You book your flights, hop your plane, and arrive at your destination without knowing how in the world you are meant to get around. Exploring a new city can be intimidating, let alone adventuring around an entirely new country. I have put together a quick and easy crash course on the various options that are available, so all you need to do is get a ticket and test your limits!
England has a well connected train network, with over 2,500 stations spread over the country. There are seven main inter-regional lines with regular timetables, and more localized lines that often run less frequently. Each station will have an easy to read departure and arrival board, similar to those found in airports. When you arrive, just check the journey panel for the name of your trip, note down the platform number, grab a coffee, and head to your train.
Tickets for a regional trip may be booked at the station or online prior to the journey via TheTrainLine or National Rail. While TheTrainLine allows payment with PayPal, National Rail tends to charge an average of £3 less due to less added expenses. Whichever mode of buying your tickets, try to buy early to avoid high costs. Advance bookings can be up to 47% discounted in comparison with on the day fares.
If in a real pinch, most trains will allow purchases on board. Keep in mind that on board tickets cost much more than when pre-booked, and if the service is unavailable you may be in danger of a fine.
If you are going across the English Channel, check out the EuroStar, but make sure to book several weeks ahead of time to guarantee the rail service’s £69 round trip deal. Otherwise, you will be surprised by triple digit fares and be disappointed when you have to rearrange your itinerary or budget.
There are three options for road travel: coach, bus, or car.
Driving can be a low cost travel solution, as rentals can be personalized to fit anyone’s needs. There are dozens of operators, meaning many offer competitive services. Shop around, find what suits you, and call up the company. Just don’t forget to check up on your insurance and to read the small print before signing!
If renting is not your cup of tea, look into low cost short term car shares with sites like ZipCar, free or cheap rideshares such as CarPooling, or splurging by hiring a driver guide through a company like The Driver-Guides Association.
The second way to hit the open road is to use the coach or bus. Like the rail network, England has a strong coach (long distance) and bus (short distance) presence. Though much slower than taking the train, both offer a solution to those with a need to travel on a budget. There are two national and six large regional coach operators, and each offer their own pricings and discounts. I suggest trying Megabus or National Express, as both provide fairly reliable service all around the country at a very low cost. Megabus even offers cross-country services, traveling between England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg, and Italy. The long hours spent dozing and ogling the views pass quickly, and the money saved easily outweighs the extra time spent.
Although this is technically an option, I strongly advise against flying within Great Britain. The trip may seem fast, but the unnecessary expense will take a toll on your wallet, experience, and environment. When you need to fly, use Google Flight‘s intuitive program to find the cheapest days, times, and lines to travel on. Make sure to also check SkyScanner, as
their flight search engine checks even the lesser known, discount airlines. If you are feeling especially adventurous, test out their “Everywhere” option and see where you end up!
Okay, so this might be a bit misleading as you will most likely need to use one of the other options alongside this one, but many do not know they can get around by boat! England is surrounded by water, so it makes sense that sea services are a valid travel choice. Ferries make regular trips to and from England, Holland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, France, Spain, surrounding islands, and more. Finding a port is simple with AFerry‘s search function, and booking may be done with any of the operators, including P&O, Sea France, Brittany Ferries, or Stena Line. Surf the waves from aboard a ship, pretend you’re a pirate, and enjoy the ‘road’ less traveled that will make for some awesome pictures and stories.