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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi all -- well. we've been living in london for 8 weeks now and are definitely in the honeymoon period, loving it and feeling pretty well adjusted, kids happy at school, happy with our rented house/neighborhood & enjoying life outside the us & exploring a new city.

thank you so much to all of the moderators and helpful people who post answers here, this has been a great resource in preparing for and making the move to the uk. thanks! :)

now that i am here - i have loads of quotidian questions, i hope you won't mind fielding some of them... today = about train travel within uk.

is the railcard worth getting to use for travel around england (we are a family of 2 adults + 2 kids)?

what is the best way to buy train tickets?

i am confused about getting from point a (for example, london) to point b (eg, york) -- which station to use in london? buy tickets in advance? or just reserve them? it seems like such a simple thing but i just don't get it...

thanks!!
 

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Railcards

My husband generally books our London-Huddersfield (Yorkshire)-London tickets through the East Coast website, as they're the rail line we take when we go to visit his family. We depart and return through King's Cross St. Pancras.

Beware of those generic "all train line" type booking sites, as they often have a service charge (East Coast doesn't, thus the reason why Husband buys through there). I think that if you do a search on Trainline.com to figure out what train lines serve where you want to go and then go directly to the train operator's website to book, you should be able to find better deals/options than at Trainline (i.e. we arrive/depart through Wakefield where my in-laws pick us up... it's a 20 minute drive to/from the station to their home, but it eliminates the need for us to transfer trains during our journey to get directly to the station in Huddersfield).

I do believe that for most lines, you can book on line and then go and pick up your tickets from a kiosk at any national rail station (ie you've booked travel through Kings Cross, but happen to be going by Victoria Station in a couple of days, you can pick your tickets up at Victoria Station).
 

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Congrats on your move! Glad to hear of another American loving the British lifestyle.

I actually prefer to travel by rail rather than car. Perhaps it's still a novelty for me but I love it. A rail card can save you funds if you make longer journeys. There is also an advanced purchase discount which is good usually before 6pm the previous day. I use www.nationalrail.co.uk to research routes and costs. You can go on there to calculate what it would cost with or without rail card. You can also check to see different rates for different times as well as same day rates or advance purchase. If you buy in advance you are bound to travel on that exact journey where as when you purchase upon arrival it is more flexible bound only by peak, off peak or super off peak. A lot of the trains will allow you to sit in first class if you purchase food without paying the upgrade. Virgin trains are really really nice.
 

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I'm sure you have discovered the Oyster card since you live in London but if you haven't you need to get oyster ASAP. It gives you discounted rates, can be auto topped up and is good anywhere within zone 1-6.
 

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Agree about the Oyster.

I have a Zone 1-2 monthly travel card on mine and use it to go pretty much everywhere (I live in Zone 2 and don't often go outside of Zone 1/2) - if it's raining, I'll hop on the bus to go to the Tube; if I've got lots of bags/heavy stuff, I'll plan my journey in such a way so that I can take the Tube to a specific station and then hop a bus that will take me to the front of my flat etc etc etc... it's very good value for money when you use it that way... I have a part time job on Fridays and have lots of little trips on the Tube, so it's especially useful for that. I also have some pay-as-you-go money on it so that if I travel outside of Zone 1-2, the trip(s) are covered.

ETA: even if you don't put a Travelcard on your Oyster, it (the Oyster) is set up with a daily price cap... i.e. depending on how many zones you travel in during any given day, there's a maximum price that you'll be charged for your journeys (i.e. Zone 1-2 travel has £7/day price cap)... you don't get this if you pay your fares using cash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks - i purchased the railcard today and it made a huge difference in cost - about half off... great suggestion!
 

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Theres a website called 'the man in seat 61' which is recommended, especially if youre planning to go further afield, eg london to paris
 
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