Transport and Travelling
The rail network provides a fairly fast way of travelling around
the country. You can find out information about train times and
ticket prices from National Rail Enquiries (Tel: 08457 484950 •
or from a train station or travel agent. You can buy train tickets
from any train station. Ideas for cheap train travel:
Young Person’s Railcard: If you are 26 years old
or younger or a full time student, you can buy a Young Person’s Railcard.
This will gives you a 1/3 discount every time you buy a train ticket,
so it is worth getting one if you intend to travel a lot in the
UK. You can buy one at most stations in the UK.
Buy a return ticket: Return tickets are usually
cheaper than two single tickets. If you are travelling to and from
your destination in one day, you might be able to buy a ‘cheap
day return’, which is even cheaper.
Buy your ticket in advance: If you plan to make
a long journey, it is often worth buying your ticket a few days,
or even weeks before your journey – this will save you money
and should ensure you get a seat on the train. The tickets you can
buy in advance include Saver, Super Saver and Apex tickets. For
some of these tickets, you will need to book the time of train you
will travel on – your ticket will not be valid if you travel
on a different train.
Network Card: In the South East of England, a
‘Network Card’ works out cheaper (at the time of writing)
than other discount cards, such as the Young Person’s Railcard.
Travelcards/season tickets: If you are intending
to travel around in London or any of the major cities, it will probably
be cheaper to purchase a travelcard. A one-day travelcard allows
you unlimited travel for one day, and normally works out to be the
price of three journeys! In London, you can buy an offpeak travelcard
for Mondays-Fridays after 9.30am, or weekends. You can also buy
a travelcard for weekdays before 9.30am, but these are much more
expensive. You can also buy travelcards/season tickets for longer
periods, e.g. a week, a month, a year, for travel in lots of towns/cities
in the UK.
Ask for help: Ask at the train station
which would be the best ticket for you – do compare
the costs of the different types of tickets available.
Train stations in London
Many cities around the UK have one main railway station. However
there are eight main stations in London – you can catch trains
to/from a different part of the UK from each station: Charing
Cross serves south east England; Euston
serves the Midlands, and north west England; Kings Cross
serves north east England and Scotland. Normally it is quicker to
travel to Scotland from Kings Cross as trains are faster than on
the west coast route (from Euston); Liverpool Street
serves East Anglia (you can catch a train to Stansted Airport from
Liverpool Street); Paddington serves west and south
west England and Wales (you can catch a train to Heathrow Airport
from Paddington); St Pancras serves the East Midlands;
Victoria serves the south coast (you can catch
a train to Gatwick Airport from Victoria); Waterloo
serves south and south west England. You can catch a train to destinations
in continental Europe (e.g. Paris and Brussels) from Waterloo.
You can get information on the routes and times of buses in your
area from Traveline (Tel: 0870 608 2 608 • Web:
You can often find a leaflet with local bus routes and times from
a public library.
Many buses in large towns and cities operate an ‘exact fare’
policy – which means that the driver will not give you change
if you do not have the right amount of money in coins. Make sure
that you have a selection of coins ready before you board the bus.
You may be able to buy a travelcard or season ticket to save money
if you use the local buses regularly.
To catch a bus, find a bus stop for the right bus route. When
your bus approaches, show the bus driver that you want to use the
bus by stepping to the edge of the pavement and stretching your
arm towards the road. You usually need to pay the driver, or show
any travelcard/season ticket as you get on the bus. When you want
to get off the bus, you usually need to press a button that tells
the driver to stop at the next bus stop. Ask the driver for help
if you don’t know where you need to get off the bus –
the bus driver will then tell you when you reach your destination.
National Express, a chain of national coach operators, operates
a comprehensive network of coach services across the UK and this
can often work out much cheaper than other forms of travel. However,
travel by coach takes longer, may not be as comfortable, and often
has fewer services. If you are 26 years old or younger or a full
time student, you can buy a Discount Coachcard. This will save you
30% on many National Express journeys. It is wise to book your ticket
in advance as seating is limited. For more details, visit your local
coach station or contact National Express (Tel: 08705 808080 •
An alternative company, Megabus
also offers very cheap coach travel across the UK.
You can also travel by coach to many destinations in continental
Europe – these services are run by Eurolines.
These coaches always start and finish at London Victoria coach station.
Several cities in the UK have an underground or metro system (in
London, this is called the
The underground has the advantage that trains are not held up by
traffic. However, be prepared for a squeeze, especially at peak
travelling times! It is easy to plan your journey if you are not
familiar with where you are going. Stations are clearly marked on
maps and by signs in the street. You need to buy your underground
ticket before you get on the train – either from a machine
or a ticket seller. Beware of ‘ticket touts’. These are people who
sell tickets unofficially, usually at a higher price than the official
Sometimes you need to travel in areas where there are no buses
or trains. In this case, taxis are useful. Look for names of taxi
companies in local telephone directories. All taxi firms have to
be registered by the local council so for short journeys, different
taxi companies will charge you similar fares. However, always get
a quote before taking a journey of more than 8 miles: prices can
vary a lot between different firms. Taxis are often thought to be
expensive, but if a group of people use a taxi together, and divide
the cost, the price will work out quite favourably. For your own
safety, you should only travel in a registered taxi. Do not enter
a car if you cannot see a taxi sign, even if the driver offers you
a cheaper fare.
If you plan to be in the UK for some time, you may consider buying
Remember that you can purchase a second hand or used car
more cheaply than a new one! It is a good idea to take a British
friend along with you to help you check it out. You could also arrange
for someone from the AA
(the Automobile Assocation, a British organisation that provides
services for car drivers) to check a second hand car, for a fee.
Having a car can work out to be quite expensive, as you will need
petrol, insurance, motor tax as well as paying for repairs. If you
have a driving licence from your home country, you may be allowed
to drive in the UK – or you may need to apply for a UK driving licence.
Contact the Driving
and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) to ask about this.
Hitch-hiking (getting a lift)
Asking lifts from strangers in passing cars is known as hitch
hiking. Hitch hiking is not considered safe these days, especially
Accommodation around the UK
You may need to stay somewhere overnight if you are travelling
around the UK. Here are a few of the types of accommodation you
Youth Hostels: The Youth Hostel Association (YHA)
organisation provide dormitory accommodation (where you share a
bedroom with 1 or more others) at cheap rates in many locations
around the UK.
In return for a cheap bed, you will be expected to do a variety
of ‘chores’ such as cleaning. You do not need to be
a ‘youth’ (young person) to use a youth hostel. Visit
YHA’s websites to find out more about youth hostels in England
and Wales or Scotland
or Northern Ireland.
YMCA & YWCA: You may also find YMCA (Young
Men’s Christian Association), the YWCA (Young Women’s
Christian Association) and other hostels near where you are staying.
They provide cheap and convenient accommodation. You do not need
to be a young person or Christian to use one of these hostels.
Camp Sites: If you intend taking a long break,
camping can be both fun and cheap. It might be worth buying a cheap
tent, and then selling it at the end of your stay. Or you may be
able to either hire or borrow a tent. Your local library may have
a list of sites. You should always camp on a campsite, not on the
Bed & Breakfast: This is often called B&B,
and is one of the cheapest forms of accommodation. You will normally
have your own room (sometimes in a residential house) and will be
provided with breakfast the following day. Call in to your local
tourist office for a list of available B&B accommodation.
Hotels: Hotels will usually cost several times
the B&B rate, but are more luxurious.
This guide is copyrighted © Friends International 2005. No
part of this work may be reproduced without
the written permission of Friends International.
Additional local information provided by Friends International in Guildford, 2007.