Everything You Need to Know About UK Travel as a Student

As an international student pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in the UK, you have a great opportunity to explore the country in between your studies.

UK travel offers numerous benefits. Engaging with local culture and enjoying new experiences can provide a creative boost during exam periods and late-night study sessions. Best of all, the UK's compact size, rich history, diverse cities, stunning coasts and countryside, and excellent transport links make it easy to explore.

Read on to learn everything about UK travel as a student.

Travel on trains

Train travel in England is one of the most popular and efficient means of transport. UK trains balance modern efficiency with historical charm, and the railway network connects major cities with swathes of countryside and quaint coastal towns.

Services like the high-speed Southeastern Railway and operators such as Great Western Railway and Virgin Trains Ticketing offer frequent and reliable services. Key routes, such as the London to Edinburgh line, provide rapid transit between large cities, while regional lines ensure accessibility to smaller communities.

As a student, you can hop on a train and enjoy the convenience of chugging along while avoiding the stress of traffic. What’s more, if you’re travelling in London specifically, you have access to the London Underground - a historical railway system servicing 272 stations across the city.

How to plan your journey

Planning your train journey in England or other parts of the UK is easy with apps like National Rail and Trainline. Just enter your departure and arrival stations, and the app will show you the best routes and times. You can also book straight on the railway website.

Payment options

When it comes to paying for your train journey to England, you have a couple of options. You can buy tickets online, at the station, or even through your phone. For the best prices, book in advance and look for off-peak times.

Railcard discounts

Look for discounts when booking your tickets. Student train tickets are designed to be cost-effective, so make sure to check whether you qualify for any student discounts. Plus, invest in a 16-25 Railcard if you’re studying in the UK. It costs around £30 a year but saves you a third on most train journeys.

Travel on buses and coaches in the UK

What could be more iconic than the bright red double-decker bus? The iconic England bus is recognisable across the globe. England’s buses and coaches are one of the most cost-effective ways for students to get around, as well as being a budget-friendly way to travel long distance.

Bus travel in the UK is easy to access and caters to urban and rural areas. With a comprehensive network of bus services operated by companies like National Express and Stagecoach, buses provide an essential link for students, commuters, tourists and residents alike.

How to plan your journey

Use apps like Google Maps or Citymapper to plan your bus trips. Simply enter your destination, and the app will show you the best bus routes and schedules. What’s great about these apps is that they allow you to enter multiple stops and show the fares for each trip.

Travel costs and payment options

With flexible ticket options, bus rides are among the most popular travel options for students. Bus fares vary depending on the city, but they’re generally quite affordable. You can pay with contactless cards, or mobile apps, or buy a travel pass for unlimited travel.

Student discounts for bus and coach journeys

Many bus companies offer student discounts. Look for special student travel cards or discounts on sites like National Express and Megabus, which offer students 10% off their fares.

Travel by car in the UK

When it comes to transport in the UK, a car can give you a different level of freedom for more rural areas. Driving solo offers flexibility and independence, allowing you to explore parts of the country at your own pace. Renting a car can bring the chance to venture off the beaten path and discover hidden gems, including remote areas that may be less reachable by public transport.

The UK boasts an efficient road network, including motorways like the M25 and scenic routes like the Jurassic Coast that connect cities, towns and rural areas. The UK road system is even becoming more sustainable, with the implementation of electric charging points and congestion charge zones. That does mean that there are some limits on the cars you can have in certain areas, and the places you can drive.

It is important to bear in mind that urban areas of the UK do experience traffic congestion and it can be stressful to drive during the UK rush hour (between 7:30am and 9:30am and 4pm and 6:30pm). If you plan on keeping a car with you when you’re at an iQ property, check beforehand to see if this is possible, as some of our sites are in areas that do not allow for local ownership of motor vehicles.

How to plan your student car journey

Planning a car trip is simple with GPS apps like Google Maps or Waze. They’ll help you find the quickest routes and avoid traffic. If you need a refresh on the Highway Code, road safety and vehicle rules in the UK, visit the gov.uk site for more.

International student driving

If you’re an international student, make sure you have a valid driving licence and check out the rules for driving in the UK. Why not check out our International Student Driving Guide to discover more?

Bicycle travel in the UK

Looking for the cheapest way to travel in the UK? Bike travel is an extremely popular mode of transport embraced by students, commuters and recreational cyclists. The UK boasts an expanding network of dedicated bike lanes and scenic cycle routes, such as the National Cycle Network, which spans thousands of miles across diverse landscapes.

Urban areas like London, Manchester, and Bristol have seen significant investments in cycling infrastructure, making it safer and more convenient for students who want to cycle to lectures or use their bikes to travel outside of uni.

How to use e-bikes and e-scooters

E-bikes and e-scooters are a fun, eco-friendly way to get around. Just download the relevant app, find a nearby bike or scooter, and you’re good to go. Not sure where to start? Keep an eye out for Santander Cycles, forest or lime bikes scattered around the city.

 

By using these nifty travel tips, you’ll be able to navigate the UK efficiently and affordably as a student. If you have any other questions or need more tips, get in touch with our friendly team at iQ Student Accommodation.