How to travel in the UK on a budget
The UK may not be that big, but the amount it costs to travel between major cities can be disproportionately high, when compared to mainland Europe. Many of us have friends at all different universities across the country, plus we’ve quickly realised that our family isn’t as bad as we thought and deserve some good home cooked food now and again!
The best way to travel in the UK without blowing the budget is to plan in advance. So whether you go by train, plane or automobile here are all the tips and tricks you need to get home cheaply or, make the most of those long university weekends.
The British rail network is a source of unending confusion, fare prices rise every year and you need at least a Phd to buy a ticket without assistance. But the system isn’t infallible there are ways to travel by train without spending a fortune or, being ripped off.
A 16-25 railcard is a great addition to your wallet. For just £30 a year anyone aged between, you guessed it, 16 and 25 can get a third off rail fares anywhere in the UK. You are also eligible for this card if you are over 25 and in full-time education. The only catch is that you have spend over £12 on your journey or travel after 10am Monday to Friday to use the discount but, at the weekend you still get to use your discount even on super off-peak fares. To save even more money check out Student Money Saver for deals on railcards.
Read our 4 top 16-25 Railcard promos and discounts here to save more money.
Book in Advance
One of the worst kept secrets of rail travel is that if you book in advance you can slash ticket prices by nearly half! The fare price on major routes is released 12 weeks in advance by most booking websites and this is the best day to book your travel. Here is the proof - If I buy a one-way ticket from London Euston to Birmingham for tomorrow on the Trainline it will cost me £29.40. If I buy one for 12 weeks time it will cost just £5.50. What you could do with an extra £24?
Failed to Prepare?
Even if you aren’t good at forward planning there are still ways to avoid paying a full fare. The best way to travel cheaply last minute is to make sure its off-peak and that you are in a group. If you travel in a group of 3-9 people you will save a third on all your fares. Just make sure you go and come home together or a fine could counteract all your hard work.
Just like train fares, getting a good deal on airfares is all about booking in advance. The only difference is that there is a choice of airlines and competition means deals, offers and savings.
Although you are never going to get crazy deals on internal flights you can save money by comparing prices from different airlines. Using Sky Scanner is a great way to check how choosing a different date, flight time or airline could affect the cost of your trip.
Sign up to all the budget airlines mailing lists to be the first to know about flash sales. Remember to check the website over bank holiday weekends and around big events as the airlines often capitalise on these days and have 24 hour sales.
Megabus offers one-way fares from just £1 on 90 routes across the country and you can book up to 6 weeks in advance. Most of their services have on-board toilets and some offer Wi-Fi. It is by no means deluxe but it does the job.
National Express on the face of it doesn’t seem cheaper than Megabus but there are options that can make it great value for money; fares start from £5 one-way, busy routes have Wi-Fi, every coach has toilet facilities and you can book nearly a year in advance. There is also the option of buying a Young Persons Coachcard that for £10 a year saves you a third on journeys and much like on rail travel, group discounts are available.
So do your research, get planning and get booking all your trips for the upcoming term to get yourself the best deals on UK travel.