Advice Hub

June 13, 2011

Cheap Travel In The UK

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Written by: Kyle Raffo
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Although we are often heard cursing train fares and petrol price increases, making a budget flight to sunny Spain seems far cheaper and more appealing than a cramped, 600-hour coach ride to a flooded Glastonbury. However, there are still plenty of ways to travel in the UK on the cheap, and on the quick, come rain or shine.

Budget bus and coach travel

Unlike the days of yore, you know, those faraway 90s, coaches have come a long way in recent years. Even the notorious Megabus has shunned the rickety double deckers on their last legs in favour of plush seats, leg room, and even, gasp, working toilets. They are pretty darn cheap as well, and fairly good on the environment, meaning the wheels on the bus really do go round and round all day long.

National Express offer fun fares to over 50 destinations within the UK. These are cheaper tickets that are exclusively available online and the earlier you book, the less they cost. They start at £5. If you are aged between 16 and 25 or a full-time student you are also eligible for a Young Person’s Coach Card, which allows you up to 30% off all coach travel, except those cheeky funfares. It costs just £10 a year or £25 for three years. Get in!

Megabus is also a good option, especially for last-minute travel, allowing you to book online and have your ticket number texted to your mobile. The earlier you book, the cheaper, with tickets starting at £1 each way plus a 50 pence booking fee.

Budget train travel

A new fare system was applied to all train travel in May 2008 aiming to simplify the procedures for buying tickets to suit your journey and price range. There are now three main ticket types with the cheapest option being to buy single tickets in advance. These restrict your flexibility of travel – you must travel at the times you have booked or you will have to buy another ticket – but they work out far cheaper and can be bought as late as the day before you intend to go. has a best fare finder when cost is more important than exact times.

You can get a 16-25 Railcard from any manned station for £24 a year, while some student bank accounts offer them for free. It allows you a third off the price of all rail travel, so spend £60 and you’ve already made your cash back.

Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert (you know the man, he’s always giving advice on Radio 1) also has heaps of tips and tricks for getting cheap rail tickets and beating the system.

Budget flights

These days you can fly to all sorts of places within the UK, like Edinburgh or Bristol, and this option is quite often faster and sometimes cheaper than a train or car journey might be; cheaper on your wallet anyway. If you can live with the massively bad carbon footprint you are stomping across the skies, and have your passport (or driving licence) in date and at the ready, take a look at’s article on budget flying, then visit Flightchecker, an online tool designed to find ultra-cheap flights for flexible travellers.

Don’t forget though, just because you can get from Dublin to Cardiff in under an hour, doesn’t mean you won’t have to check in ages beforehand and wait for bags to be checked in/unloaded just like you were going abroad. Fun, fun, fun. Really, though, if you don’t need to fly, you could try being nice to the planet and finding an alternative way.


Chances are, if you’re heading somewhere big or popular, other people will be going too; whether it’s a festival, London, Blackpool or Newquay. Why not do your bit for the environment and get a lift door-to-door with the fabulously simple concept of lift-sharing? This can start at home of course - if four mates who all drive are all going to the same festival from the same town or city, sharing one car will cut costs on both petrol and parking and any bridge tolls (Wales, Cornwall) you may need to cough up. If it is just one or two of you heading off, visit the following websites to register your journey and cross your fingers:

  • Liftshare: “There are now 249,667 members and over a million trips registered.”
  • National Car Share: “The UK’s longest-established free national car sharing service.”
  • My Lifts: “Lift sharing is made easy and safe with benefits for everyone.”

Consider your safety when car sharing, always tell some one else your plans and use reputable sites. Liftshare UK has a good selection of safety tips.

Remember, car sharing isn’t just for holidays. Think about it for work, college and parties anytime, any place.



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