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Elizabeth_Edwards Jan 11th, 2012 12:10 PM

Oyster Card/Travel Card for 7-Day Stay in London
Hello! After reading through many of the threads on oyster cards and travel passes...I just want to doublecheck with an expert :-) For the below itinerary:

Arriving Heathrow on a Wed at 7:30 am
Taking tube from airport to South Kensington
Staying 7 nights in S. Kensington
Taking tube back to Heathrow at 3:00 pm the following Wednesday (from S. Kensington)
Planning to take the Tube around the city during my stay--Zones 1&2
May take a trip to Oxford one day

So would it be best to buy a 7-day Travelcard for Zones 1& 2 and get it put on an easier-to-use oystercard at the airport when I arrive and ask the person to put an "extension"? (is that the right term?) on it for the trip to and from Heathrow? Two extensions? How would it work since I will actually be using the tube 8 days...Do the Heathrow rides count on the 7-day pass or is that what the extension is? (Though on the last day of my stay I will only be riding out to Heathrow from South Kensington, not running around the city.) Someone had mentioned not activating the card until the day after I arrive to keep the 7 days in tact…And for the Oxford trip, I would just buy a round trip ticket at the Paddington Station? Do I need a seat reservation for that or just show up and purchase the ticket?

Any suggestions/opinioned welcomed!

Thanks in advance for any advice/opinion!

texasbookworm Jan 11th, 2012 03:02 PM

I'm not an expert. I do have an opinion, though--I think buying an Oyster card when you arrive at LHR and putting a certain amount of money (PAYG) on it (the agent could suggest what that would be) would be just as easy and MAYBE even a little cheaper. Why? Because with a 7-day card, the money is spent, whether you actually use any transport that day or not, or if you don't use much. And if you are going to take a day trip, you would "lose" that money unless you were using a lot of public tranport in London in addition to out of town travel. And Oyster PAYG cards are easily topped up and you can turn them in for a refund of remaining funds at the end of your trip. And if you had any interest in any of the Two-for-one sites, you'd need a PAPER one-day pass bought at TRAIN/RAIL stations anyway, also, so having the 7daypass loaded on Oyster wouldn't enable you to use any of those vouchers. But you may have taken all those things into consideration and decided the 7daypass is best--in which case I don't have an answer for your other real question about extensions (except yes you would need one for going and one for coming) or about dates of validity. The Tfl agent should be helpful.

And about Oxford (you will have FUN!) there is another option for travel which is probably cheaper and about as fast--there are two bus/coach services, one called the OxfordEspress (yes with an "s") and one the OxfordTube (which is NOT the Tube in London or associated with it). These run frequently from the same stops and drop you off in the middle of Oxford and you pay on the bus. So, just another option.

BigRuss Jan 11th, 2012 08:21 PM

Ok, I'm inferring from the OP that there is only one person. If there are two of you, get an Oyster PAYG ("pay as you go") generally and put fare to and from LHR on it and get a SEVEN-DAY travelcard at a rail station (Victoria is likely closest to where you'll be). The PAYG stops charging you when you hit the one-day travelcard fee.

Fact is, if you're traveling around London from South Kens, the PAYG caps your total cost at a level that in four days will hit the cost of the week-long Travelcard. And buying single-day travelcards on the day you decide to use a two-fer just costs (nearly) an extra 6 quid each, which effectively negates a large part of the discount. So if there are two of you, get the paper card and use an Oyster for going to the plane.

If there's just you, get a PAYG Oyster and load money on it and add as needed unless you determine on day one that you'll hit the caps every day (unlikely).

And you're going to be a short haul from Paddington for Oxford trains, so the coaches may be better options.

flanneruk Jan 11th, 2012 09:30 PM

The two competing bus services to Oxford don't use the same stops (or even routing) in London, though they do use the same stops in Oxford. Their websites show their London routing and stops

Both are LESS convenient to get to from most South Ken addresses than the train, and take a bit longer. Both run 24 hours a day, more frequently, stop more centrally in Oxford, and offer, with complete flexibility, prices about the same as the very lowest price it's possible to get on a train if you book in advance and commit yourself precisely to specific trains. Neither are suitable if you want to get back to London to see a play or opera (outgoing rush hour traffic in Oxford is as bad as West London's extended evening rush hour), unless you're happy to leave Oxford around 3.

Phil Jan 12th, 2012 12:02 AM


As a frequent visitor to London, I do generally buy a 7-day travelcard if staying 5 or more days. If staying less than 5 days, I simply do load enough money for pay-as-you-go.

In your case, I would purchase a 7-day travelcard (£29.20) for zones 1&2 to pick up at a heathrow airport station (the exact station depends on which terminal you will be arriving)valid from your day of arrival. Plus add for pay-as-you-go £2.60 (peak time journey extension from Heathrow to zone 2 on the day of arrival) and £2.90 (off-peak journey from South Kensington to Heathrow on your day of departure).

This will total £34.70 for unlimited travel in zones 1 and 2 on the first 7 days and for your travels from heathrow on day 1 and to heathrow on day 8. Should you wish to travel outside zones 1 and 2 and/or make additional rides on day 8, you will be able to top up at any station.

Note that the 7-day travelcard costs less than 4 one-day travelcards that include the morning rush hour and less than 5 one-day off-peak travelcards (not valid before 09:30 am).

Hope this helps, enjoy your trip


jamikins Jan 12th, 2012 01:57 AM

I completely agree with Phil. Any stay over 5 days I just tell my guests to get the 7 day pass. Then you dont have to think about it - you can jump on and jump off transit. Easy!

Elizabeth_Edwards Jan 12th, 2012 07:50 AM

Hi Everyone--wow--thanks SO MUCH for all the helpful info. I really appreciate the extra insight and opinion. THANK YOU!

I'll be sure to post my other London questions to you guys--there are many!


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