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Travelling around the UK
One of the greatest things about being a student in the UK is that there are so many places within your reach. There is never a better time to travel than when you are a student, not just because travelling is a formative experience but also because there are so many deals to be had. UK Universities tend to have long breaks, so when you have a few weeks off at Christmas or Easter (or even at the weekend) there is plenty of time to travel. Why don’t you break away from your university and see what the UK (or even the world) has to offer?
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Travelling around the UK by train
Using the main lines
Although we love to complain about it, the UK does have a great train network that is fast, fairly priced and great for getaways. The two ‘main’ train lines in the UK are the West Coast Mainline and the East Coast Mainline, which run from the south of England up through to Scotland on different sides of the country. If you can grab a local train or bus to a stop on the West or East Coast Mainline, a superfast train will be along shortly to take you exactly where you want to go.
Along the East Coast you can go anywhere: from the capital London to the ancient and historical city of York or even up to Scotland’s beautiful capital of Edinburgh. If the West Coast is more your thing, then why not grab a train to the party cities of Manchester and Liverpool, or stop at a connection along the way, for example at the picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon? There is so much to see in the UK and the choices are truly endless.
Buying tickets online – and in advance
In the UK, train tickets can be a fraction of the price if you go online and book them in advance. Advance tickets are a type of restricted ticket that only allow you to get on one particular train, but they can be as little as a quarter of the price of a regular ticket bought on the day at the train station. If you want to make a train journey but don’t want to spend a lot of money, then booking in advance can save you crazy amounts.
A less well known secret is that many train companies continue to sell advance tickets as little as 24 hours in advance of the journey. Even if you’re travelling tomorrow or the day after, it is still worth checking online and seeing if you can get a bargain.
If you know you’re going to be using trains frequently, then buying a 16-25 Railcard is a great investment. For less than £30 a year, you can get a third off the price of your train tickets - which can be a LOT of money saved if you’re need to go on a long distance or expensive train ride. If you are thinking “Well I’m not aged 16-25, so that’s not for me”, don’t worry. The card can actually also be purchased by full-time mature students too. There are some restrictions on the railcard (it can’t be used for season tickets, most London Underground tickets or for Eurostar journeys to France), but otherwise it is an excellent way to make train travel cheaper.
Travelling around the UK by plane
The UK is quite small compared to many countries so you might think it’s crazy to grab a domestic flight, but depending on where you are it can be a great option. Flying from the north of England or Scotland to the south (or vice versa) is often cheaper than jumping on a train if the distance is large (like Newcastle to Bristol, or Edinburgh to London). If you think your train ticket is a little pricey and you’re travelling right across the UK, then have a look online and see how cheap it would be to fly. The deals are often extraordinary.
Travelling to mainland Europe from the UK
If you want a change from the UK, then the best part about its location is that fabulous European cities like Paris, Madrid and Rome are just a few hours away. You can get great deals with budget airlines or with train passes like InterRail, so why not see how much it will cost you to get away for a weekend (or even a week or two) of Continental sun?
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