London transport is known for being expensive. For me, it’s actually pretty reasonable given the number of services, frequency of trains and buses, and the distance you can get for not very much at all. Compared to other parts of the country buses in particular are pretty cheap! Here are my top tips for travelling around London on a budget…
Get an Oyster Card
The absolute top tip for travelling cheaply on the Underground/Overground/DLR or bus is to get an Oyster card. This will massively reduce the amount you pay per journey and will automatically apply daily and weekly caps on your spending. If you have a UK Contactless debit/credit card, these can also be used (as of September 2014) at Oyster rates, with the same caps in place.
Add your discount pass
If you have a 16-25 railcard or other discount pass, you can add this to your Oyster card (not your contactless card yet, though). This will give 1/3 off during non-peak times, perfect for weekend and evening travel. Your Oyster card will need to be registered (you can do this online) and then you just pick up and fill in a form at a TFL station, and ask staff to add your discount. It’s a quick process and the small discounts quickly add up!
If you’re lucky enough to live walking distance from work or your place of study, you can get rid of those pesky commuting costs. Plus it’s often nicer than rush-hour public transport, and sometimes quicker, especially if you usually have to walk to a bus stop or station anyway. It’s good exercise, fresh air and you’ll get to see more of London on the way.
This has additional costs of course, but there are a lot of cycle-commuters in London and it can be a great way of getting around. Just check the safest, most cycle-friendly route to your destination and don’t skimp on safety gear!
How I do it: I walk pretty much anywhere that’s less than 30 mins away, unless I’m in a hurry or it’s snowing! I have a 16-25 railcard that I put off adding to my Oyster card for ages, but finally got round to it and it’s been so worthwhile. Buses are cheaper than the tube but often take longer, so they’re great for shorter journeys.