I travel to and from university by train. It can be a nightmare carrying all of my bags with me and trying to get them to fit in the luggage racks, but I try and make travelling less of a pain by saving money on transport. Here’s my top tips.
Travel by train:
Book as early as possible!
Train tickets can sometimes be booked up to 10 weeks before travel. Advanced tickets are available online only, and are released in tiers, getting gradually more expensive as more are sold. It’s a good idea to book early if you know you’re travelling for definite and at what time – as advanced tickets are so cheap it’s also wise to recognise that they’re inflexible, they’re only eligible for use on the train and time specified. It’s handy to book an advanced ticket if you know you’re heading home on a certain date, and it doesn’t matter what time you arrive.
Get a railcard!
Railcards are an absolute must for those of you who are travelling by train often. They may cost money but by cutting a third off your rail travel, you make this money back quickly through your savings. Some banks offer a free railcard as part of their student account package, so have a look and see if you can find one (I got mine free with my bank and it’s covered me for the whole 3 years of uni!)
Travelling off-peak can save you a great deal of money. Travelling after 7pm is usually much cheaper than travelling during rush hour.
Buying individual tickets for the different parts of your journey can work out cheaper than travelling on a single ticket for the entire trip. For example, if you were travelling from Place A to Place C (via Place B) it might be cheaper to buy two separate tickets: one from Place A to Place B, and then another from Place B to Place C.
This doesn’t mean changing trains – the same train is going from Place A to Place C and as long as it actually does stop at Place B your tickets are totally valid according to National Rail rules. It’s worth having a look at this – Raileasy have a great split ticketing tool.
Travel by coach:
Both Megabus and National Express have plenty of coaches travelling out of Cardiff, and they have tools on their website to allow you to find their lowest fares. It’s worth Googling discount codes to see if there are any codes live to give you money off your travel, and if you subscribe to their mailing lists, they often offer really low fares at certain points of the year (my housemate got from Cardiff to London for £5 with National Express.)
Just like a railcard, National Express do a Young Person’s Coachcard for £10 a year, which entitles you to up to 1/3 off standard fares.
NUS also give a 10% student discount on Megabus travel.
Travel by air:
Travel at the cheapest times
Flight prices vary depending on the time you want to travel. Sites like Skyscanner let you compare flight prices across the whole month, so you can see when the cheapest time to fly is.
Fly from an alternative airport
It might work out cheaper to travel to a different UK airport via coach and fly from there as opposed to Cardiff. Bristol and London are easy to access from Cardiff and cheap as well and if you don’t mind adding an extra couple of hours to your journey in order to save money, it might be worth a look.
Do you have any top tips for saving money on travel whilst at Uni? Share them below!