How to save on driving and train journeys

Keen to make the most of your weekends? Getting there can cost nearly as much as the activity does. Plan ahead, take advantage of cheap tickets, and pocket the difference.

Big tip

Not planning three months in advance? Don’t worry. Even booking the day before you travel can still get you cheaper tickets than showing up at the station. Check the cut off for your local train company – typically it’s either 6pm or midnight the day before.

What should you do with your extra money? Now that you’ve saved a few quid, we’ve a few ideas that will get you saving. Try them out here.

How long it’ll take: Just a few minutes

Equipment needed:

  • Internet access, to book those tickets
  • Railcard/coachcard, to bag the discounts
  • Free websites, that show you what’s on in your area

1. Fill up for less

The cost of that quick getaway by car is mainly driven by fuel. Get the best price for your petrol, or dial down your diesel, by filling up at the cheapest petrol station. Think supermarkets rather than service stations. Zoom in on less pricey pumps using a free website like Petrolprices.comopens in new window.

2. Rake it in with a railcard

Slash the cost of train tickets by forking out for a railcard first. Typically the railcards below cost £30, which gets you a third off most rail journeys for a whole year. Look out for deals and discounts though – sometimes you can find offers for 10% or a tenner off the railcard cost.

Young and fancy-free? Get a Young Person’s Railcard if you’re 16 to 25, or over 25 in full-time education.

Live in the South East? A Network Railcard works on most fares, including travel to and around London.

Kids in tow? A Family & Friends Railcard works for up to four adults travelling with as many as four kids, and can get you a third off adult fares and 60% off children’s tickets.

Joined at the hip? Try a Two Together Railcard for two named persons travelling together.

Oldie but goodie? Get a Senior Railcard once you hit 60.

3. Search for the cheapest tickets

Prices vary dramatically when it comes to train travel. Book a trip during peak time, you can find yourself potentially forking out hundreds of pounds extra than if you went a few hours later.

Become a savvy traveller by checking with the network when you can use off-peak (or super off-peak travel) to avoid hefty prices.

Think ahead - Wait until the station to buy your train ticket, and it could cost an arm and a leg. Think ahead, and you can find much lower fares.

Typically the cheapest advance tickets get released about 12 weeks beforehand. If you’ve got a particular date in mind, see if you can sign up on the relevant rail company website for an alert when cheap tickets go on sale.

Split your ticket - Weirdly, buying a return ticket from A to B isn’t always the cheapest ticket. Buying different tickets for different stages of your journey can sometimes cost less. It’s perfectly legal, so long as the train you’re travelling on actually stops at those stations.

Luckily you don’t have to be a train ticketing nerd to benefit, as you can use a website like TrainSplit.com to crunch the combinations. You can still use railcards where valid and it’s free to check, but the site charges 10% of any saving if you go ahead and book the tickets.

Going on a trip via train? If you buy National Rail tickets, you can also get two tickets for the price of one on loads of activities like zoos, aquariums, theme parks, theatres and exhibitions. It’s not just attractions in London either, you can get the offer for days out in Brighton, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland too.

Register at Days Out Guide, work out where you would like to go, and then print out the relevant vouchers to cart along. MoneySavingExpert.com has a great guide on how to make the most of this offer.

Consider the coach - If you’ve got the time to spare, then coach travel could save you megabucks. You can even use coach price comparison websites like CheckMyBus and Gopili to make sure you get the cheapest price possible. They will check Megabus and National express in one place for you saving time. But they don’t have more local services, so it may be worth speaking to people in your local area to find out if there is a local bus service that does the route you want.

Bring your own - However you travel, you can end up getting fleeced for food and drink if you rely on station stalls and catering carts. Simple sandwich or full on super spread – save some cash by bringing your own supplies.

Did you find this guide helpful?