Travel and Holidays


  • Learn from my mistake.  Always check out the intercity buses before booking the train. The one I didn't book would have been half the price.
  • If definitely travelling by train, take a tip from an anonymous poster on this blog.  Use The Train Line to check out the cheapest tickets.  Then go to the train company's own website, where you can often save the £1 booking fee.  Beware, however: if you like to pick up the ticket at the self-service machines at the station, you may still have to pay £1 with some train companies.  Better to print out the ticket.
  • Check alternative routes.  For example, if I travelled from Edinburgh to Oxford on 27th July 2011, returning a week later, then the cheapest direct return price would have been a whopping £155.50.  But if one travels first of all to London, and then to Oxford, then the full return price works out at only £66, plus a couple of tube tickets.
  • Take a packed lunch, plenty of water, and a good library book, and you won't need to purchase a thing on your journey.

    • Take an empty plastic bottle through security.  You can fill it up with tapwater on the other side.  
    • There is absolutley no reason in the world why you cannot take a sandwich through security.  Just  avoid liquids.
    • Look out for drinking fountains of water.  Some airports have them - or at least, Schippol in the Netherlands does.
    • If you do find yourslef stranded in a British airport without food or liquid, find Boots the Chemist and invest £2.99 in a Meal Deal.  It is cheaper than just about anything else you will find there.
    • Again, take a good book with you.  Don't buy a newspaper - there are usually free copies of the Metro hanging around.
    • In Schippol airport, find the central wifi area upstairs in Terminal D.  If you have your own laptop with you, you can get two separate half hours of internet access there for free.
    • When travelling to the airport, and if you have no one to drop you off, consider taking a taxi to the airport shuttlebus stop in town, rather than all the way to the airport.  In Edinburgh, the airport buses are fast, clean, frequent, and cost £6 return.  You don't need to book.

    • Walk.
    • If I happen to find myself without change for a bus ticket, my usual solution previously was to buy something small in a shop, such as a bar of chocolate.  If this happens to you often, consider investing in a book of tickets from the bus depot.  This costs a painful amount to begin with, but will save money in the long run.  
    • And again, walk.

    • Don't buy an expensive travel book.  Libraries lend these for free.
    • Save your money for things you really want to do.  That means don't fritter it away on coffees and sandwiches.  Stick a spreading knife and a plastic plate in your luggage, along with a plastic container (for taking lunches out and about), perhaps also a thermos flask, and of course, your trusty water bottle.  Then when you arrive, track down a local supermarket, and buy yourself some cheese, perhaps a salami sausage, some butter or spread, and some bread or crispbread.  You can live on that for a week, no bother! 
    • Most places to stay charge on a Bed and Breakfast basis.  Make the breakfast your main meal of the day - take the hot cooked option, and fill up with as much as you are allowed.  The cheese sandwiches will keep you going very well after that, and you can make do with some fast food for the evening.
    • Use the coffee or tea in your room to fill up your thermos flask for the day.
    • For cheap accommodation during the summer, you may be able to get a university room.  A friend and I managed to get a twin room for four nights at Imperial College London for £87 per night, which is not bad for central London at the height of summer.
    • Do your research before you go, and find out what attractions are cheap, or even free.  Museums and art galleries are often a good bet, as are parks and botanical gardens.  Also, try churches and cathedrals, many of which still don't charge for entry (though they may charge for, say, climbing the tower).
    • More and more these days, cathedrals are charging a lot of money to get in as a tourist - even up to £8.  But if you turn up for, say, an Evensong service, you will not only get in free, but will hear some sublime music to boot.  It is often possible to have a quick look round afterwards too.  Of course, these places have huge overheads, and it would only be good and right to leave what you can as a donation.
    • Churches are popular venues for lunchtime concerts, usually of a classical variety.  These are most often free.