Travelling by train in the UK – some tips

June 5, 2014


Are you thinking of taking the train somewhere?  I think about it all the time… I usually say that the best feature about Grantham is the train station! I take it to go to the airports or to just go somewhere else in the country. I ride the train frequently… it’s my life line to the rest of the world. As such, I’ve learned a few tricks on how to navigate it. 

Buying the tickets

  • Try to get them in advance, as much as possible. Check the thetrainline.co.uk for prices and just to make sure you are getting the best deal, also check the train company’s own website, as that might save you at least the booking fee. Alternatively, try Take The Train as it will spot the cheapest ones for you straight away.
  • If you find that your trip is way too expensive, try buying separate tickets for the different parts of the journey. It sounds weird but it works in some situations – for example: a ticket from Grantham to London, during peak times can cost on average £86 or more. If you get a ticket to Peterborough at around the same time, it can cost you as little as £6 or £7, up to £11, depending on the train. If you then get another ticket from Peterborough to London, you can get it for £29 or £31 on average. It’s still not dirt cheap but it almost halves the cost of the initial ticket. It doesn’t make much sense why it is like this, but it’s worth trying. If you’re on iPhone, you might want to try the app Tickety Split (up until this date, I don’t think there is an alternative for Android, sadly). I’ve never used it (I’m on Android) but it does the ticket splitting for you. Check out what the MoneySavingExpert has to say about it. Needless to say, you should try and avoid peak times at all costs.
  • You can also try buying two separate singles, as it might work out cheaper than buying a return ticket. Unless, of course, you want to buy an open return.
  • Most train companies will offer a group discount for parties of 3 to 9 people. Check here before you buy as it might be worth it.


Make yourself comfortable

  • Most inter-cities trains will have power sockets, so I always book the window seat. It might not be the best arrangement if you need the toilet, but I also avoid that as much as possible. At least you know that your phone won’t be out of juice by the time you arrive to your destination or if you’re on a very long trip, why not plug in your laptop or tablet and watch a movie?
  • When I take an early train (as is sometimes necessary, when catching flights) I also like to have my cushion handy, not just for the flight. As it’s early, most people will also be napping, so do the same!
  • When I’m not watching my pennies too closely, I actually like to buy a hot drink at the station, especially during those horrid grey and cold days. My favourite is the chai latte. Yum! Other than that, avoid buying food or drinks at the station – it’s usually a rip off.


Don’t forget to mind the gap! Do you have any suggestions of your own?

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  • Reply Vix June 5, 2014 at 07:27

    British train travel is ridiculous – its a blinking nightmare to find a reasonable fare. All that negotiating of websites and buying separate tickets is so annoying. Bring back nationalisation. Train travel in India is a breeze.
    Great tips! xxx

    • Reply Mrs. D June 5, 2014 at 14:17

      It really is!! I am of the opinion that public transport should be a right, not a luxury!!! How are people expected to reduce carbon monoxide emission by leaving their cars at home if it’s more expensive to take the trains? Doesn’t make sense to me, really.

  • Reply KizzyDoll June 5, 2014 at 09:46

    Super tips doll, not been on the train in a long while now!! Will have to ride on it again soon, though it’s blooming expensive for a family these days, wish they’d lower prices to get more people using it! xx

    • Reply Mrs. D June 5, 2014 at 09:51

      Actually you can – there’s a discount for larger parties! I just added that to the post as I had forgotten about that detail. Thanks doll!

  • Reply Val S June 6, 2014 at 03:05

    Great tips, especially how to save money. UK train fares are stupidly expensive.

  • Reply Señora Allnut June 6, 2014 at 08:36

    interesting tips, I don’t understand why tickets are so expensive and absurd. I was used to travel by train some years ago, and it was expensive here too, and so difficult sometimes due to stupid timetables and connections.
    You’re right about beverages prices at stations or trains, it’s way better to carry your own sandwiches or cookies and water. There’re also problems about heating or cooling, so I’m used to wear layered outfits, and never (Never) wear sandals. Cooling can be ‘freezing style’ here in Spain!!

  • Reply Lindsey Kettle June 6, 2014 at 09:31

    Some great tips here. We have just bought a family railcard as this is a great way to also save a bit of money on your train travel. Only downside is you have to take at least one of the kids with you 😉

  • Reply Kate Thompson June 6, 2014 at 09:41

    My best tip would be to avoid Great Anglia!!!! Rated bottom in every survey in the UK >:( Buying advance tickets really helps, I’ve halved the cost before now. What really irks me is that if I use my son’s Disabled Badge to travel we pay more than if I use “Friends and Family” ?! #PoCoLo

  • Reply Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) June 6, 2014 at 19:19

    It is so expensive aint it to travel by train and yet its fast and efficient for me at least. I dont really know half of the info here so thanks. Now I have options when I really need to save on fare money and I love those laces! #pocolo

  • Reply Connie* June 7, 2014 at 19:06

    Oh my gosh. You bring to mind Hermione on her way to Hogwarts. British train travel is so much more civilized than American. Have you ever taken an American train? Nightmare!

  • Reply Little Outdoor Kylie June 8, 2014 at 07:41

    […] When I met Sara of Hello The Mushroom last weekend at Nuffang’s first birthdat party, I knew she was exactly the kind of lady I’d like to have in my circle of blogging chums! I loved this article she wrote on travelling by train in the UK. […]

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