Top Tips for UK Rail Travel!

May 31, 2014

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It’s been a little while since I have written a travel post so I thought it was time to whip one out! Following on from my plane tips, I thought we could move onto rail tips! I love trains, like a lot. I think that they are probably the best way to travel – so comfy, can wander round and you usually get an epic view of the surrounds whilst you’re on there. I’ve had some cracking train journeys through Europe – probably Austria to Hungary being the best! But for some reason, train travel in the UK can be extortionate! Prices can easily jump to the hundreds at peak time which to me is just a joke. So hopefully a few of this tips will have you save a penny!

1. Book in advance – fixed, off peak trains
I know it seems simple but some people think you can get bargains a couple of days before travel – those people are wrong. It’s not like planes, the prices will go up and up and it’s a fortune to buy on board. Search for a good price, choose fixed trains and try and go at a weird time. I much prefer taking an afternoon off and going at 2pm than forking out about £100 to go at 6! Saturday mornings are a great time to travel as well.

2. Railcards, railcards, railcards!
If you can get one then do!! They usually take a third off all train fares which can put some fares even in the affordable range. The 16-25 one I use is about £30 but pays for itself in 2-3 trips so if you’re on the train a few times a year then it is time to invest because you will use it! They have also brought out a new couples rail card so if you travel often with a partner then that is a good option! The railcard website is here.

3. Never go first class
I know it’s tempting, you’re on the national rail site and the little box tells you that it’s only 6, 10, 100 pounds to upgrade your journey! But don’t fall for that. My experience on first class trains is average food, crappy wifi and exactly the same seat size but in a different colour. Buy something yummy at the train station before you go, try and pre book a seat with a table and enjoy a few hours technology free! Save your pennies for when you get there!

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4. Work with your oyster
This is more for us Londoners, but first if you have a railcard you can add this to your oyster to save on fares around the city. If you’re taking a longer journey and get a monthly travel card for day zones 1-5, you can get the ticket office to issue you a train ticket from the boundary of your Oyster card which can usually save you a little!

5. Work with the websites!
If you sign up to a train company website then you can usually get some good offers emailed through to you. I have family up in Manchester and if Virgin is having a sale then I will snap it up and book a holiday for when that is! Easy.
Also look into the 2 for 1 London website, if you travel anywhere on national rail then you can get 2 for 1 at heaps of London attractions and restaurants. It also works if you get the train somewhere short such as vauxhall to Victoria (all of one stop), spend £3 to save £25 on zoo entry – yes please!

6. Know when to admit defeat and get the bus
I know, I know, the bus is just never as good as the train for me. But sometimes if you have to choose between a 90 minute train journey for £40 or a 2 and a bit hour bus journey for £5 – time to suck it up! This is especially true for the London – Bristol route which I used to do quite frequently!

Anyway, I hope some of those tips were new and helpful for you! Not so much if you’re outside of the UK but maybe when you’re on holiday they will!

Do you have any train tips?

JC xx

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