One of the great things about London is the ease in which you can travel around the city. Of course, most methods of transport cost money. But fear not, because with a little bit of travel savvy (and inside information) it’s possible to dramatically reduce your transportation costs – and that includes those who are here for a simple holiday to the city as well as those who’re planning to settle here for a longer period of time.
Here are 8 great money saving tips for traveling around the UK capital city.
Public transport in London consists of The Tube, London Buses, overground trains and the DLR (Docklands Light Railway). If you’re planning on using any or a combination of these transport options for the duration of a day or a week, then it will definitely be cheaper to purchase what is known as a travelcard.
These allow you to travel as much as you like for the specified period on any of the transport options within London.
Prices start from £12 and are valid for either one day or one week. They can be purchased from any overground or underground train station. They are paper tickets that do not require a photograph or ID to purchase. More information can be found on the TFL (Transport for London) website.
2. Oyster cards/Contactless payment
The strange sounding Oyster Card is a pre-paid card that automatically tots up your public transport costs within a day, and then gives you a discount (to a capped fee) on the price.
You can purchase these at most stations (overground and tube). You then have the option of topping them up at any station (with whatever amount of money you like), or for those spending a longer amount of time in London, setting up an automatic direct debit from your bank account to top it up when the balance drops below a specified level.
When you enter a tube station you simply tap your card on the yellow reader, and then again when you leave. When you use the card on a bus, you only need tap the reader with your card the once. There is a one off payment fee of £5 to purchase the card. This is refundable when (and if) you return your Oyster Card.
Transport for London have recently brought in the ability to use your debit or credit card in a similar manner. As long as you have a ‘contactless’ enabled card, then you can use this in exactly the same manner.
3. Boris bikes
These bikes were named after the man who introduced them to the city – London Mayor, Boris Johnson. Officially called Santander Cycles, these bikes can be found all over the city and hired for as little as £2.
There is no need to book one, you simply go to a docking station, tap your bank card and the bike is released for your use. And you don’t even have to drop it back at the same place – it can be returned to any one of the many docking stations found around London.
4. Shank’s pony
The terminology might not be familiar to you, but traveling by Shank’s pony simply means to walk.
In many cases, especially around the centre of the city, you can save money by walking to your destination. And during the rush hour, it’s often far quicker as well. Add to this the advantage that you get to experience seeing many of London’s wonderful landmarks as you pass by, and that it’s great exercise, then walking around London really can prove to be one of the best money saving options available to you.
If you’re planning on taking a taxi, don’t simply hail a black cab on the street. Download and use the mobile phone app, Uber, which allows you to book a cab instantly, get ride shares and generally get a far cheaper fare to your destination. You simply book your taxi and payment is taken directly from your credit or debit card.
6. Student discounted fares
There are two possibilities for those aged 16-25 or those in full or parttime education. The first is the 18+ Student Oyster Card. This gives you 30% off the regular fares and travel cards for using London Transport. To be eligible you need to be 18 years old or over, and registered on a course that’s registered with Transport for London. You also need to be living in London.
The second option is the young persons (16-25 years) railcard, and it’s available to anyone within that age range. And the best thing is that if you have both of them the discounts can be combined, giving you a massive 34% off of all London Transport costs.
7. Travel off peak
Travelling during off peak hours can provide you with enormous savings.
Peak hours in London are between the hours of 06:30 and 09:30, and 16:00 to 19:00.
If you can possibly travel outside of these hours using London Transport not only will you save a substantial amount of money, but you’ll also have a far more pleasant experience. This is because the majority of people are travelling to and from work during these hours, and the tubes, trains and buses are naturally far busier.
8. Season tickets
These can be purchased for periods of time such as one week, one month or any longer period up to the maximum of one year.
Whilst you might gasp a little when you see the price you have to pay out to purchase a season ticket, when you sit down and work it out it normally will end up costing you a substantially lower amount of money.
Of course, it depends on how much you use public transport, and each case is individual. But if you’re staying in London for an extended period of time, it’s definitely worth checking out the cost of a season ticket against purchasing travel cards or using an Oyster Card.