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How do I save money on travel costs?

petrol pump in car
petrol pump in car

Tips to help car drivers, train passengers and bus riders have fuller wallets.

Keeping a car on the road doesn’t always have to be expensive. Although things like MOTs, insurance and fuel all add up, we have a few ways to make the total come to a little bit less. The same goes for rail users who either take the train to work or just on the odd journey.

Cut car costs

Driving Style
Pulling away quickly, braking hard and giving the accelerator pedal a constant work out, they all use up more fuel and will have you spending more time at your local petrol station. Don’t accelerate and break suddenly, instead speed up and slow down gradually. You don’t have to race to that red light; if it goes green while you’re rolling to a stop it will cost you less than if you have to start from standing. When you’re on the motorway or dual carriageway, pick a speed and stick to it while moving the accelerator as little as possible – it should see you go further between refills- and help the environment too!

Deal or no deal
Keep a look out for vouchers or deals for routine trips to the garage like MOTs, tyre changes and services. You could keep a few extra notes in your pocket each time.

Sharing is caring
You can get back a lot of what you spend on petrol by carpooling, otherwise known as car sharing. There are several websites that match people driving from A to B with someone who is willing to pay money to get a lift from A to B. Plus, some cities have roads with two-plus lanes which are only open to cars carrying two or more people.

Pass Plus
It’s been around for years, but people seem to forget you can usually get a reduction on your car insurance if you’ve got the Pass Plus driving course under your belt. It’s an added type of driving tuition that’s available to people who’ve already passed the standard test. You learn about things like driving in bad weather and the idea is you become a better driver as a result, which is why it gives insurers more confidence in quoting you less. It costs money to take the course, but you’ll benefit from years of lower insurance premiums because of it.

Fuel Your Efficiency

There are easy ways to get more miles out of your fuel tank. If there’s anything inside your car you don’t need, take it out. The weight will be causing you to use more fuel. Keeping your tyres properly inflated will also give you more miles. Also, if your car’s dashboard can show your current miles per gallon, use it. This can help you judge how fuel-efficient your driving is.

Pay As You Go
If car insurance companies think you’re a high-risk and quote you a large amount of money, or you don’t use your wheels a lot, it might be an idea to look into pay as you go insurance. It involves working out how much you actually drive with the help of a device placed in your car, then charging you based on that information. It can work out cheaper for some drivers who don’t drive far or don’t get behind the wheel much at peak times, because in theory, they should be less likely to be involved in an accident.

Trim train expenses

Are you single? Let’s say you’re going from Point A to Point B. One single train ticket there could cost you £25, but there’s a chance you could cut costs by getting two tickets – one from Point A to a destination along the line for £12 perhaps, then getting off and changing to another train to go from there to Point B at maybe £10. That’s because train prices aren’t necessarily based on distance.

Experiment with your bookings next time you’re looking to ride the rails – although beware that if you miss your connection, you could have to buy another ticket on the service you do get.

Let’s split
In a similar way, you can break up the same train ride into several tickets without getting off the train. It’ll often drop your costs, but you’ll have to be careful to make sure the tickets you’re buying are for the exact same train.

First-class service
Sometimes first-class tickets are cheaper than standard fares should there be space on the particular journey you’re looking to take. There’s no hard-and-fast rule on when they’re available, so keep an eye out when you’re booking in advance or close to the date.

First-class food
Should you snag a cheap first-class ticket, remember you’re entitled to free food on many services. It’s not the case all the time, but generally you’re guaranteed a drink and snack if the journey is short and a meal if it’s well over an hour. It seems there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Get an advance
Buying tickets any time before the day you travel could net you a saving on your rail travel. Book around 12 weeks before your travel for the cheapest fares.

Bring down outgoings with the bus

Less fuss on the bus
Not only can fuel put a hole in your pocket, but parking these days can also cost you a fortune. If you go into town for work or just on a regular basis, you could make big savings, especially if you’re in for a long trip. In some places, parking for just a few hours could rack up a ticket of over £10. A bus day ticket usually comes in at under £5, though it can be more in some places. It also means you don’t have the stress of finding a parking space.

King of the road
You could save a bundle of cash by choosing the bus instead of the car, train or even aeroplane if you’re making a long trip. The UK’s big coach companies, National Express and Megabus go between all the UK’s major cities, many large towns and, in some cases, even big European destinations, all the while costing significantly less than other means of transport. Where a return journey between two major UK cities might cost less than £10 going by coach, you could be looking at over £40 for the train.

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