Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Frugal educational trips: travel costs

Welcome back to this mini-series on frugal educational trips.

Day 1: Questions to ask before a visit
Day 2: Saving on Entrance fees

Today, I'm looking at the cost of travel and a major cost it is too. Petrol in the UK is at least £1.269 per litre ($2.08 per litre or $9.46 per gallon) and usually more. Calculating travel costs becomes relevant!

Thoughts around travel costs have got to start with Is it in walking distance?

One advantage of being in a relatively small country is that there are often trips in the local area. Most villages have war memorials and other signs left from the World Wars; Tudor houses are a frequent finding, in some areas and Roman remains are not infrequent. We try to use local resources as much as possible and often pop round to see a local historical site in an afternoon.

Beyond this, sadly, this will be a short post. Please let me know about wonderful cheap ways to travel that I don't know about!

The specifics of this are about the UK because that is what I know-apologies to those outside the UK.

  • In Central London and other large cities, parking is expensive. Parts of Central London are subject to the Congestion Charge which is a charge of £10 for driving in this area during the working week. This means that it doesn't make sense to drive in this area although families with large vans (over 9 seaters) can apply for Congestion Charge exemption.

  • Children under 11 travel free on London buses and free on the tube with an adult with an Oystercard. This really tips the balance in favour of public transport in London. The downside of public transport is that it can be smelly, crowded and it isn't easy managing with a child in a stroller. Buses, particularly, are much easier once children have outgrown pushchairs.

  • Parking is usually much cheaper in country towns.

  • A Family and Friends Railcard costs £30 and saves 1/3 on adult fares and 60% on children's fares. 

  • We tend to work out rail costs using the National Rail website. It is also worth checking the MoneySaving Expert site for cheap train tickets. This can be compared with the estimated fuel costs using Google maps. Generally, travelling around the South East of England with even part of the family, it is cheaper to drive but it is worth checking.

  • Coaches tend to be cheaper than trains but aren't a form of transport that I have been brave enough to use for a long distance, with children. As a student, I used these frequently.
Please add your own suggestions for saving on transport costs.

The next post is about saving on food, drink and other items associated with the visit.


  1. I was all ready to comment, not on transport, but on food and drink... when I read your last sentence!! I'm afraid I have nothing to add to your post on transport - here in Lewis, it's the car, the car, or ... the car! (We do have a good bus service, but not if you're going anywhere other than town)

    The only thing I'd say for travelling further afield is that we've used Tesco vouchers for flights between Glasgow and London, and have had HUGE savings because of that! Tesco vouchers are amazing for days out in lots of different ways, but I'm sure you'll be covering that in another post.

    1. Anne, you have much less choice than we do. In many ways, we are spoiled by our public transport network in London.

      Thank you for the tip on Tesco vouchers for flights. We've used them for days out, too and they are amazing. I've talked a bit about them in the post on entrance fees. I'm trying to decide between English Heritage membership and the Aquarium when the next set arrive!

  2. Great info, thanks so much for sharing,