London travel hacks: Cheaper ways of travelling around London

3 December 2020

In this article one of our Communications and Project Advisers, Ayesha, shares her favourite travel hacks to help you to get around London for cheaper!

travel hacks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and London life

We understand that some of you may be studying remotely to begin with due to the coronavirus situation and therefore unable to arrive on campus and in London in January.

We hope that even if you can’t join us immediately, that these articles get you excited for when you are able to join us here in London and give you a flavour of the amazing things to come.

London is one of the most exciting cities in the world! There is always somewhere to go and something to do. However all that travelling can often get expensive and tiresome, so here are some travel hacks to help you get around. Don't forget that due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, currently, you must wear a face mask and to try to maintain social distancing measures when using public transport. Guidelines may be subject to change so check our coronavirus FAQ's regularly 

Read our coronavirus FAQs to find out more on the latest developments.

Oyster card

The cheapest way to travel is with an Oyster card. An Oyster card allows you to travel between all parts of London on the Underground, Trams (DLR), Overground, some river boats, Emirates Air Line, and the iconic red London buses. As a student you may be eligible to apply for an 18+ Oyster which will give you 30% off on weekly, monthly, and annual travel cards! 

Find out more about Oyster cards here.

Hours of travel

Planning your day in advance can also help you to save money. The Underground has two different prices for peak and off peak hours. Try to avoid travelling on the tube between 06:30 to 09:29 and from 16:00 to 18:59 for the cheapest fares. 

Hopper fare

Although the tube is convenient, London buses and trams may actually be a cheaper alternative with the introduction of the ‘Hopper fare’. This fare means that passengers can take a £1.50 bus/tram journey and then change onto another bus/tram for free within an hour of starting their journey. Planning your bus/tram journeys prior to travelling can help you save money. Also trams and buses offer a more scenic mode of travelling.

Walk and cycle

You could also walk/cycle the tube map. This may seem a little ambitious at first, however once you get to know London, you will realise that tube stations are actually positioned quite close together. Santander bikes are also dotted around London and can be hired for free for up to 30 minutes. If you want to borrow a bike for the whole day, it will only cost £2!

16-25 railcard 

If you’re planning to use National Rail services to get around London or you fancy venturing out to the rest of the UK, a 16-25 Railcard is what you’ll need! This card allows you to get 30% off rail tickets. Also booking tickets 12 weeks in advance can help you get some of the biggest savings. Also, if you don't have a student oyster card - you can go to a manned ticket office and link up your rail card to your regular Oyster card and enjoy 30% off-peak fares!

Skip the express

Most London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) have express trains that promise to get you into central London quickly. Although they provide a fast service, the tickets are often expensive, with a Heathrow Express ticket costing upto £37 to get you into central. A cheaper option is to take the Underground that will get you straight into the centre of town for less than £5.

Ayesha Khan, SSW Communications and Projects Adviser and UCL alumna