5 Tips for Cheap Travel in the UK!

Helen Malhotra, COS'21

I'm a fourth year student at Northeastern University studying Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in ethics and in food systems. I am currently spending a year abroad studying philosophy and neuroscience at University of Oxford.

I first came to the United Kingdom for my year abroad in late September of 2019. For the first month, I decided to relax a bit on my typical frugal money-spending habits and spend a bit more than I normally would on things such as food, items for my room, and fun activities. Quickly, though, I found myself spending way more than I wanted and needed to find ways to reduce how much was coming out of my pocket. I started to cut back on spending, but at the same time I was starting to get a bit restless and wanted to go traveling to a few different places around Europe. So, in an attempt to hit two birds with one stone, I searched about for some tips to reduce spending while traveling, which I have now compiled into a short list here. Below are 5 different tips for cheap travel in the UK!

  1. Get a student railcard 
    • A student railcard, which can be used on tickets at trainline.com, gives you 33% off any rail trips and is only £30 for the whole year. Considering some train trips are that cost on their own, you’ll save the same amount in only three trips! Also, if you want to travel to a farther country from the town of Oxford, you’ll have to travel to one of the London airports, which you’ll likely need to take a train to reach.
  2. Buy a student coach card
    • For only 12 pounds a year, you save one third off the price of any National Express buses, which run you from London to Oxford and back, or to the airports, or anywhere around the UK. You can even take a bus from London to Paris! You can buy bus tickets at nationalexpress.com and the student coach card can be purchased here: https://www.nationalexpress.com/en/offers/coachcards/young-person
  3. Fly Ryanair 
    • You might have heard of some negative rumors about flying Ryanair. In my experience, however, the insanely low prices definitely outweigh the lack of services on flight. I have bought flight tickets as cheap as £10 to fly to a different country! You can only bring a backpack with the cheap tickets, but it can be as cheap as £15 to bring a carry on (or you can pack lightly). Remember to check-in at least 2 hours before the flight, otherwise you’re looking at a £55 fee!
  4. Plan and buy early
    • While you can certainly get away with planning a last minute trip, it can be a bit more expensive as the date of travel gets closer. If there’s a specific place you want to travel to, be sure to look up ticket prices at least a few weeks in advance. 
  5. Get an Oyster Card if you travel to London regularly 
    • Tickets for the Tube (London’s underground transportation system) can definitely get a bit expensive, so if you plan on visiting London more than a few times, you should consider purchasing an Oyster Card. London is so big that you’ll be sure to use the Tube at least a few times every trip! Oyster Cards are a £5 deposit, but will save you money on all of your traveling within the city. 

I hope these tips were helpful! Whether you’re studying abroad in Oxford or another city in Europe, be sure to take advantage of all the relatively inexpensive travel you can do. Have fun exploring!