Thrifty business, our top 5 tips for cheap travel
Why has travel become so expensive?
Cheap travel can often feel like it’s gone the way of the dinosaurs and only existed “back in my day when petrol was 70p”. Rather like the housing market, the way we travel has been the victim of a vast number of changes, all conspiring to empty our wallets. But why?
The hard truth it that train travel has risen by 36% since 2010, which is 2.6 faster than our average salaries have increased*. Petrol is back on the rise after a low point in 2016** and we’re regularly forced to buy at a premium from motorway service station on our stay-cations. Going abroad? Cheap travel through the skies is still there if you look but as these budget airlines grow you’ll find an increasingly large proportion of your ticket price spent on admin fees, marketing expenses and big team salaries***.
The not-so-secret conspiracy wants to punish us for travelling during the most popular times. Walk-on services during peak times are the most eye watering fares when taking the train, and flights that don’t leave you wrecked from jetlag can cost more. If more people travel a service can be more economical and cheaper, so why are we being taxed on these trips?
Here are our top five tips for cheap travel
- Don’t peak too early
Peak travel times vary from trains, to planes to coaches so check out when tickets become a little cheaper. If you don’t have to fly on a Friday night consider a midweek cheaper option. The annual leave you were saving for a rainy (sunny) day might save you a bit of money on your trip. You’re onto a real winner if you find attractions and travel that doesn’t charge peak time premiums. They do exist!
- Walk this way
Tube stops are closer together than you might think, and train stations often have helpful signs for walker. If you download your maps to work offline you can navigate without eating into data costs. Or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, ask someone! Put your phone away and ask the quickest way to walk somewhere. There might even be a cheap cafe on the way. Local knowledge almost always wins.
- ‘Appiness is cheap travel
Apps devoted to saving you money are becoming more common. Compare the prices of local supermarkets easily and you can also use vouchercloud or sites like Groupon for cheap meals.
Bank monitoring apps and digital banks like Monzo can help you track spend when you travel, so you know if you can afford that ice cream treat.
- Outskirts of town can hide gems
When you’re visiting a new city try eating where the locals eat. Do you want to get a real feeling for a culture? Find out where locals go for a quick drink with their mates. It’s likely to be cheaper, buzzing with chat and full of nice people worth meeting. If you want to save money, avoid the picturesque riverside tapas and find good value street food. Don’t settle for the same old chain bar. Get of your coach at Rupert Street in Bristol and be in the board game cafe Chance & Counters drinking craft beer and local vegan food.
- Free yourself…
...from admission prices. These prices can increase rapidly during peak summer months while there are plenty of great attractions that don’t even need you to open your purse. In London the British Museum, Natural History Museum, National Gallery and Science Museum are all free to name a few. In Nottingham the Attenborough Nature Centre, Nottingham Contemporary and Wollaton Hall and Park are all free to enter.
So get exploring! Cheap coach travel is one of the best ways to see the country, whether you’re on a budget or not. So spend carefully and in the right places. You’ll soon have more to splash on the things that mean most to you!