For those of us making travel plans over the festive period, things can get a bit hectic come December, so try to plan ahead and get your tickets as far in advance as possible.
If your journey takes you through London and you have to travel from one mainline London station to another, it can often be cheaper to buy advance singles into and out of London. Make sure you compare the price of separate and complete one way journeys.
Likewise, it may also be cheaper to buy 2 advance singles rather than a return. Most travel search facilities should now let you see the difference in price between a return and 2 singles as instructed by the Office for Rail and Road. This means that that the rail companies have to be more transparent with their prices.
If you regularly travel across London and you use your contactless bank card each time you travel, you may be missing out on additional discounts which Oyster card holders enjoy. If you have a 16-25 railcard (also available to full-time mature leaners over 25!) you may not know that you can marry your 16 – 25 railcard to your Oyster and save 1/3 on single off-peak pay as you go fares on London Underground/DLR. You must register your Oyster card first then go to a London Underground ticket office/Oyster Ticket Shops to get the discount applied. Its a bit of a faff, but well worth it as the discount applies as long as both the Oyster and railcard are valid.
Here are some of the most popular advance ticket opportunities:
- Virgin trains best fare finder suggests the best deals for certain routes and if you can be flexible you can get excellent savings on popular routes if you buy in advance.
- GWR are now booking up to April 2019 so there may be savings still to get on those routes further ahead.
- Trainline’s alert tool allows you to see how far in advance you can purchase tickets on different routes and with different ticket providers.
It may be unseasonably warm weather now, but come the end of term (or even next week) the railway will start to react badly to the cold so be prepared for delays and cancellations at the drop of a leaf. Our best advice is plan ahead but be prepared – don’t leave yourself just 15 minutes to cross from Victoria to Euston.
Check advance notices for festive disruptions, particularly for local routes such as Southern who have published their festive timetable already, which will run alongside the long term engineering works which are currently happening
For those of you not bus adverse and particularly if there’s an airport involved in your journey, you could do worse than consider wheels rather than rails. National Express advertise advance fares and do great deals to the airports and Megabus could also be an option for some, although their routes are somewhat limited. If you buy a ticket in November they are offering a £5 discount for a further journey in mid Jan – mid Feb which might appeal to some.
Whichever route and whatever method, safe travels and if you have good tips to share, please tell us
Student Advice Service