So after staring at a map for week and months, you’ve finally decided where you’re heading on your next adventure. Yes, the U.K, that dreamy land of tea, Kings, and Queens and good manners has caught your eye.
But did you know the U.K has one of the best public transport systems in the world? Here’s what you need to know about getting around.
Book in Advance
If there’s one piece of advice you need to follow above all when traveling to the U.K it’s to book in advance. Don’t wait until a few weeks before you head out. Plan your route and book in your transport as soon as you can.
Because unless you are planning on taking luxury transport around those sacred isles, not booking in advance can cost some serious pounds.
Trains, planes, and buses charge a premium for last minute bookings and not just by a few pounds. The fare can double or even triple from one day-to-the-next and if you turn up and buy a train ticket on the day be prepared to pay serious pounds to stand for the whole journey.
The Big Smoke
London is also a different ball game. If you’re traveling from anywhere into London by train be prepared to pay extra, particularly if you want to hit the big smoke before 12 pm. Here’s how to get cheap transport to London.
As the commuter capital, you’ll be taking up a valuable seat that a commuter needs to get to work; the system is designed to discourage travelers who don’t need to be in London first thing in the morning. A regular return from the middle of the country that lets you travel at any time can easily set you back over £100 whereas a super off-peak return with a railcard is only around £40.
Also, remember in London that the Tube is going to be rammed first thing in the morning and between 5-7pm so avoid traveling at this time if you can.
Your Oyster card is not just about the tube, there is also a boat across the Thames and the famous red buses which can sometimes be a better option.
Railcards vs Coach Cards
Talking of London, another top tip is to consider purchasing a 16-25 railcard or to inquire about a 26-30 railcard, a new scheme currently in the process of being rolled out in the near future. For the relatively cheap price of £30 you can get one-third of all rail fares so if you’re savvy you can earn this money back on the savings you’ll make with one journey.
A railcard can also be used in conjunction with an Oyster card so you can also get one-third of tube and bus fares, as well. The discount doesn’t yet work with contactless cards on the tube and buses so it is still worth getting yourself an Oyster card.
You’ll need to go and flag down a Transport for London employee at the tube station and get them to link your railcard and your oyster card for you but its well worth the wait.
Oyster now has an app that lets you top up your card from your mobile rather than having to queue to top up at the station.
National Express runs a similar scheme for coach journeys called a coach card that gives you a third off coach travel. This could also be an option, depending on your preference. You could think about purchasing both if you know you’re going to be traveling by bus and train.
Planes, Planes, Planes
In general, unlike countries like the U.S, you don’t really need to catch flights to travel the U.K. But there are some exceptions. Sometimes super cheap flights are available and can be more convenient when traveling from the south to Scotland.
Most people have heard about Gatwick and Heathrow. But did you know that Leeds, the East Midlands, Exeter, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, to name a few, all have their own airports with domestic flights?
It may also surprise you to know that there is the option to travel by private plane. Yep, you heard right.
Increasingly services like Wingly, which have been dubbed the “Uber of the skies,” are linking up qualified pilots looking to increase their flying hours with passengers who want a lift or a day trip out to some of the more remote places in the U.K for affordable rates. Sometimes it can even work out cheaper than catching a bus or a plane and the prices don’t generally increase over time.
This is also super convenient if you’re short on time and want to do some of the far-out Scottish islands or the Isle of Man or the Isle of Wight because flying in a private one or two-seater allows you to see them in just one day.
Also, don’t forget to check out our five top tips to help you prepare before boarding a flight to make sure your journey is stress-free.
If you’re traveling to the U.K then a short trip across the water to the island of Ireland is a must! Remember that although there is currently no border between them, the south is a different country so you’ll need to stock up on Euros and be prepared to change your SIM card if you want to see the republic.
As well as flights from most major airports, there is an overnight ferry for Dublin which leaves from Liverpool, the home of the Beatles. You may want to plan your travels around this, taking in some of the sites of the south and the North of England before heading eastward.
So What Is the Cheapest Way to Travel?
Travel prices in the U.K vary so much that there is simply no straightforward answer to this question. There are so many different options, often you have a choice. So it’s better to do your research and book in advance to make sure you get the best deal.
Are you planning your own trip to England? Or have you already been? What were your experiences on getting around and what is the cheapest way to travel for you? Get in touch and let us know, we’d love to hear from you.
Make sure you check out the rest of our advice in our travel section here.