Top Tips for cheap student train tickets
Journeying back and forth between university and home is an expensive endeavour that is avoided by most students until absolutely necessary; especially if you’ve moved from the north to the south or vice versa.
Train travel may be seen as more expensive than coach travel but it tends to be a lot quicker and comfortable.
As we all know though, train prices are always rising and as a student you can really start to feel those changes (especially when some journeys can add up to well over £40).
How to save money on rail travel
Get a student railcard
You will kick yourself if you don’t because it will save you a bucket load of money instantly especially if you’ve moved to the opposite end of the country.
A student railcard will save you 1/3 off every train ticket for just £28 a year.
It may sound like a lot for a railcard but if you make as little as 3 journeys between Manchester and London then you will already be making a saving.
Never travel at peak times
To avoid the risk of a seat deprived journey make sure you reserve a seat when you book your ticket.You’ll find the price of your train ticket rockets at weekends and during rush hours (before 9 and just after 5).
It’s also more likely that you’ll find yourself without a seat and having to stand for the entire journey, and no one wants that hassle.
Most websites like redspottedhanky will have a little graphic to notify you when the peak times are but be careful that you avoid them.
Book in advance
The optimum time in advance is 10-12 weeks but even if it’s just by a week (or even 1 hour) it can make a difference.
This is particularly relevant to those travelling across the country who may find themselves paying £50 plus on the day, but a week or two in advance will save you some of that sacred dollar.
Also, your train journey can be made a lot easier by booking in advance as you can not only book a seat but play around with different train times in order to find the best deals. Sometimes travelling just an hour later or a day later could save you around £10 and for a return student train journey (which could add up to £20+ savings) this is a lot of money.
It is worth mentioning that there are tools out there called be fair finders. There is one on the thetrainline.com here and if you are happy to travel late at night or the day after you planned then you can get some real bargains.
Split up your journey
If you shop around and plan your route then sometimes it can be cheaper to book your tickets seperately. For example if you have a journey with 3 connections then sometimes it’s a lot cheaper to book each leg of the journey on their own.
This is not always the case but if you put in the effort and research then you could save the money. It may take you another 10 minutes to look around for the tickets and split your journey in a number of ways but you could really make some savings.
Return isn’t always cheaper
Similar to splitting your journey into sections, you can split a return journey into 2 singles which might make it a bit cheaper.
Luckily, sites like thetrainline.com actually show you the price of 2 singles in comparison with the cost of a return so that you can make the choice right there and then.
There have been examples where two 1st class singles has been cheaper than a standard class return.
Bring your own snacks and drinks
Bring your own munch and if you have a thermos flask use it to take your tea, coffee or in this weather your smoothies to replenish you throughout your journey.
Take travel friendly snacks such as cereal bars, or use small Tupperware boxes to transport sandwiches and prevent them from getting squashed in the hustle and bustle.
The best train ticket companies to book with
There are a lot of places to get your tickets for any train journey and it can be confusing to know who will be the cheapest. The truth is that many of the sites have similar priced tickets but it’s small differences like the useful tools and postage charges that make the difference.
Here are the top train tickets companies for students.
Advantages: No booking fee, Money saving tools, Free ticket postage
RedSpottedHanky are one of the best companies to go through because of the fact that they charge no booking fee and offer free ticket postage.
Advantages: Great money saving tools, free ticket postage
Disadvantages: £1 booking charge
As you may be able to tell, we are a fan of thetrainline because of their useful tools such as the best fare finder. It finds the best deals around the dates you want to travel without having to do it yourself.
Advantages: Great Farefinder tool, no booking fee
Disadvantages: Fairly limited site
The Virgin trains site is great for getting deals on journeys between London and places such as Birmingham and Manchester.
First TransPennine Express
Advantages: No booking fees
Disadvantages: Less tools
First Transpennine Express can sometimes be cheaper than the rest for booking long distance journeys so be sure to use it when you are booking yours.
Take these student train travel points into consideration particularly over the summer, as you shuttle your way around the country to festivals and visiting friends and earn back a little extra money.
That way you can spend £5 on pints of beer from a can, and another pair of sunglasses you desperately need; saving money for the important things in life.Last updated 1st May, 2013