Best times to travel on planes, trains and buses

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to travel.

No-one wants to miss a flight or train departure, but it also pays to explore if there are better times in the day or week to travel that can make your journey more enjoyable or affordable.

Air travel

The best time of the day to travel by air is as early as you can possibly manage.

This is because just one delayed flight can set off a cascade of delays or cancellations that have the potential to escalate as the day goes on.

If you get an early flight, you reduce your chances of being caught up in that maelstrom.

Also, the earlier you fly, if your flight is cancelled, the more options you have to get on a later flight.

Airfares also tend to be a tad cheaper in the more unsociable hours. So if you can face dragging your body to an airport early, there are a lot of wins.

Check out when the school holidays are scheduled and avoid those dates and beware of the dreaded ‘schoolies’ period, which is not on any official school calendars. It runs from 18 November to 3 December this year if you want to avoid south-east Queensland and Byron Bay over that time.

If you are looking for cheaper deals, the best days to book are Tuesday and Wednesday, which are far enough away from the start and end of the weekend for people who like to add a few days to stretch out their time away.

Train travel

Naturally, if you are planning to travel by train on a public transport schedule, especially if you have a lot of luggage, avoid peak times. And this may not necessarily be about the 9am and 5pm rushes.

Plenty of regional areas now serve as commuter belts and rush hour can last anywhere from 7am on.

It’s a good idea to get hold of a schedule to work out the best times to travel, for price and convenience.

Many train networks will offer off-peak discounts, but for many it’s a set per-day price, so it’s worth finding out the difference if you’re on a budget.


Unlike planes, buses usually conveniently depart and arrive in the city centre and more ‘niche’ destinations don’t rely on infrastructure such as rail lines or train stations.

However, very much like trains, it’s a good idea to avoid peak times if the bus is on a public transport schedule.

If the view is just as important as the destination, try mid-morning or early afternoon departure times to get the best out of the journey.

If you are looking for bus or train schedules and prices, try this amazing site, Wanderu, a search platform that helps travellers find the best bus and train tickets across North America, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

For Asia, try 12go, for train, bus and ferry routes across Asia from India to Indonesia.

Also research if there is a ‘tourist’ option. Some destinations will have a discount public transport pass for tourists that includes discount or free sightseeing entry to potentially save you hundreds.

Do you prefer a particular time of the day to travel? Does it depend on which mode of travel you are using? Why not share you experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Six reasons why you should visit Japan

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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