Slash Your Travel Expenses

6 Nov 2014
Thu, 11/06/2014 - 17:03

Travel costs are increasing, making it more and more expensive to get about. But Vivatic is here to help! I’ve put together this guide on how to slash travel expenses, featuring top tips from money saving expert Sean O’Meara from Watch My Wallet. Take a read and see how much you could save.


Take public transport to save money

Fuel has never been more expensive, so it’s really worth looking at your weekly car use and working out a) when you could be walking, and b) when you could be saving money by letting someone else do the driving.

You’d be hard pressed to not notice how popular cycling has become in the past few years. The Cycle To Work Scheme that lots of employers are getting involved in enables you to buy a new bike out of your pre-tax earnings. Check out the National Cycle Network’s 12,600 miles of cycle-friendly routes for ideas on where to head with your new wheels.

For longer journeys to visit friends and family, it pays dividends to book your rail tickets in advance, travel outside peak hours and commit to a specific train time on your outward and return journeys. Rail tickets often now come with extra offers included – normally two for one offers on entry to tourist attractions and theme parks in the town you’re headed for.

As an example, an advance purchase rail ticket from Exeter to Liverpool costs just £34 one way, or £117 if you rock up and pay on the day. The same journey by car would cost you £48 in fuel on average. And that’s without factoring in car depreciation, carbon emissions, and the fact that you can enjoy a glass of something en route.


How to save money driving

The fact remains, however, that many of us need a car. Especially if we’re living and working outside the major UK cities. But if you’re driving to work every day, why not set up a car pool scheme to split the petrol money and share the burden of driving amongst a few colleagues on a rota system? You could quarter your fuel bill this way.

Keeping your car in tip-top condition is another way to save money in the long run, even if it means spending in the short-term. Voucher sites like Groupon often put out cheap MOT and car servicing offers in your area, so get signed up for daily alerts and try to use smaller local garages which will be more open to haggling on prices.

Other tips for saving money on your car are:

  • Shop around for a better car insurance quote, then ask your current insurer to match it. They’ll probably do all they can to keep your custom. If they can’t match it, switch providers when your policy is up for renewal.
  • Know when your insurance policy is up for renewal. Paying by direct debit is not only costlier than paying annually in full, it makes it far too easy to become passive and let the policy roll over – even if it’s not the best deal.
  • Don’t speed! Once you hit 50mph, fuel efficiency drops considerably.
  • Check oil, coolant and brake fluid regularly to avoid costly (and dangerous) blowouts.
  • Get into the habit of checking your tyre pressure at the petrol station. Poorly inflated tyres make for a less fuel-efficient drive.
  • Don’t overload your car with people, baggage or attachments like roof racks. All put a strain on fuel consumption.
  • Switch off the air-con: it accelerates fuel consumption.


5 top tips from Sean O’Meara from Watch My Wallet

1. The power of plimsolls

Keep a pair of thin-soled shoes in your car for driving. Heavy-footedness is not the path to economical driving. You’ll be amazed how much you over-rev when driving in shoes or trainers with thick soles. Over-revving is one of the most unforgiveable ways to waste petrol, because doing it literally gets you nowhere.

Declutter your boot, open windows instead of using air con at low speeds (do the opposite at
high speeds), check tyre pressure and change your oil regularly to make further reductions to
your motoring bill.


2. Car sharing

If you suspect you could live without your car for most of the year, but daren’t give it up because of the few times where you can’t do without it, try one of the many shared-ownership or car-sharing schemes. City Car Club is an excellent stepping stone between full-on car ownership and car independence.

You pay a £50 annual subscription, then pay by the hour to use one of the hundreds of City Car Club cars located around the UK. If you need to travel a long distance, look into Blah Blah Car. They hook up drivers with passengers going to the same destination so they can share the petrol costs.


3. Bike

Aside from the higher vulnerability on the road, there’s pretty much no downside to cycling. It’s free, it’s healthy and it’s good for the environment. The key to sticking with it is to get a bike that’s suitable for your situation. For commuting to work, you’ll need a hybrid or a road bike.

If you’re cycling off-road, you’ll need a mountain bike. The Cycle to Work Scheme is a great way to get a better bike than you can actually afford. Because it’s a tax-free purchase, you’re effectively getting 30 percent off the cost of a new bike. If you’re travelling by train and want to make your onward journey on two wheels, look into Bike & Go, a great bike sharing scheme located at some of the UK’s busiest train stations.


4. Train tickets

Where possible, book your tickets in advance. Don’t just settle for what the train company’s website tells you is the cheapest either, try splitting your journey. For example, it can sometimes be cheaper buying several singles instead of a long-distance return.

But bear in mind if doing this that if any single leg of the journey is delayed; you’re only eligible to get compensation for that part of the journey, not the whole thing. So if one late connections messes up the entire trip, you can only claim back the cost of that particular part of the journey.

It’s also worth going direct to the train operator website to buy the tickets. Thetrainline.com is quite handy in that you can buy tickets from all operators in one place, but they charge £1.50 per order, which will eat into any savings you might make.


5. Compensation

Trains, buses and trams in the UK are expensive. No matter how one views the situation, we’re expected to pay a lot. Public transport won’t improve if the providers - most of whom receive generous tax-payer-funded subsidies – don’t feel the pain when they fall short.

That’s why it’s important to seek redress if you haven’t received the service you paid for. In November 2013, the EU passed laws that gave air passengers more rights. Now, if your flight is delayed for more than three hours you may be entitled to compensation. You can either claim it direct from the airline or ask a company to do it on your behalf, such as EU Delay. But keep in mind they’ll take a fee if successful.

The same goes for train fares, although each operator has its own criteria for issuing compensation. The best place to check is the train operator’s own charter. Public transport is costly enough, so always make sure you get something back if you’ve been under-served.


Read more from Sean at Watch My Wallet



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A massive thank you to Sean for sharing his excellent tips for cutting your travel expenses. Got a tip you’d like to share? Comment below – we’d love to hear from you.


I’ll be back soon with more thrifty money saving and money making tips. Good luck saving!


Cat


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