Thrifty Living: How to track the best travel deals

While the onset of recession has driven prices down on the high street over the past few months, there’s been no such savings to be had for regular train-travellers. Prices on some networks rose by as much as 7 per cent at the start of January – almost eight times greater than the current rate of inflation.

But in spite of the rise in headline rail ticket prices, there are plenty of bargains to be found out there if you know where to look and when to book. And if you’re considering travelling further afield by airplane, there are some great bargains to be bagged as the airlines do everything they can to keep their planes full.

Trains

All the best deals for British train journeys are to be found online – and will only be caught by those who book several weeks in advance. However, most train companies won’t release the cheapest until between eight and 12 weeks before departure – so, to make sure you get the best deal, it’s well worth signing up to the alert service provided at ticketalert.|thetrainline.com. This will contact you when the cheapest tickets for your desired journey have been released.

And, for longer journeys, the difference between the full price and discounted tickets can be hundreds of pounds. For example, a regular weekend return ticket from London to Edinburgh will set you back £136.50. But if you buy two advance single tickets, you could end up paying no more than £24 for your whole trip.

The ticket alert service is not the only useful tool on thetrainline.com. There’s also a best fare finder, which will help you pick out the cheapest fare for your journey by showing how ticket prices differ from day to day. You may find you can save a three-figure sum simply by leaving a day earlier or coming back a day later. Another site worth a look is megatrain.|com, which offers fares from Virgin and South West Trains for as little as £1.

Even if you haven’t managed to book in advance, it’s always worth checking for discounted fares – right up to the last minute. Train operators tend to have a set number of cheap tickets per service, and occasionally there are some left on the day of travel. Again, this can often deliver three-figure savings for the price of a phone call to the train company.

Rail cards are another easy way to save money on fares. If you’re between 16 and 25, or over 60, you can get a third off rail fares with a Young Person’s or Senior railcard, which cost just £24 a year. If you’ve got children, you can make similar savings with a Family & Friends railcard – as long as someone under 16 is travelling with you. Your local network may also offer other railcards, so it’s worth asking at your station.

If you’re a daily rail commuter, it’s usually cheapest to buy your season ticket for a whole year. However, ask what options are available, as you can save thousands by agreeing not to take certain routes.

Finally, if you’re really dedicated to finding the cheapest possible train fares, it’s sometimes possible to reduce the overall cost of your journey by buying multiple tickets for different legs. According to moneysavingexpert.com, you can save up to £55 on a Manchester to Edinburgh journey by buying one ticket from Manchester to York, and a second one from York to Edinburgh. Similarly, if some of your journey will be at peak time, why not buy one ticket to cover the peak hours, and a cheaper off-peak ticket for the rest. Details of these and other tricks can be found at moneysavingexpert.com.

Flight plans

The price of flights out of Britain has plummeted this winter, as airlines have been able to pass on some of the savings from the fall in fuel prices – and as they’ve increased their attempts to keep people travelling. At the moment,you can get flights to New York with Continental for as little as £258, or you can make it all the way to Hong Kong with Jet Airways for less than £350.

If you want to travel with a particular airline, it’s worth checking its website as many of the best deals are only available there. But if you’re not fussy who you fly with, the easiest way to get a sweep of the market is to use an aggregator site, such as kayak.co.uk and travelsupermarket.com, which will check prices on all the major websites foryou. These sites are better places to visit than flight brokers – such as expedia.co.uk and opodo.co.uk – because they check individual airline sites as well as the brokers’ sites.

Flying locally? Be sure to check out the budget airlines; whichbudget.com tells you which budget airlines fly to various destinations.

Finally, if you’re after a free flight, some credit cards offer free trips as an incentive to join. Lloyds TSB Airmiles and Citi bmibaby MasterCard, as well as easyJet’s and Ryanair’s own-brand cards, are worth checking out.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

    £16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

    SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones