I don’t know about you, but exploring a country by train is a long-time favourite, even when going from one country to the other; how much do you actually get to see when you’re high up in the clouds? Sure, the view is great, and you get to see the city you’re visiting in patched-up pieces before you land, but that’s about it. Get yourself grounded again by travelling on the roads and preferably by train.
Image source: Pexels
Find your beginning and end
A lot of people agree to this, and would love the freedom of train travel at any day, but are not quite sure where to start. When embarking on backpacking, a train travel or an Interrail, it’s smart to know which city you would like to see first and where you would like to end up. You could even cheat a bit if you live all the way down south, for example, by flying north and travelling by train back again.
Some people need to map out every stop on the way, and we should just let them do their thing, I guess, but make sure you travel with someone who shares your style. To be stuck with someone who needs to plan every day to feel calm when you prefer a more laidback style can potentially ruin your trip – or drive you crazy if you’re a particularly organised person, and need to take responsibility for booking everything for your happy-go-lucky friend.
Since this is a budget edition, we need to talk about money. You’ll pay most of it on accommodation since you’re not flying to your destination – so if you’re not careful with what you choose, your holiday could quickly become expensive. Luckily, there’s a lot of lovely places that doesn’t break the bank – backpackers in York, for example, or what about a self catering in Bath? Check out this site for some of the best budget accommodation in the UK. By the way, see if you can’t book some of your train trips for overnight. You might get a little bunk-bed to rest out in before arriving at your station in the morning.
The Train: Booking ahead and using rail passes
The first commandment to saving money when travelling by train is to book ahead, even if it’s just an hour before departure. I know, it’s a real anti-climax for us who likes a spontaneous trip, Huckleberry Finn style, simply jumping on a train and see where it takes you, but it’s worth it if it can help us save a little money. Besides, you can mix it up a bit; plan for the beginning of your trip, make a few spontaneous decisions and see how it adds up – just keeping it balanced.
Each of the British rail passes cover a geographical area, so you need to know kind of where you’re going – at least the direction of it. You don’t need to make a reservation on a particular train after you have your rail pass and are ready to go, but it can be useful to reserve a seat if you’re travelling during the weekend when trains tend to fill up. You’ve probably heard the old tales of people sleeping on the floor of the trains, and although some trains might allow it, you could be asked to leave without a reservation if it’s full. It’s no fun to sleep on the floor either.
Even though you’re embarking on a train journey and feel like you can take whatever life throws at you, it’s important to be comfortable too, and make sure you’re rested for the adventures ahead.