7 days out for under £50… and how you can do it ☺️
Full-time education or being in that awkward limbo between graduating but having not yet found that full-time job (like myself lol) doesn’t have to stop you from travelling – if the cash flows are low. Sometimes transport companies, both bus and rail, will suddenly announce a flash sale, so if you are a regular user, keep your eyes firmly peeled on email alerts. This is what happened earlier this week, when seemingly out of nowhere Northern Rail announced that 180,000 tickets were to be reduced to 10p!!! Even with a few typically Northern website technical faults on the way, by the next day my boyfriend and I had booked seven days out, all totaling under £50 and in locations some a good three/four hours away from his home in Retford. So, how did we do it?
As with any ‘too good to be true’ offer, there was a slight catch to the deal – all journeys offered at 10p are only running between the 13th January – 14th February, and the 24th-29th February. Such a limited set of dates does sadly make it harder for those with employment to book more than a handful of days away. My boyfriend and I are lucky, given my earlier explained situation, and him being in classes only once a week, so we have the luxury for now to travel wherever we please, whenever we feel like it. Secondly, Northern only operate in certain areas of the UK; services go as far south as Chesterfield/Lincoln, and as north as Glasgow. A substantial amount of the country will therefore not even have Northern trains, although other transport companies regularly have similar sales. Again, we are fortunate that my boyfriend lives in a town which is very well connected, and we can easily travel further afield being only a fifteen minute journey from Doncaster, and a forty minute ride away from Sheffield. Therefore, we had a wide range of locations available to us in the deal, only requiring either none or one changes (except Windermere, which still only required two).
Our days out will begin on the 27th January, and end on the 26th February. I will be writing about each place we explore. In line with the cheap train tickets, we have decided to stick to doing virtually free or inexpensive activities in each place, thus I will review and rate the quality of things to do in each location. So I will now break down the costs of each of our days out, in chronological order…
- 27th January – Leeds. As Retford is on the same line as Leeds, this journey will only cost us each 20p, as we thankfully have no changes! So, total cost = 40p.
- 28th January – Manchester. Only the one change at Sheffield, which isn’t too bad or confusing, but means we had to pay for two legs rather than one! As Manchester is some distance away, we are setting off very early so we did have to pay the regular 16-24 Railcard price for two singles between Retford and Sheffield. Still, the total cost for this journey = £23 (two singles to Sheffield at silly o’clock set us back £22.20 BUT you can avoid this by deciding to book a later train).
- 29th January – Harrogate (yes, we booked THREE days out in a row and I certainly will be knackered by this point but, worth it). No early start today though thankfully. Again, we’ll only have to make one change, at Leeds this time. So, total cost = 80p.
- 4th February – Hull. My boyfriend goes to university here, and I have a soft spot for the city, so going here was a MUST. Again, we are lucky as we are cutting costs further by getting a lift to Doncaster to the station (boyfriend’s dad works here AND we save over £10 each as Retford to Doncaster is not served by Northern and on the LNER fast line, which in non-techy terms means tickets do not come cheap). We are doing this because we can travel directly to Hull from there. So, total cost = 40p.
- 10th February – Scarborough. Just like when we go to Hull, we will also be travelling from Doncaster, so we will get to appreciate the Yorkshire countryside and coastline along the way. So, total cost = 40p.
- 14th February – York. Valentine’s Day calls for a romantic destination, so I picked York because architecturally it is stunning, and there is a great romanticism with its cobbled streets and quirky eateries. Again there will just be the one change for us at Sheffield. So, total cost = 80p.
- 25th Feburary – Windermere. We have cheated a bit here; to give us a bit longer in the Lake District we are staying the night, but as you can still make it a day trip if you pick very early/very late train times, I am not including the hotel price in the total costs. As Windermere is rural, two changes are needed rather than one, but with both changes at large stations (Sheffield and Manchester), the journey isn’t too challenging. Again, due to getting back later on the 26th, we are having to pay the normal 16-24 Railcard fare between Sheffield and Retford, but again with careful selection of travel times this can be avoided. So, total cost = £14.20 (£13.20 of this is for the two late singles tickets but despite this, the overall price is very affordable and still far cheaper than driving to the Lakes).
To travel to seven very different locations in the UK has only collectively cost us exactly £40. To put that into perspective, £40 is roughly the equivalent to a family meal for four at a low-budget chain such as Wetherspoons (source: my mother!), or a meal for two at a fancier restaurant. It is slightly more than the amount you can expect to pay for Internet and other bills per week. Going-out culture is very common at University, and an excess of £40 is often spent on a night out, thus if that amount of money can be saved then spent on a regular basis, then £40 works out very cost-effective to see so many places.
Keep an eye out for posts in the upcoming month or two about our travels to these seven locations, and my reviews of the quality of free/cheap activities in each place☺️.
– The Ginger Globetrotter🌍