Working as an au pair for an agency in the UK will not only allow you to gain experience abroad, immersing yourself in the culture, but also the time to further explore the country with your downtime. Wherever you travel, deciphering a new public transport can be a little tricky, whether that’s down to a language barrier, or just the specific quirks that country’s system. Rail is a great way to get around and see more of the UK, so here are six tips and hacks from the Londonist you should know before you book those tickets.
- Book ahead
Almost without fail, you’ll pay more if you turn up to the station to buy tickets rather than buying them in advance. Tickets can be bought u to three months ahead on many services, so if you’ve got longstanding plans, it’s worth booking early. The savings you get might be worth the risk of plans changing at the last. Apps like GoEuro will let you book services throughout Europe, up to 15 minutes before departure.
Railcards aren’t just available to the elderly – you can apply for one as an under 25, a couple, a family – and now, a 26 to 30 railcard has also been rolled out. These railcards usually last for one year, perfect if you’re doing a year abroad, and cost on average £30. They save you a third on journeys, so sometimes you can earn back the cost in one trip alone!
- Compare flights
Okay, so the UK is a lot smaller than a lot of European countries, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile comparing train costs with flights. The cost of travelling to Scotland by train is often much more than a flight, so look at those prices before you book.
- First class
First class tickets might seem like a bit of a luxury, but sometimes, you might find tickets that cost the same as, or sometimes less than, standard tickets on very busy trains. Always keep your eyes peeled. On some services which become too busy because of overcrowding and perhaps other cancelled services, first class carriages are declassified, meaning you might be able to snag a comfy seat for free. If you’re in first class when this happens, you can often claim a refund.
- Peak times
Peak travel should be avoided if possible as this will add a lot to your final ticket price. Travel, especially to and from London, can be confusing, as you’ll have peak, off peak and super off peak times, the latter of which has the cheapest tickets. If you can’t quite make sense of it, always ask a ticketing agent at the station.
- Attraction entry
If you’re travelling to go to one of the UK”s biggest attractions, Days Out Guide may offer a special two for one discount on tickets if you present their voucher with your train ticket. Head to their website to see if the attraction your visiting is covered by the offer.