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How to get around for less

Posted 07 January 2016

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Are you worried by your transport costs?? There are some simple ways to get around for less, we’ll show you how.

Most of us need to travel in our day-to-day lives. Whether you need to get to work, take the children to school or simply visit someone, getting from point A to point B can sometimes prove to be an expensive affair. The BBC recently reported that in the UK we pay above average for train journeys, when compared to the rest of Europe. And train fares rose again - by 1.1% - at the start of the year, with some commuters now paying 13% of their monthly salary just to get to work. Added to that, petrol prices can fluctuate quite dramatically throughout the year, having an impact on your budget. 

In this blog, we’re going to give you our top tips for cheap travel which, hopefully, will ease the strain. If, however, you’re struggling with debts, it’s possible that making changes like these won’t be enough, and you should really be looking at a debt solution instead. If you’re not sure, try our money smart report. It’ll give you a crystal clear overview of your finances at a glance. And don’t forget our advisors are only a phone call away, just use the options on the left . 

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So now we’ve covered that, let’s look into how we can all travel for less. We can’t make the journey take less time unfortunately, but we’ve put together a list of ideas that could make it cost you less money. 

If you’re traveling by car

Many people prefer the convenience and comfort of traveling in their own car to get to get about. If this is you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t ways to cut the cost. First of all, look into whether your employer has a car share scheme. If you’re lucky, there might be someone living round the corner from you that would happily contribute to the cost of petrol so that they don’t have to get the bus/train to work. Or you could catch a lift with someone else you work with and contribute to their petrol costs.  

You don’t have to do a car share through work though, there are companies that match people up so that your car share is as convenient and cost effective as possible. Liftshare is the biggest one of these in the country and it’s completely free to join, either as someone offering or seeking a lift. 

Worries about car sharing

You might like the idea of saving money and reducing your carbon footprint, but still have some worries about letting a stranger into your car that are stopping you from giving it a go. There are some simple pieces of advice that you can follow to make your trip safer, like not exchanging your home address, meeting somewhere public and informing a family member or friend about who you’re traveling with and where you’re going. Using Liftshare it’s also possible to filter your search results, so that you can travel with someone of the same sex for example. For the full list of safety advice, have a look here

Other than that, Which? have some really useful tips on car share etiquette. If you follow these rules you’ll be the perfect sharer, and know what standard of behaviour to expect from others. 

Could you manage without a car?

So, if you’re really interested in seeing how much money you could save by changing the way you get around why not think about getting rid of the car altogether? This may seem a little daunting, but don’t be put off until you’ve looked into it – it may be simpler than you think, especially if you live in a city with good transport links. 

The costs involved in running a car can be very high, there’s petrol of course, then road tax, insurance, MOT, servicing, parking, breakdown cover and general maintenance. Add all that up and you’ve got yourself a substantial financial burden. 

Have a good think about the journeys you make day-to-day and work out whether there are alternative ways of getting there you’d be happy with - there could be a world of bus, tram and train routes that you aren’t aware of that could work out cheaper than your car. When figuring out how to get somewhere by public transport Traveline is the place to go, if you’re wanting to see distances and walking directions, you can use trusty old Google maps. 

Every now and again of course there will be the odd journey that public transport won’t cover, but for those times could you use a combination of taxis and car hire to see you through? If you live in London, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge or Maidstone, Zipcar is a great car sharing site that allows you to use a car or van when you need it, offering significant savings over car ownership. For the rest of the UK, Carplus will help you find car sharing schemes in your area. 

Not owning a car saves you money, and is loads better for the environment but the decision to get rid of your car is a big one, so just make sure you do your research first. Perhaps, trial just using public transport and taxis for a month before you take the plunge. 

Check the price of petrol

If car sharing simply isn’t for you and you couldn’t realistically give up your car, don’t worry, you could still make a saving. Petrolprices.com is a great site that shows you the lowest petrol price in your area. This could mean that you never pay over the odds for filling up again. The site is updated daily and, if you opt in, they will send you an email informing you of when the prices change in your area. 

If you’re traveling by train

As we’ve highlighted above, the UK’s train prices are some of the highest in Europe, so any help in this area is welcome! A great tip is to split your tickets for a journey, especially if it’s a long one. Let’s bring this to life with an example. Say you wanted to travel from Manchester to Edinburgh, now if you bought a standard anytime single ticket for this journey, it could set you back £94.50. However, if you bought a ticket from Manchester to Preston, and another one from Preston to Edinburgh, the price of these two tickets would be £45.20 combined, a saving of £49.50 – that’s more than 50%! This is a really nifty trick and well worth looking into next time you travel on the railway.  

These were the results we got when we searched for trains departing the same day – but remember, they do change, and you’re in for further savings if you buy in advance, the earlier the better. Also, if you plan to make your return journey by train, it can work out cheaper to buy single tickets all the way as a return isn’t always cheaper, but look into this before you go ahead. 

If you’re a frequent traveller then it might be worth looking into getting a railcard, as you could get a third off the price. There are different railcards for different circumstances, so whether you’re traveling in a couple, with children, or you’re retired or disabled, you should find one that suits you. Have a look at National Railcards to get the details, and be sure to check any conditions before you go ahead. 

Can you change your mode of transport?

Depending on your routine and circumstances, you might find that you’re able to be flexible about how you get somewhere, and this could save you money. Consider whether you could get the coach instead of the train, as this is often much kinder to your pocket. For instance, if you wanted to travel from Manchester to London via coach, the cheapest ticket price on offer from National Express over the coming month is £5.00. The price of train tickets varies depending on when you buy them as we’ve said, but you’d be hard pressed to find anything as cheap as this. 

And what about cycling to work instead of driving? If you don’t have a bike then you may need a little money to buy one in the first place, but you’d soon earn this back with the saving that you make from not running a car every day. Or if you prefer, there are bike share schemes that you can sign-up to which would eliminate the cost of buying a bike. Just check whether your employer has one, or do a Google search to see if there are any organised by your local council. 

Entitlements?

Some people can’t, and shouldn’t have to, pay the standard price when it comes to getting around. As well as the railcards mentioned above for disabled and retired people, there are  other types of help out there, so make sure you know what you’re entitled to. 

If you’re having to travel to hospital for instance and you’re on a low income, you may be able to claim the cost of your journey back through The Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme. As with all things, there are criteria that you have to meet, the NHS has all the information you need to check if this is available to you. 

Once you reach the female state retirement age you don’t have to pay to travel on the bus in England, and that goes whether you’re a man or a woman. You’ll be able to apply for a bus pass through your local council, at a bus station, or if you prefer follow this link to the Government’s website.  

If you’re disabled, or caring for a disabled person, then you may benefit from The Motability Scheme. This is a scheme that allows people to use their disability allowance to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. The costs associated with running a vehicle, like insurance, tax, maintenance and breakdown cover, are all covered in the scheme, so if you meet the criteria you may find that it’s more cost effective to get around this way. Click here to check whether you’re eligible.  

 

As we said getting around is so important if you want live life to the full, so putting a little time aside to finding the cheapest ways to do this is definitely time well spent. The Money Advice Service has lots of general money saving advice, and if you’ve got any tips for getting around or travel deals that have made a difference for you, make sure to let us know on our Facebook page

 

by Christine Walsh

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