Travel Cards…

It’s break and I’m a student and I need the discounts.

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Tower Bridge at Night. Tower Bridge, London, England. December 2014.

It’s the first week of break and I am realizing I should have started this process earlier during the semester. As a student living off of loans in a foreign country, I pretty much need to save as much money as I can (the more I save, the more I can pay back – with less interest – in the long run!). On the life experiencing/balancing end of my world, I also want to travel since I am living in a new country closely surrounded by other countries I haven’t visited yet.

To summarize, I’m a student, I’m young, and I love to travel. Life is a balancing act.

So for young travelers and new wandering immigrants (especially those in the London/UK area), there are a few travel discounts to watch out for to help you do everything you want to do and not break the bank doing it.

Short distances:

Oyster cards and oyster discounts are quick and easy ways to save money and time on shorter distance travel (ie. Tubes and buses—the latter doesn’t really work without prepaid tickets like the oyster). Instead of buying individual tickets for every trip you take, you put money on your oyster card and pay at an automatic, discounted price every time you use it. On top of the basic benefits of having a card (which can be topped up online or in a tube station via machine or at the ticket counter), you should look to see what extra discounts you can get on these cards. If you or a person you are traveling with is between 10 and 17, you should check out the discount area as there are age based ID card discounts with a wide range of benefits.

I fall into the 18+ Student Discount photo card because I am a graduate student at a recognized university. The whole process is quick and painless and completely online. You are eligible for this 30% discount on travel with your new oyster if you are with a school, college, or university that’s registered on the TfL scheme, on a mandatory work placement in London, or on an eligible full-time or part-time course (you can find out if your university is included when you fill out the online paperwork). To fill out the forms, you’ll need: a color digital photo to upload; your student enrollment ID from your school, college or university; your course start and end dates; a credit or debit card to pay the £10 fee; and an active email address. If you have an oyster card already in the system, you can go to one of the counters and return your old card for a refund of the oyster’s cost.

If you are an older traveler or are working or otherwise don’t fit the parameters of the discounts above, check out the adults’ discount page and see if any of these can help. All you have to do if fit the parameters, fill in the paperwork, get your card, and be on your way!

Longer Distance:

When you are going further than the distance covered by the aforementioned transportation, the rail station and Rail cards (and their discounts) are what you are looking for. Unlike other transportation methods, the only way to get discounts for the railway is to purchase a rail card (for others you can get discount tickets with a student id, though you save more—especially time—with a card).

As a 23 year old, I purchased a 16 to 25 year olds photo rail pass which has two length options: 1 year at 30 pounds or 3 years at 70 pounds (at least for now). If you are older than 25 but have the documentation showing that you attend University and are approved with all the proper documents, mature students may also apply for this discount travel card. Then, if you apply for the 3 years by the day before your 24th birthday, you get the same discounts on tickets for the extra year you technically fall out of the age limit. You get up to 1/3 off normal ticket prices, but always look at the terms before buying as they dictate when you travel as well as what kind of travel you do.

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For smaller trips with less day to day travel, you should look at the other travel package options I outlined in the early days of this blog and again, don’t forget to look at your options early as your card will be mailed to you and you can’t save on travel costs until you have your card!

Until next time,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Travel Cards…

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