University open day season is coming up, and we recommend booking your train to get cheap tickets now. Also, it’s really best not to go by car. The cities are on student shut-down for these ones.
Just as you think the school year is coming to an end, the university open day circuit kicks in, with a bamboozling array of courses, campuses and careers to consider. They also all tend to come at once, most in the month of June with more to follow in September and October. Whether you are travelling to Edinburgh or Exeter, London or Loughborough, Cambridge or Cardiff, one thing is for sure - there are trains to take you there.
University open day season can be an expensive time with travel and, in some cases, accommodation adding up. However, if you plan in advance, you can really save a lot of money. Parking in the cities will also be very stressful, as the number of visitors on open days is way up there with festival frenzy.
In the UK, you can book train travel up to three months in advance and the sooner you do so, the cheaper the tickets. If you are being really organised and booking way in advance, you will have an option to set a booking alert for those dates, if the tickets haven’t been released for purchase yet.
It is worth noting that if you get a bargain fare for an early morning train ticket to the university city of your choice, bringing you back that same day, you may not need to book a hotel. We also recommend giving yourself some time to wander in the city after all the talks and tours and book a train back as late as possible. The advantage of booking early is that you may be able to get a flexible ticket at a great price, giving you plenty of freedom on travel times.
It is also important to buy a railcard for the university open day circuit. It’s a bit of a wake-up call for many parents when they realise that their potential undergraduates are now too old to travel on their Family and Friends railcard. However, you can buy a 16-25 Railcard to get a third off rail fares costing £30 for a year or £70 for three years. You will often cover the cost of this on one trip alone if you are travelling a long distance.
Another lesser-known railcard that is perfect for open day season is the Two Together Railcard which costs £30 per year. With this card, two travellers are named on the same card and you must always travel together to get one-third off the normal ticket price. Note that you can tick the railcard box when you book on Loco2, although, top tip, you don’t actually need to buy it in order to get the discount. You can just buy it nearer the time and, therefore, extend the validity period of the card. As long as you have it to present on the days of travel, you will be fine. Just a bit of living and learning with Loco2.
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