Cut the cost of Christmas travel
The cost of travelling over the Christmas season is set to rocket with train and plane fares on the up as more people plan on visiting friends and family.
Now that December is upon us, time is running out to save money on your Christmas travel. Whether you plan to catch a train, a plane or an automobile the message is simple - get your plans in place now and book as soon as possible if you want to get a good deal.
Passengers planning on catching a train to visit family and friends over the festive season will once again face disruption due to engineering work. Network Rail announced last month that there will be no trains on Christmas day, with a greatly reduced service on Boxing day, followed by extensive engineering work over the weekend of 27-28 December.
Check the National Rail website to see if your journey plans are likely to be disrupted before you book.
If you get the green light, you can find the cheapest fares by using thetrainline.com. Just input the stations, the days you wish to travel and the times you want to go, and it will automatically find the cheapest tickets for you.
It will even work out if two singles are cheaper. For added peace of mind you can choose to have the tickets delivered or pick them up at the station before you board.
Remember, the earlier you book the cheaper it will be. A single to Edinburgh from London on Christmas Eve costs £76 if you booked now, but a massive £126 on the day (presuming tickets have not sold out).
In some cases it could be cheaper to board a domestic UK flight to visit your loved ones, but again the key is to book as soon as possible. A return flight from London to Edinburgh, departing on Christmas Eve and returning on 3 Jan will set you back over £130, but the earlier you book the less you will have to pay.
Depending how flexible you can be with the time you travel will also affect just how much you pay. Using the same dates, an 06:30 outward flight and an 08:00 return will set you back £132.30, while a 15:10 out and 15:20 return is a whopping £200.58.
The flight comparison site Justtheflight.co.uk lets you search all UK and international flights on the dates to suit you and returns the cheapest fares possible. Website users can also subscribe to receive information on the lowest priced flight deals available to any preferred destination.
Perhaps the cheapest form of travel over the Christmas period is to catch a coach. Companies such as National Express and Megabus cover the length and breadth of the country and fares are generally cheaper than standard rail fares. Prices start from £1.
But if you’re driving home for Christmas, planning your route early and paying as little at the pump will see you make some serious savings. The AA’s website has a free journey planner which will help to work out your shortest route as well as mapping the nearest service stations you’ll pass.
And before you set off make sure you check out the website Petrolprices.com to find the cheapest forecourts in your area.
Should you be able to drive but don’t have access to a car, renting one for a few days can often work out cheaper than catching a plane or train. Easycar.com is currently offering some of the lowest car rental prices, with domestic UK rentals starting from £18 a day.
If you don’t have a car, or perhaps have a spare seat, you could really cut the cost by checking out the 'Rideshare' section of gumtree.com. You can post the details of journey you need to make or offer a spare seat in return for some petrol money. However, if you do plan to travel with a stranger, make sure you let your family and friends know who you are travelling with and what time you plan to arrive at your destination.
And remember, if you don’t want to burn money sitting in a traffic jam be sure to call the AA on 401100 or visit the RAC’s website before you start your motor.