Seeing Britain by rail Tips for riding National Rail
Jumping on a train is probably the quickest, most comfortable, and most scenic way to get from A to B, don’t you agree? No traffic jams, no speed restrictions, and no need to find a service station when nature calls.
Despite that, there are obviously a few tricks of the trade that it’s always best to know before you embark on your journey, to get the most out of it, and save money along the way. If you’ve never done it before, how are you supposed to know?
Like most things, booking online is always going to come out cheaper. If you turn up at the train station on the day, you’ll find the price is much higher than what you will have seen quoted online a few days prior. You can purchase your ticket online and either have your tickets delivered to you, for a charge, or head to your nearest station and print them out at one of the kiosks for free.
Book in advance, online of course
Prices come out around 12 weeks before the date of travel, so as soon as you see the dates available online, look at booking, as this will be the cheapest you’ll find them. The longer you leave it, the higher the price will be. The early bird certainly catches the best deals when it comes to trains.
Get a railcard
If you’re travelling as a family, this is going to save you big. Having said that, railcards are also great for groups travelling, and even duos, depending on where you’re going and the different cards available. Check these out online as there are a range on offer, and they will all save you precious cash, slashing the price of your journey, often for a specified length of time.
Be clever with travel times
If you can travel off peak not only will your journey be more comfortable, but your ticket will be cheaper too!
Pre-book your seat
Booking online will give you the option of booking your seat, and it’s always wise to do this because you can choose whereabouts you want to sit, e.g. near the toilet, next to a plug socket etc. Having said that, beware that during particularly busy times someone will almost always be sat in your seat, and you’ll either have to turf them out or forget about it!
Luggage rack trauma
If you’re travelling with a suitcase, maybe to the airport for example, then pre-book your seat near the luggage rack and pray that there is room in it. You can’t pre-book space for your suitcase, so you just have to hope that there is room. It’s not a good idea to leave your suitcase in the rack and then sit halfway down the carriage, as it’s always advisable to keep an eye on your belongings – it’s just common sense.
Avoid Saturday afternoons
If you have to travel on a Saturday, try not to do it around lunchtime, especially if you’re heading off to a busy city. Saturday is football day, and most train stations are full of away or home supporters heading off to visit their team. Best case is it will be busy, worst case is it will be busy and very, very loud.
If you take all this into account, you should get the most out of your train journey, but remember this – train stations are cold and soulless places the world over, and the only way around it? Grab a coffee and make peace with the fact!