The Great British Mag content team updated the article International students guide to transport in the UK on 8 January, 2020.
We have every transport option imaginable in the UK to make your new life convenient and fun. As a team, we’ve summarised a few of the options to get you from A to B conveniently and safely, as well as to get you around the UK and Europe when you want to go exploring!
Transport by train
You can book tickets and check timetables online or going into stations directly. The National Rail website is a great way to check routes and times of train journeys. You can also log onto the websites of individual train companies for travel information and discounts. It’s cheaper to book train tickets in advance and it can be even cheaper if you book with your student railcard. Check out The Trainline for good discounts.
If you book in advance, you’ll be able to reserve a seat, which makes life a lot easier. You can also book first class or standard class along with the time you want to travel.
If you are booked on a train on a certain date or time, that means you can only travel on that specific date and time. If you want flexibility, buy an ‘open return’ or an ‘open single’. That way you can travel whatever time you want and with an open return you can make your return journey within a month of purchasing the ticket.
When on the train, keep your ticket with you at all times to avoid getting fined (although it rarely ever happens).
Young Persons Railcard (16-25 Railcard)
If you’re between 16 to 25 years old, buy a Young Persons Railcard to get 1/3 off train fares. Keep this on you when travelling as you will need to show it along with your ticket.
Let’s break that down: Travelcards give you unlimited travel at any time on the bus, train, tram or even River Boat services.
You can get them just for one day (for either anytime or for off-peak, which is after 9:30am on weekdays) or one week, one month, three months, six months or one full year.
Trains into Europe
You can take the Eurostar, which goes underneath the English Channel, to reach other European destinations. If you want to travel to Europe by train, you can buy an InterRail or Eurail ticket. These come in a variety of different forms depending on your length of stay, and it is also possible to get a student deal.
Student train pass: Europe
The Eurail Youth Pass gives you a discount of up to 25% on standard adult prices, allowing you to travel to up to 33 countries around Europe.
The Eurostar also offers an exclusive youth ticket for anyone under 26 years old. Many of these youth discounts do not even need proof of studying, simply a proof of age document like passport of driving licence.
Different bus companies operate around the UK. Buses are a great way to get around cheaply, whether you’re travelling around your local area or travelling further afield. Although do bear in mind a journey by bus can take longer than other modes of transport and traffic could cause delays.
Prices depend on the company and what part of the UK you are in. If you want to use the buses regularly, it will work out cheaper to buy a weekly, monthly or yearly pass.
Taxis or cabs can be expensive but can also be extremely useful. Every town and city will have numerous options including taxis, which means you can flag one down on the street or pick up one from designated areas, such as train stations and airports. The other option is minicabs, which can be booked via an app or telephone. A popular one is Uber.
Your taxi fare will depend on the type of taxi you take, the time of day and whether it’s on a meter (which means they charge a fixed price per mile) or whether it’s based on a fixed price for a destination. So our advice is always check with the driver before the start of the journey.
With safety in mind the GB Mag team recommends you book a taxi and make sure you get the driver to confirm your name and destination when they arrive to pick you up. Your other option is to get a taxi from a taxi rank (a place where a certain firm of taxis park up to collect customers).
Coaches are one of the cheapest ways for long-distance travel around the UK and can connect you to the whole of Europe. Again, book in advance to get super cheap tickets. Good companies include:
- National Express: affordable and nationwide
- Megabus: extremely cheap UK travel
- easyBus : low-cost airport transfers
- Scottish Citylink: Scotland’s leading coach travel service
Though they’re cheap, coach trips take a long time, especially if going abroad. So remember to bring plenty of things to keep yourself entertained on the journey!
Fancy a road trip with your new mates? If you hire a car, you can drive across the lush rolling British countryside at your own pace and with complete freedom.
To do this, you need to hold a full driving license and as a student, specific rules apply to you. For more information, check out the UK Government website. You might also want to practice things like roundabouts on quiet roads if you aren’t used to them!
Cycling is a fun, cheap and healthy way to travel. Most cities in the UK now have bikes that you can pick up for short journeys by downloading the app and crediting your account with money.
Check out City Cycle Hire if you want a bike for a longer period but don’t want to buy one.
Transport by tram or underground rail
Some parts of the country have trams or underground train systems which are often faster than buses, but don’t go as far as trains do.
Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester have underground rail and tram services. You can usually buy tickets for different distances so check at the station or on board. You can also log onto National Rail for more information.
In London, taking the Tube is the most efficient way to get around. And it’s simple to use once you’ve got used to the different lines, which have a name and a colour to distinguish them. To plan your journey and to find out if there are any delays, log onto TfL.
You can also pay for the journey you make by swiping your UK bank card that has the contactless sign. If you are a frequent Tube traveller it will be more economical for you to buy a weekly or monthly travel card. If you pre-pay your travel on the Tube, buses and some trains are covered.