Anyone who knows me will know that Master C is a massive train fan. He’s just obsessed with them. One of his most common questions at the moment is “Mummy…. When are we going to do something trainy?”
Combine his train addition with my love of all things thrifty, and it will be no surprise to hear how big a fan I am of the Family and Friends Railcard. We’ve had one since Little Miss C was old enough to need train tickets buying for her (children under the age of five don’t need a ticket on most trains) and it must have saved us hundreds and hundreds of pounds in that time.
Living in St Albans we’re lucky enough to travel into London fairly regularly by train (it would be draft to drive as it takes at least twice as long and with the cost of parking is also more expensive) and each time we do we save. Master C’s favourite train journey though isn’t going into London. No, it’s simpler than that. A quick trip north on the Thameslink line up to Luton. It may only be three stops away, but that’s long enough for it to become an adventure for him. And for me, it’s an adventure that can be squeezed in after a day at school. Perfect.
For Master C it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey itself. Once we get to Luton he’d probably be quite happy if we just turned straight around and got a train south again. Being a tea addict though I at least insist that we stay there long enough to have a cuppa. The fact that there’s a conveniently located Starbucks just outside the train station is rather handy. It’s in the same building as the travel centre, and also has a cracking view out of its large windows of both the train station and Luton bus station. What more could a little boy ask for.
A quick cuppa for me and a smoothie and chocolate coin for him and we head back home. Often allowing enough time to sit on the platforms at Luton watching the fast East Midlands trains rush through, or if he’s really lucky watching two four carriage trains coupling together. That’s when Master C starts showing how obsessed he really is, as he tries engage everyone else on the platform in conversation about exactly what is going on. It really is awfully cute!
Our Friends and Family Railcard doesn’t just take us to Luton though. Over the summer the four of us went on a little camping holiday up in Nottinghamshire where my mum and sister live. We planned a day trip from there up to York, with the simple aim of going to visit the National Railway Museum. Master C’s train addition is well known, but my OH B probably matches him in that addiction, so it was very much a “trainy” day out for all involved.
What many people don’t realise about the Family and Friends Railcard is that it can actually cover up to four adults and four children travelling together. The railcard itself has two named adults on it, but you only need one of those adults to be travelling at any one time. You can then have other adults with you and also any four children. This works perfectly for us, as sometimes it’s just me and Master C, but on other occasions there might be the two of us, my two kids and my step-daughter L. All five of us then get discounted travel. On this trip up to York though there were six of us in total, four adults and two kids, and all four of us got a discount. There was 1/3 off the adult tickets, and 60% off the children’s ones. With the exact trains we chose it saved us £28 on that one trip. When you bear in mind that the Railcard costs £30 for a whole 12 months you can see that we almost saved that much with just one use of it. What a bargain!
Add to that a saving of £4 each time Master C and I go to Luton together and a massive £22.20 when four of us go to London. It’s easy to see how these savings add up very quickly. If you’re wondering how much you could save on a journey you make with your family then take a look at this handy journey planner on the Family and Friends Railcard website. Not only does it help you plan your journey, but it will also show you how much your railcard will save on your chosen journey.
And if all that isn’t enough to convince you, travelling by train on family days out also means that you can get some great 2FOR1 entry offers at places like ZSL London Zoo, the Tower of London and the London Eye. Add those savings on to the amount you can save on the train tickets with you Family and Friends Railcard and you’re quids in!