TRAVEL IN AND AROUND LONDON, THE UK AND EUROPE
TRAVELLING back to your HOME COUNTRY
The International Organisation for Migration offers reduced fares and increased luggage allowance however this is only for single/one-way routes for students returning to their home country or for UK students going to study abroad which is probably more useful for Post-Graduate Students but is definitely good to keep in mind for when graduation rolls around.
The IOM also offers introduction sessions on living in London which covers issues regarding laws, finance, accounts and banks, health, transport etc. These are obviously services you can find from our wonderful welfare dept as well the SU. I haven’t yet used this option myself, but having been contacted by them I see no harm in inquiring further into their services.
TRAVELLING AROUND LONDON
THE INFAMOUS TUBE and BUSES
The tube, over ground and DRL cover transport over 9 zones of Greater London.
For people commuting regularly, it's useful to look into getting a seasonal ticket which allows you to use the bus/trains for specific periods of times i.e. A week/month/year etc.
You can get 30% off seasonal tickets by applying for a student oyster card. To get a student oyster card all you need is a digital photo of yourself, enrolment number as well a credit/debit card to pay the 10 pound application number:
*key thing to note however is that the tube is not 24hrs but closes at 1am (be sure to catch it by 12.45pm though) and opens again at 4.45am. In addition, make sure you plan your route and regularly check www.tfl.gov.uk to make sure the lines you need are open as 'engineer works' are frequent and flippin annoying.
Quite possibly the best option for students – its eco-friendly, budget-friendly and fitness-wise it helps the winter weight off!
If you’re quite sure about cycling around London and aren’t immediately interested in buying a bicycle and would like to have a taster session, the Boris Johnson’s BARCLAYS BICYCLES scattered around central London are worth a try. The first 30mins are free and if you’d like to try a quieter route without any traffic, Hyde Park are a good option for a calm circuit as there are plenty of docking stations around the area.
SOAS also has Postal Bicycles which we had gotten from the government as British Mail had used them back in the day instead of ugly vans to deliver mail around neighbourhoods. They’re proper vintage stuff with really handy baskets in the front (for all those books) and they’re probably the sturdiest things, in fact our veteran cyclist MAXIMILIAN GW had in fact cycled from London to Kent as well as Brighton on this tank-of-a-bicycle. The rental scheme is run on trust as it’s free for everyone, you just need to ask for a key from the SU and have a lock in hand.
If you’re happy to invest in BUYING A BICYCLE… (hurrah!)
The two main cycling shops around London is Evans and Cycle Surgery however these are better options for those of you who’d like to get a brand new (expensive) bicycle, otherwise cheaper alternatives include Halfords which sell sturdy bicycles and have cheaper accessories. I would however highly recommend BRIXTON CYCLES which is a Co-Op bicycle shop which is probably the best I’ve found in terms of service and ethos which is reflected in the relatively cheap price and wonderful community concept behind it. There’s also a really cool skate park next door to it for those of you into BMX/skating etc and they also have a Cycles club (although SOAS has a pretty amazing one as well )
A good thing to check for if you choose to buy ANYTHING from bicycles/accessories/snacks from EVANS or CYCLE SURGERY is to do something called a PRICE CHECK – both companies basically challenge you to find a price in another shop that sells the same product for a lower price, which they will match. You need to bring some print off or digital copy to prove it of course but considering retail price is always a 40% + mark-up from the wholesale price, its worth looking into.
For a CHEAPER option, SECOND HAND bicycles can be found around central London but are obviously cheaper as you go further out. The more central options are Camden Cycles and another popular option for students is Bricklane and Brixton market however be warned that many of these bicycles sold are often stolen – a friend of mine was walking around Bricklane and luckily caught the bugger that stole her beautiful bicycle so bear that in mind before venturing down that route – it’d be pretty embarrassing if he had caught a person who had just bought it.
Druid Cycles offers vintage bicycles which are beautiful but pricey so beware, their shop is definitely by far the most interesting I’ve been into and the only way to know this is to go there. Furthermore, being run by a German veteran soldier and engineer, they are beautifully smooth machines, no two bicycles are the same so you will definitely have your friends drooling in envy.
Further out of London, south of the river Josef’s Cycles and Repairs is personally, one of the best kept secrets in terms of second hand bicycles. They are particularly keen on promoting cycling among students and on that basis, provide bigger discounts and better deals e.g. being given a lock, lights, and various other accessories for free as well as a bicycle.
If you’re looking to buy bicycles online, than www.ebay.com is the first option however placing bids and making sure you get the bid is r e a l l y time-consuming and for the most part, getting a good bicycle comes down to luck.
Otherwise to find completely FREE BICYCLES you can always try www.freecycle.com which if you register allows you to a massive treasure trove of free things which people are looking to recycle (by giving stuff away for free!) Bicycles however don’t show up as frequently as beds and furniture so again, this takes time and luck. On the other hand, Druid Cycles near London Bridge usually offer a free bicycle after putting in a few hours of work so speak to Thor (the owner of the shop, and yes his name really is Thor, greek god of thunder) for more information http://druidcycles.wordpress.com/
In terms of BICYCLE WORKSHOPS available, there are various free general maintenance workshops which run monthly, these two are by far the most popular (and it gives you a chance to check out hackney which is a great neighbourhood):
Cycle Surgery and Evans also run monthly workshops but you need to ask for when and where these are run in the shop as they don’t advertise free things like this on their website :S
In any case the SOAS CYCLING CLUB also runs workshops around SOAS on a regular basis so sign up so you can keep tabs on when they’ll be, as well as day-cycles to Cambridge, oxford, cornwall and other pretty places during the week to bigger adventures like Calais, Paris, Barcelona and perhaps even Rome!…
TRAVELLING AROUND the UK, EUROPE and ELSEWHERE!
Make the most of your time in the UK, there’s a lot of history to be found and there are so many different sides of seeing what Britain is all about! The cheapest way to get around the country albeit not the most comfortable is definitely coach buses.
To Oxford are buses which leave from Marble Arch every day so it’s a nice option for a day/overnight trip http://www.oxfordtube.com/
Otherwise elsewhere around the UK the cheaper bus option is megabus for which you can get fares of just ONE POUND! http://uk.megabus.com/default.aspx
Otherwise you can also look into National Express which offers transport via bus/coach/trains around the country http://www.nationalexpress.com/home.aspx
For DISCOUNTS AND DEALS do the following:
- Book in advance, as mentioned earlier some fares can be as low as POUND (this has been tried and tested so trust me its a real deal!!)
- Invest in getting a National Rail Card, you can get 1/3 of the price slashed not only from train fares but also from seasonal tickets for the tube/bus around London so it’s doubly worth the money! http://www.railcard.co.uk/
- Keep your eye on this fella who’s always got the low-down on where to go for free things and discounts on not just ticket fares but virtually everything else in the market.
Around Europe, I’d recommend you check out using the the InterRail where you can travel to 30 countries for 150 pounds, or travel around 1 (from a choice of 27 countries) for 30 pounds – note that these are just starting prices but they save you a lot of money at the end of the day and you get to see a lot more of the land than you would were you flying by in the sky.
For a FREE alternative, I’d highly recommend that you try your hand at cross-country cycling (ask cycling society for advice) or even hitchhike which you can either do with the SU as there is a society for that or independently!
Otherwise for travelling by plane around Europe and beyond, the most useful cost comparison flight finders are the following:
Over in ULU (University London Union which is just round the corner from SOAS) as well as down the road towards Brunswick and Russell Square tube station, there is a Student Travel Agency (STA) which offer package holidays and deals so you can always ask them for a quote or advice.
Apart from the above suggestions, the three low-cost airlines which are well known amongst students often have very cheap flights (some for as low as 3 pounds) so do have a look when you’re daydreaming in the library of where your next adventure will be…