Student to Student
Student Budget Travel in the U.K.
By Gary Loach
Living in the U.K. is not cheap. But if you're a student, or under 26, there's plenty that you can do to minimize the cost of British life.
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.
If you plan to travel onwards into Europe, you'll need to get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), available to anyone who is over 12 and studying for more than 15 hours per week . ISIC also issues International Youth Travel Cards (IYTC) to anyone who is under 26, regardless of their study commitments, and the discounts are comparable to the ISIC card.
STA travel 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 ISIC and Youth cards.
Many retailers, 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.
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.