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Better Off Single? Single Train Tickets vs Returns

When you see an offer being plugged for cheap travel, it usually goes along the lines of ‘Cheap Away Day Returns.’

Rarely, if ever, do the ads promote ‘Cheap Away Day Singles’, presumably working on the assumption that, wherever you’re going, you want to get back home at some point.

So, when you’re booking a train journey is it always cheaper to buy a return ticket, or can two single tickets work out cheaper?

The answer is not straightforward: sometimes, but it varies.

The price you pay for your ticket depends on a few things:

  • How far in advance you book your ticket
  • The route, date and time you’re travelling
  • The type of ticket you’re buying

The cheapest ticket option available on the National Rail network tends to be Advance Single tickets.

These popular tickets are often super cheap because of how early they can be booked (they’re available 12 weeks before the date of travel).

While these tickets only come as Single options, you can be savvy and mix and match two Advance Single tickets to make up a return journey.  

The best way to find the cheapest option available is to search for your journey on a rail website or app. The cheapest ticket options should automatically be highlighted.

Price prediction tools can also give you a heads up as to when the cost of that ticket will go up. You can, quite literally, see the price going up before your eyes so you can book at the very best price.

Be warned, you will not be offered the cheapest deals if you’re trying to buy your tickets at a railway station machine. Go online to bag the best bargains.