Exploring the UK is truly wonderful, I’d highly recommend the experience. This country is steeped in history and so full of life. But let’s face it, travel is super expensive, especially as a student.
My favourite way to travel, and arguably the most convenient too, is by train. It’s so fun to watch the world fly past your window and to have coffee on tap at the café bar! So that you can travel by train more often and for less, the train companies of the UK offer what is called a ‘16-25 Railcard’. This card costs £30 and is a way to save 1/3 on the cost of your train ticket. The cost of the card sounds expensive; however it really does help to bring down that cost and make travel even more fun!
Whether you’re travelling for a day trip, a holiday, or even a university open day, I think travelling by train is the easiest way to do it. I’ve been to many places around the country by train, and every journey is an adventure. It’s such a good way to spend time with friends, you learn so much about your friends on a long journey together – it’s great.
One of the best train trips I’ve ever taken is to Bangor, North Wales. My friend had a university open day and interview in the town, she invited me to go with her and make a weekend out of it! It’s a stunning place. The journey there took the best part of six hours, split into three legs. It took us through the luscious, winding, calm Essex countryside to bustling, fast-paced central London, where we couldn’t help but explore before we caught our next train. After we had a short-lived self-directed sightseeing tour, taking in the attractions (such tourists!), we caught the tube to Euston station and embarked on our train up to the north. Steeped in history, the route took us through the heart of industrial Britain, gorgeous greenery contrasting with forlorn former factories. It was truly a whistle-stop (pardon the pun) tour of the industrial revolution. Our journey came to a break in Crewe – quite fitting for a train journey considering its railway heritage. Quite soon, we were being whisked away through the Welsh mountains to Bangor. What a beautiful journey. I took a photograph out of the window, a girl questioned me as to why I would want to do this. “It’s so boring round here, it’s just mountains” she complained. Little did she know that, actually, I’m from a faraway land without mountains! Once we arrived, we explored the quaint, historic town. It was blissful – so quiet.
I can tell you now that the journey wouldn’t have been possible without a railcard. The journey cost just shy of £90, and whilst that is very expensive, without a railcard the same journey would cost just over £135. Therefore, on just that journey alone, the card paid for itself and STILL saved me £15. That isn’t the only journey I’ve made by train this year! I’ve visited friends in Norwich at a cost of £12 rather than £19; I’ve also been to London for my studies for £29 as opposed to £44. I even went to an open day in Nottingham, and by booking tickets in advance online in addition to using my railcard, I managed to get halfway across the country and back for just £15! It’s truly worth it, especially if you’re planning to study away from home and live in student accommodation, as you’ll be able to visit home more often! (Or, of course, visit home the same amount but have more money in your pocket ????).
One idea I’d definitely give some thought to is to look into the freebies that student bank accounts offer. As of February 2019, for example, Santander offer a deal where you get a free 16-25 railcard valid for four years as a perk of their 123 Student Current Account. Whilst there are other accounts and other freebies out there (stay tuned for a piece about student bank accounts soon!) if you wish to save yourself tons on your train travel for free, I’d definitely give it a look. They also offer an overdraft of up to £1,500 at 0% interest, if that’s something you’d find useful.
So, I hope I’ve helped you see the benefit of having a 16-25 Railcard! Let me know your train travel stories and finance questions at [email protected]