Thursday, 20 February 2014

Thrifty Theatre Travelling

I think we'd all agree that being a theatre fan is quite an expensive hobby. If you factor in ticket costs, booking fees, merch... ice cream at the interval, it all starts to add up. For me, I find my biggest expense is always travel. I live in Scotland, and am lucky that I have such diverse and interesting theatre right on my doorstep, but I am also a repeat attender and lover of London which leaves my bank account in a sorry state. Over the years I've tried to perfect the art of travelling on a budget, and have adopted 5 rules that have saved me a penny or two:

1. If travelling by train ALWAYS book 11 weeks in advance-

The train is my transport method of choice so this to me is a no brainer. Train companies always release seats 12 weeks before the travel date and I've found that on the 12th week the prices are at their highest - but a short 7 days later you get all the bargain fares. You need to be on the ball though, as these fares are limited and do get snapped up pretty quickly.

I know planning a trip 11 weeks in advance isn't always feasible, so if you're booking trains closer to your travel date then 'Best Fare Finder' is your new best friend. There are different versions of this tool but I swear by Virgin's offerings. You basically input your travel information and it gives you the cheapest available fare - genius!

3. Accommodation -

There's only one way to go for accommodation on a budget and that's the good old Travelodge. 9 times out of 10 these rooms work out cheaper than a private hostel room (and they come with en suites which is always a bonus). Travelodge are one of those companies that use any old excuse for a sale, and I mean any excuse.

If it's a public holiday or change in season we see a drop in prices but If you happen to check on the one day a year there's not a sale, look for the 'Find our lowest prices' tab. This works as a comparison tool for all the Travelodge hotels available in your city of choice and you are always guaranteed the lowest rate.

4.  The Megabus

Now I personally have mixed feelings about the Megabus. 8+ hours in a cramped seat often next to someone you don't know, with no refreshment facilities doesn't really sound like the dream scenario. You can't really argue with their prices though. I've seen myself getting a return from Glasgow - London for £20, which is amazing - however 4 hours in I am always willing to pay double to get off. If it's a life or death, need to see this show situation then this is a cheap way to do it and if you're the type of person that can fall asleep on a bus then more power to you.

They now offer a sleeper service - The Megabus Gold, which I have tried and if I hadn't been spoiled by their 'bendy bus' trial I would maybe be more of a fan. This is more expensive (averaging £40 per single journey) but it does save from forking out on a hotel room for an extra night.

5. Avoid Flying

If there was one tip I could give then this would be it. Flying short haul sucks! Delays are likely, you're restricted with baggage (unless you want to shell out to check in a bag) and contrary to popular belief it's not any quicker. By the time you get to the airport, wait on your flight, land at your destination and make your way to the city centre it doesn't work out any quicker. It does work out a lot more stressful though having to chop and change onto various transport methods.

So there you have it, the secrets to my thrifty travelling. If you have an upcoming show planned give one or more of these a go and see how much you could save too.

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