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Cut costs on Christmas travel in the UK
Published 6 December 2016 by Linzi Nuttall
How will you travel this Christmas?
Christmas is round the corner – the Advent countdown has now started! If you’re lucky enough to have made travel plans abroad, you’ve probably already booked and paid for this. But if you’re travelling in the UK to be with loved ones, now’s a good time to plan your journey. We’ll show you how to find the cheapest and most suitable option for your travel, whether it’s rail, car share or car hire.
Off the rails
10 October was the best day to book rail tickets for Christmas travel. This was 10-12 weeks before companies release their advanced tickets and timetables. But if you missed that date, don’t worry – there are other ways to save on your Christmas travel in the UK this year.
If your only option is rail, why not consider getting a Railcard? They’re available to students, seniors, couples and families. If you’re eligible, most cards give up to 1/3 off any journey for annual membership. You’ll also be able to travel on all UK standard, first class, off-peak and advanced tickets over the next year.
Travelling off-peak is a great way to avoid rush hour queues and it’s usually cheaper than peak travel. Try ticket splitting too – this is where you buy several tickets over shorter journeys to make up your route, and it can work out cheaper. Look at buying two singles instead of a return and see if you can save by doing this.
Sign up for discounts
If you sign up to the main ticketing companies’ newsletters, you’ll receive exclusive offers, vouchers, advance sales news via email. For example, Virgin Trains offers its customers a cup of tea and money off, while London Midland sends members vouchers for 25% discounts.
Quidco and TopCashback can be a great way to save because you’ll earn cashback when you buy a ticket online. Their sites also offer free train vouchers you can use for future rail travel. And if you have a Nectar Card, you can use your points on First Great Western and Virgin Trains to redeem against the cost of travel.
Drive, car share, or car hire
If you’re travelling as a family or with a group of friends, car travel can be cheaper than the cost of rail. You could ask friends to share with you if you’re travelling to similar parts of the country and split the cost of petrol. Or you could even ask friends if you can hop in with them and offer some cash in exchange. Car travel is great because it takes you from door to door, but be sure your car is winter ready and plan journeys in advance.
If you can drive but don’t own a car, a car rental club like zipcar could give you the balance of freedom and affordability at Christmas. Base your decision on how many people are travelling, how far you’re going, how much you can spend and the most practical method for you.