How to Travel Cheaply in the UK

How to Travel Cheaply in the UK

London is just one city in the UK.

But with the cost of travelling in the country so ridiculously high, can you blame so many visitors for not venturing beyond the capital?

There are cheap ways to travel around the UK. Sometimes ridiculously cheap. But finding those rumoured £1 fares is tough unless you know where to look.


Don’t buy at the station

Buy train tickets on the day, at the station and you might as well just open your wallet and let them take what they want. The official railway website isn’t much better. It will offer the cheaper fares, but you have to find them first.

Check out The Train Line. On popular routes you can browse fares over a five-day period and check out the cheapest option. Once you’ve found the best price, you can search for that train and book your tickets through the official National Rail website

Never book a ticket without looking at all your options. On some trains between London and Manchester the cheapest ticket is listed as £108, but leave a few hours earlier and you can travel the same route for less than £20.

It pays to shop around for bus fares also. National Express tickets can be quite pricey, however Megabus (which operates between most major cities) has seats as low as £1.


Consider in-direct options

If you’re booking a particularly long journey, chances are you’ll change trains along the way. It’s worth comparing the prices of each leg of the trip – it may work out cheaper to book them separately. The downside is that you want to leave enough time to make the connection, as you won’t be entitled to a refund if you miss your next train.


Plan ahead

Spontaneous travel will cost you – a lot. But if you know where you want to go and when, there are big savings to be made. A last-minute train ticket from London to Manchester can easily set you back £60, but advance tickets are as cheap as £12.50.

A bus ticket between Cardiff and Manchester with Megabus one week out will cost about £19, but book a month or so in advance and you can score on those legendary £1 fares. Megabus also sells cut-price train and ferry tickets. It's possible to travel between Ireland and Wales for £1 plus a 50p booking fee.


Be flexible

If you’re prepared to get up at 4am to catch a train or bus, the potential savings will more than pay for the extra coffee you’ll need that day. Travelling in peak times is when things get expensive. Try to avoid travelling on Fridays or Sundays – that’s when everyone else is trying to get away for the weekend. Saturday is usually a good day to travel by train, and there are lots of mid-week bargains.

If you’re covering a long distance (for example London to Glasgow) consider an overnight bus. The bus ticket will usually be cheaper plus you’ll save on accommodation. Most of the major train stations have luggage lockers so you don’t have to be stuck with your bags if you arrive before check in time.


Day trips can be cheaper

By some bizarre logic, return tickets – specifically same-day return tickets – are almost the same price as single tickets.

A single trip between Glasgow and Edinburgh costs £12.50. A same-day off-peak return costs £12.60. It’s worth doing your research and work out if you should spend a night somewhere or just take a day trip.

In England’s Lake District a day pass on the bus (between £7-£11) can be cheaper than a one-way ticket between some towns. It pays to ask for the cheapest option. Don’t expect the driver or ticket seller to be thinking about your budget.


Think local

Many regional networks are particularly extensive in the UK. If you’re travelling in England’s North-West, the same ticket with Stagecoach that gets you between towns in The Lake District can also take you across the other side of the country to Newcastle. Not bad for £10.30

A National Express bus between Carlisle at the top of England and Edinburgh will average at about £20. But the little-known First Borders service costs just £6.90 to travel between the same cities - although it takes the long way.


Travel tip shared by Megan_H


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