If you know you will be going back to the family home for Christmas, now is the time to book your tickets to make sure you don’t end up being charged far too much.
If your journey takes you across London and you usually use the underground to make a connection at a different London mainline station, 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.
It may also be cheaper to buy 2 advance singles rather than get 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 in theory, the rail companies have to be more transparent with their prices.
Here is an example of several ways to do the same journey in December, with very different prices:
Brighton to Liverpool on Friday 13th December, returning on Friday 3rd of January 2020
Booking for travel on the same day – £305 return or £204 with a 16 – 25 railcard
Train tickets via Southern enquiry – return, £113.60 – but 2 singles £102.00 (£68.34 with a 16 – 25 railcard)
Train tickets via ‘Red Spotted Hanky’ – return, £75 with a 16 – 25 railcard
Virgin train best fare finder website £67.30 with a 16 – 25 railcard
National Express coach travel, 2 x singles + booking fees = £55.30
Megabus – they don’t seem to travel from Brighton, so you would have to take extra (perhaps train) travel to and from London Victoria (£35.30) and 2 singles by megabus = £19.88, so overall £55.18
Using a bus typically takes twice as long, often more, so make sure you’ve got the stomach for it!
If you regularly travel across London and 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 learners 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. It’s a bit of a faff, but well worth it as the discount applies as long as both the Oyster and railcard are valid.
Make sure you book in advance to get the best deals and shop around the various sites to compare what you can get.
Early risers and flexible travellers can usually benefit from super off peak travel discounts.
Be warned and plan ahead; the railway will start to react badly to the winter weather so be prepared for delays and cancellations at the drop of a leaf. And don’t leave yourself just 15 minutes to cross from Victoria to Euston.
If you are on a booked train, make sure you are on the correct train as penalty fares are astronomical.
If you’ve got a 16 – 25 railcard, make sure it is in date and if this is an app, and your tickets on your mobile, make sure your phone is charged. Apologies if this sounds patronising, but it is easy and very costly to come unstuck.
Check advance notices for festive disruptions
Whichever route and method, safe travels and if you have good tips to share, please tell us.
Student Advice Service