I travel on an ad hoc basis: the weather and the terrain can beat me...and I don't like to hammer thru the countryside to meet some dealine(and what if you have a mechanical breakdown,apuncture) So I buy the ticket on the day. That costs: usually more!
When my wife and I came thru Germany earlier this year it WAS NOT simple. Any rural station has no staff,just a machine. To get the right ticket from the machine you have to understand the machine,then put in the prescribed money in the prescribed notes. It aint easy. We had a German Rail employee and his wife help us: it took an hour. And when we proceeded with the machine given ticket the German guard was asking for more £: some regions of Germany charge for bikes,others don't.
Don't let me put you off: I'm now ready to take on any SAS assault course,cos...you often had to lug your bike(s)and panniers up steep flights of stairs to get to the platforms(first,lug your bike down a steep set of stairs,walk underground,then lug 'em up again) Oh! and I forgot: you gotta get onto the train: that's up,and often thru a very narrow opening...and with another cyclist with his and her bikes there already. Oh! and the trains waiting to go...and when you try to get off,ready to leave...with your wife and her luggage still on it. I really don't know how we did it. On reflection I think I'm almost falling in love with the British Railway network...a real first! Back to the above: Germans were coming to us with bikes to ask our advice on what they should pay for bikes from the machine(s). I wondered aloud what should happen if you were blind or illiterate or couldn't follow the techno wizadry instructions form the machines...or were just foreign. How do you get the ticket? No one knew. Of course,this helps the major rail companies: you just pay for the highest ticket.
I'd say,if you can,fly. It's cheaper. And tho you may have kittens thinking your bike may be in pieces the other end,usually it isn't. The whole travelling thing I find very stressful. To go into all what can happen...is the stuff of nightmares. Thank G I do it rarely. I need therapy or anxiolytics after most raiwayl journeys.