Student living is a toughie, budgeting is even tougher when your student loan barely covers your accommodation. Some people find commuting from home or further afield can be the cheaper alternative by saving money accommodation wise and with travel. I study in London but am actually from Suffolk. I have one more year of university left but need to commute again as I did last year. Commuting is actually quite easy for me, but for some can be a daunting and stressful experience. So if you're weighing up your options - heres my tips for being a student commuter!
STUDENT BANK ACCOUNTS: Sounds a strange one, but will make sense as you read on. I had a bank account with Santander but when I upgraded it to a student saver account, one of the 'extras' that came with it was a 16-25 4 Year Railcard. This saves you around £90 and also saves you a third on your travel every journey. For example, with this card I could get an advance train ticket from just outside Cambridge super off-peak for only £3.95... Bargain right! These cards come in so useful so make sure you don't get on a train without one!
APP IT: The National Rail app is my best friend when commuting. Simply put in your destinations and it will calculate your journey, cost and changes. It is mainly my best friend for checking train times and whether or not they'll be on time or not. I've had times where I'd be sitting on the tube and randomly checking it to find that every single train for my journey home had been cancelled, so it really does give you real time updates.
LEARN YOUR PLATFORMS: When you get on your train from your platform, remember where you got on from the platform and also remember where you end up on the platform when you get off. Same applies with the London Underground. Getting on at a certain point on the platform/door will allow you to get on at the best place for you at the other end. For example I learnt that by getting on past the second staircase in Liverpool Street's westbound Met/Circ/City line meant I'd get off at the exit staircase at Farringdon. Sounds strange but saves battling mad crowds!
ASK ASK ASK: There have been times where I've had to make split choices to get on a different train to get home. If my mainline train had been cancelled I'd immediately turn around, get myself back on the tube and get myself to the last stop on the tube as close to my home as possible. The worst thing you can do is panic - get yourself to the barrier say to the assistant. 'My train has been cancelled, will my ticket get me home to [here].' The staff at London train stations are possibly the most helpful and polite people I've encountered.
STANDING: I have a rule for the tube or short train journeys that are busy or just a quick ride. If the tube is more than two stops then I can sit down, if not stand and let someone who needs the seat more have it. Similarly, if the train is packed and it's only a 5-20-minute journey, stand and just take it. Yes, you paid for a seat, but you probably can last up to 20 minutes standing comfortably!
OFF PEAK and SUPER OFF PEAK: You may know that the rush hour trains are more expensive due to demand, however if you can do it or if you have a late lesson for uni then get yourself on the off-peak and super off-peak trains. You'll save loads by doing so as it can be around £5+ cheaper for a return. Off Peak means you should travel after 11pm and before 4pm and then again after 7pm. However you'll find some tickets will allow you through the barriers even during peak times. This is something you'll discover once you get into your routine of commuting.
Trains are actually quite easy to use once you know your route so educate yourself well before you make it a consistent daily commute. I also recommend getting the earlier trains prior to a daily routine as you have no idea which trains are most crowded or better in terms of facilities until you've tried them.
I hope this is somewhat helpful to anyone who's a bit anxious about commuting and the costs! What are your tips for travelling?