Top Tips for Saving Money on Travel – Trains

Trains Panorama

When it comes to travelling in the UK, there is certainly no shortage of ways to save money.

However, finding the best deals can involve a lot of research. As a student, you'll be travelling to and from uni several times a year. To help you bag a bargain without all the stress, we've put together some top tips for saving on travel.

Speed Train in station - Fotolia
There are plenty of ways to save money on
rail travel 

Travel by Rail

Trains are probably the quickest way to travel around the country, providing direct links between UK cities and several smaller towns in between. Unfortunately, finding low cost train tickets can also be much more time-consuming. Here are our top tips for saving money on rail-travel:

Book as early as possible

Train tickets can usually be booked at least 10 weeks before the date of travel.

Advanced tickets are only available online, however because they are so cheap, it is important to note that they are also inflexible. The ticket will only be eligible for use for the train and time specified. Of course, next to nobody can know what time works best for them on a day that's 3 months away, but despair not, as advance tickets can be booked up to and including the day before your journey (albeit with less of a discount).

Get a railcard

Although a railcard does cost money, the savings you can make are far more significant. An 18-25 railcard can save you up to a third on fares, while a Two Together railcard can make similar savings. The Two Together is not age-restricted and is ideal if you frequently travel by rail with a specific person.

Student accounts offered by some banks can include a free railcard as part of the package, so it's always worth doing your research on this too. For students in London, railcards can also be linked to your Oyster card to help save money on your city journeys.

Be flexible

Admittedly they're not called unsociable hours for nothing, but booking tickets for off-peak times can be a real money-saver. Journeys after 7pm are usually much cheaper than during the morning and evening rush hours, with daytime (9am-2pm) journeys also less expensive. The day of travel can also impact price, with weekends usually cheaper than weekdays – ideal for travelling without missing lectures.

Split your tickets without changing

Bizarrely, buying individual tickets for the constituent parts of your journey can work out much cheaper than a single ticket for the entire trip. For example, if you were travelling from Point A to Point C (via Point B), it may be cheaper to buy two separate tickets: one from Point A to Point B, and one from Point B to Point C.

It's important to remember that this doesn't mean changing trains. The same train is going from Point A to Point C, and as long as it is actually stopping at Point B, your two tickets are perfectly allowed within National Rail rules. What's more, to save you the effort of calculating the cheapest route, Raileasy have a handy split ticketing search tool!

Buy two singles instead of a return

Another curious feature of the rail fare system is that buying two single tickets for a journey can sometimes be cheaper than buying a return. No explanation needed here, just something to try entering into the system before you go straight for the return ticket option!

Use discount websites

There are a number of websites that can do all the hard work for you. Sites such as The Trainline, Raileasy and Megabus' lesser known brother, Megatrain, all either offer cheap tickets themselves or have handy search functions to help you calculate the cheapest way to get you from A to B!