Monday, October 10, 2011

Using the Rail System within a Country

The rail system is also useful when travelling within a country. Rail systems are more expensive than coaches, but you will also get to your destination faster, making up to a two hour difference depending on how large the country is. Some rail routes are straight through – meaning there will be stops along the way, but you do not have to get off the train. In order to get to other destinations, you might have to switch trains and even train companies.

A good website to check out for the best prices travelling by rail within the UK is raileasy.co.uk. A WORD OF WARNING: There WILL be a booking fee if you choose to book with this website. I would suggest rather you search rates with different train companies on the website and then book directly through the train site. Make sure to book your train ticket at least two weeks beforehand as train prices rise rapidly as the date of departure approaches.

[Credit: Laura Ekstrom]
Once again, it is suggested that you buy a railcard if you plan on travelling to more than three places within the country. Buying a railcard is valid no matter the train company you use. Although it is an upfront fee of 25 pounds, this will give you major discounts on your travel. One money saving tip is to bring your own passport size photo. If you choose get a passport photo at the rail station, there is a machine where you can take your picture for 5 pounds.

Once you purchase your train ticket, it is of utmost importance that you both write down your reference number, bring the credit card you booked the train ticket with you to the train station, and arrive at the station with enough time to spare. After purchasing your ticket online, you will need to pick your ticket up from the station you’ll be departing from or have it mailed to you. If you decide to pick up your ticket from the train station, you will see a ticket machine of which you will enter your reference number and the card you used to pay for the ticket to print out your ticket.

[Credit: Laura Ekstrom]
After you get your ticket, you’ll need to look at the screens to see which platform your train is departing from, much like an airport. The trains will not board more than 20 minutes before they depart, however it is still wise to get there at least 30 minutes early due to the multitude of factors that can go wrong, such as missing the bus to go to the train station or a long line at the ticket collecting machine. Note: The ticket machine lines will vary based on the time of day and the day of the week you go to the station, so prepare for the worst, but expect the best. You will usually be allowed to get onto the train about 10 minutes before departure, and then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

Check back next week for all about hostels! In the meantime, click the "Follow" button at the top left corner of the page to stay updated with tips on how to make the most of your trip abroad.

Happy Travels!


Julie

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