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How to travel on a budget

Flight-free travel doesn't have to be more expensive. We take a look at how to keep the cost down when it comes to travelling overland.

05 Jan 2023 2 min read

1. Take the coach

Coach travel is generally the cheapest way to travel, and can even rival budget airlines. There’s an extensive network of coach routes throughout the UK and Europe, including Flixbus, Megabus and National Express

It’s not the most luxurious way to travel, but coaches can be an excellent option, with comfy seating, wifi, at-seat charging and regular comfort stops. 

For coach travel inspiration, go here: Overnight By Coach

2. Rail and Sail

Some ferry routes from the UK offer a ‘rail and sail’ option, which combines train travel and the ferry crossing into one ticket, making the overall journey much cheaper. 

These include StenaLine ferries to Hoek van Holland (from Harwich), Belfast (from Cairnryan) and Rosslare (from Fishguard), and also Irish ferries from Holyhead to Dublin. 

Tickets are mostly less than £50 from most train stations across the UK. You can even travel all the way from Glasgow to Belfast for just £35.

Buy at the Trainline.

3. Plan ahead

As with any type of travel, the earlier you book, the cheaper it is. Set alerts on RailEurope to let you know when tickets go on sale.

4. Go by bike

For the ultimate budget holiday, try a bike tour! You don’t pay anything for the travel itself, just extra cake to fuel the journey. Check out our ‘How to travel by bike’ pages for tips on making a go of it on two wheels.

Trains, ferries and bikes are a great combination, so add the Rail and Sail option to go further afield, for example to explore the cycling utopia that is the Netherlands. 

5. Buy a Euro Anytime Return train ticket 

Getting across the UK to London (for Eurostar) or to one of the south coast ports is often the most expensive part of a European trip. National Rail offers a ‘Euro Anytime Return’ which can save a few quid for this part of your journey. 

The ticket is valid for two months after your departure date, so should cover all but the longest travel adventures, and is available to buy at the ticket office to anyone with a Eurostar or Rail Sea international ticket, or buy online at

6. Interrail

No longer the preserve of backpacking students, Interrail has seen a resurgence in recent years. Buying a pass can work out to be very cost-effective if your journey has several legs. Look out for sales on Interrail passes throughout the year.

7. Go by ferry

Taking the ferry to the continent is slower, but often much cheaper than going by train, especially for foot or bicycle passengers. There are lots of options from the south and east coast of England, all the way from Plymouth to Newcastle. Our ‘How to travel by ferry’ page will tell you everything you need to know.

8. Travel overnight

Overnight coaches and sleeper trains can give great value for money, mainly because they remove the need for a hotel. In addition, travelling while you sleep is a great use of time, and the recent resurgence of sleeper trains has opened many more destinations across Europe.

Tips for a comfortable night: bring eye mask, ear plugs and neck pillow.