Student to Student
Student Budget Travel in the U.K.
By Gary Loach
| American students traveling in the U.K. now have budget options.
Living in the U.K. is not cheap relative to most countries in the world, but has recently become more affordable than the U.S. apart from London due the strength of the dollar. If you're a student, or under 26, there's plenty that you can do to minimize the cost of British life, even while traveling within the country.
Student Discounts in the U.K.
Retail chains, transportation companies, and even hotels offer student and youth discounts. To qualify for them you'll need to have a recognized form of identification. If you're studying at any U.K. university, it couldn't be easier: almost all institutions have their own Students Union, associated with the National Union of Students (NUS). Membership in NUS is free and their membership card gets you student discount rates across the country.
Many restaurants and hostels offer student rates, which range up to 50 percent off advertised prices. Some announce the fact, but many more leave it up to you to ask. Generally speaking, most major chain stores offer discounts on products such as stationery, books, CDs, and clothes. Many smaller, independent retailers also offer student discounts, particularly in university towns, although, again, they don't always advertise it. Local student unions maintain a list of local businesses that take part in the scheme.
Should you be planning to explore the British mainland, it's well worth investing in a Young Persons Railcard, available to students and anyone under 26, from mainline rail stations.
Many bars and nightclubs offer either discount student rates or student nights, and most of the major cinema chains offer significantly discounted student prices.
Student Discounts for Travel to Europe
If you plan to travel onwards into Europe, you'll need to get an International Student Identification Card (ISIC), available to anyone who is over 12, under 26,and studying for more than 15 hours per week. STAtravel is one of the best sources of student-discounted travel from the U.K., including vacation-time trips home and European explorer visits. They also issue the ISIC and the Youth Travel Card (IYTC).
Remember, if you're ever in doubt, it never hurts to ask if a student discount is available.
GARY LOACH is a London-based freelance journalist whose credits include the Sunday Times, BBC Magazines, and Time Out.