It is actually surprisingly easy to travel around the UK on the cheap – you just have to know where to look. If you book a high-speed train at the last-minute, chances are you’ll be paying a fairly extortionate price.
But if you can be flexible and are open to taking the slower travel options, there are plenty of services that’ll have you crossing the country without breaking the bank.
1. Be organised
Always try to book your tickets in advance and make sure you check a few different providers as prices can vary a fair bit, even for the exact same connection. Some sites like London Midland and CrossCountry have handy “best fare finder” tools that highlight the cheapest total journey combination across your selected travel times. Or better yet, take a look on comparison websites for an overview of all your travel options – GoEuro’s search tool incorporates buses, trains and flights on one platform.
2. Find a travel buddy
If you plan to be hopping on and off those trains, there are heaps of different railcards available which offer great savings of at least a third. The new Two Together Railcard gives two travellers a third off fares, given that they travel together – quite sweet really, and it’s just £30 between the two of you for the card which lasts a year.
3. Go super off-peak
Early afternoon journeys on trains often come at a super off-peak rate, which brings down ticket prices drastically, particularly on busy commuter routes. Megabus, meanwhile, often has fairly inconvenient early morning and late night journey times, but when they come in at as little as £1, it really pays to be flexible.
4. Follow providers on Twitter and keep up to date with deals
Most providers operate seasonal promotions, particularly in the summer months. Watch out for London Midland’s “Great Escape” deal which tends to run over the half-term holidays. For as little as £15 you can get unlimited travel across its network, which stretches from London up to Liverpool, and this can often be combined with 2 for 1 offers on various attractions – making for a perfect little day trip. National Express, among providers, is constantly tweeting its current offers, so you can stay in the loop without being inundated with promotional emails.
5. Share your ride
Though car sharing has yet to quite take off in the UK the way it has in the rest of Europe, it’s definitely worth doing a quick scan on networks like Carpooling which connect drivers with spots in their car and passengers looking for a ride. Cuts down your carbon emissions and costs too!