trip presents too much time-consuming inconvenience?

  • 03 of 08

    7 Well-Connected Amtrak Stations

    A view along Michigan Avenue in Chicago
    ••• (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    Amtrak connects America's major cities with multiple lines, but some places are better connected to what you want to see than others. A few are not even big cities, but smaller places blessed with surrounding scenic beauty. Take the time to consider 7 well-connected Amtrak stations that could serve as starting points for a budget travel rail adventure. 

  • 04 of 08
    In big cities, mass transportation makes for an easier visit.
    ••• Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    Many people would rather not drive to attractions in a big city such as New York, so they make plans to park the car. But what will such parking cost in places where real estate for any use comes at a premium price? Add up the parking costs and find out.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Budget Travel by Train on the U.S. East Coast

    Boston makes a great budget travel train escape.
    ••• Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    The plan: fly to Boston, take trains to New York and Washington, D.C., and then fly home. The family mini-van stays in the garage. Such a trip is possible, but is it practical for a budget traveler? Consider how it worked for one family in three well-connected U.S. train hubs.

  • 06 of 08
    ••• (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    London has enough attractions to keep visitors busy for days or even weeks. But you might want to branch out across the English countryside for a day or two, and London trains can connect you to great cities such as Oxford, Cambridge, or Bath. These places are well within a half-day of travel from London, and well worth the investment of time. For budget travelers who shop carefully, there are bargain tickets to be found.  

  • 07 of 08

    Visit Europe's Great Small Cities

    ••• (c)Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com

    You know about London, Vienna, and Paris, but have you been to Gmunden, Austria? This great small city is well-connected to the major rail lines, but most visitors to Europe never make it to the shores of its beautiful alpine lakes or scale its surrounding mountain heights. It's important to discover Europe's great small cities, most of which are easily visited with a rail ticket.

  • 08 of 08
    Subway travel is efficient and frequently cheaper than driving.
    ••• Mark Kahler, under an arrangement with About.com
    In many cities, visitors can buy day or multi-day passes for mass transit. With the savings involved, you actually make an economical form of transportation even more affordable. It's good news when gas prices are soaring.