Travelling to and from uni/home - saving money
By Nicole Correia,
Moving out of home is something most sixth formers feel excited about. You feel ready to leave the nest and have the messy room you always dreamed you could, without the nagging consequences. It really is wonderful having your own place and, for the most part, just as liberating as you imagine it.
However, there will be times when you will want to go back home; you're tired of cooking, you need to detox (!), have a family birthday, or have a bag of washing which has been residing in the corner of your room for the last few weeks. You may want to experience your friend's university and have a taste of their nightlife. Or, last but not least, you might simply just miss your parents! With all these excuses and reasons to get about, it can feel like a bit of a palaver to arrange, especially if you previously relied on lifts from Mum and Dad to scoot you about the place.
Saving money as a student is one of the things you will spend much of your time pondering - trust me! Before starting at university I bought a 16-25 railcard. This saved me a bomb when it came to travelling, with discounts on travel cards and on student friendly train websites. If you're going to be using the train or London underground system I recommend as an invaluable asset; I definitely regained the money I spent on it through the journeys that I made.
Armed with your student railcard I would also suggest www.thetrainline.com or www.mytrainticket.co.uk - the urls are easy to remember and they are incredibly simple to use. They are your typical train comparison websites, so will save you having to go and compare tens of other sites. And most importantly, booking in advance could save you up to 50%. They make the difference in price for off-peak and on-peak clear, so that you can arrange your travel times accordingly to what suits you without the risk of any naughty fines. After getting your student discount, you can have the tickets sent in the post to you, or you can collect them electronically at the station. I find the later easier as I am forever losing things. They’re also introducing ‘Mobile Ticketing’ – so no risk of losing them. This is what I meant by student friendly - the website knows you have a messy room, and that you have been procrastinating packing so well that it is an hour before your train departs, and that you are probably going to lose the tickets in the excitement of it all.
So therainline and mytrainticket just feel the most student-brain friendly, but if you’rea glutton for sticking to your favourite brand, then you can always resort to the likes of National Rail or Virgin Trains – just, that adding your student railcard discount seems like a mission with these.
If you're not a fan of trains, can't be bothered with the swapping and you just want to sit down and close your eyes, then MegaBus is your answer. And it will also save you more. There are other websites out there that seem to offer you helpful maps and routes, but when it comes to purchasing a bus route it is confusing. If you’re comfortable with a certain website, stick with it, because none wants to end up all the way in Cumbria…unless you happen live there. Quite often with MegaBus it is cheaper to travel by bus than train, if you’re not in a particular rush to return home/get back to your essays. You can book 6 weeks in advance, or occasionally even more, allowing passengers to search and buy their tickets even earlier, meaning there are likely to be more £1/€1 (+ 50p/50c booking fee) seats left – that’s their offer which you can get if you hit the site at the right time. You can use your NUS card to get a further 10% off, unlike National Express who ask you if you have a ‘coach card’. Again, MegaBus seems student-friendly.
Look into it and compare your journeys, once you have a routine plan for getting about it just becomes a matter of clicks before you're on your way home...or off to Paris for just £59 return. Plan ahead!