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Please suffer one more London travelcard question

Please suffer one more London travelcard question

Apr 20th, 2015, 05:50 PM
  #1  
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Please suffer one more London travelcard question

DH and I are flying to London this coming Friday night, our first visit to the UK. We are spending one night in London before taking the train from Paddington to Bath on Sunday afternoon to commence a two week Rick Steves' tour (Best of Britain -- Bath, Cotswolds, Wales, Lake District, York, and then back to London). I have rented an apartment in Kensington for five days post tour, for a total of seven nights in London, before returning to Chicago on May 14.

Since I purchased the train tickets to Bath on First Great Western (found that pre-purchase was much cheaper), I have been receiving regular promo emails from them, pitching 2for1 (and other) deals via the Days Out Guide. I found this past weekend that I could create an account and then print out vouchers for all manner of attractions, tours, restaurants... While the form requires the date of the visit and the train station one is departing from, the vouchers themselves are generic, with no dates or locations appearing on them, just expiration and blackout dates. I understand that these vouchers are to be presented with a train ticket valid on the date of the visit to get the deal.

At the same time, I am trying to figure out the most economical way to travel during our seven days in London at the end of and post-tour, and that would seem to be a 7-day travelcard for each of us, for zones 1-2, which cost £32.10 each (I believe), or perhaps zones 1-3 for £37.70.

So, now the questions (I apologize in advance if I just haven't searched the forums or the pertinent websites well enough to figure this out on my own):

1. 7-day travel card can either be "housed" on an Oyster card bought in a tube station (which has a £3 administrative fee if turned back in within a month) or on a paper card issued at a national rail station (no fee, but need passport-sized photo)? But otherwise the two "versions" work the same way, are valid on the same modes of transport, cover the same areas, etc? Zones 1-2 are probably enough?

2. Are the 7-days comprised of seven calendar days (like, I first use it at 2 PM on a Sunday and then it's good through midnight the next Saturday), or is it seven 24-hour periods (first use it at 2 PM Sunday and it's good until the following Sunday at 1:59 PM)? I've got return tickets on the Heathrow Express, but will need one last tube ride from the apartment to Paddington on the morning we leave...

3. Oyster card can be loaded with travelcard and some PAYG £ to cover trips outside of zones 1-2 (like Hampton Court)? This is not possible with a paper, rail-issued travel card? If not, what is best method to cover trips outside of zones 1-2 with paper card? Buy a separate ticket? Or is there some way to do an add-on for the part of the trip in zones 3-5 not covered by the travelcard?

4. Not wanting to "scam" the system, but still wanting to be a smart little tourist, am I correct in thinking that we could use one (or more) of those generic vouchers from the Days Out Guide at any time during the seven-day period covered by the rail-issued paper travelcard? Or, does one need an actual rail ticket for the specific date of the visit?

5. If no. 4 doesn't work, is there any reason for week-long tourists like us to get a paper travelcard instead of an Oyster, except to avoid the £3 administrative fee (unless the paper one has a fee, too, that I've missed)?

Thanks very much!
purduegrad is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 06:15 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 126
I'm not an expert, but I do know this:

You can load a TfL 7-day travel card onto an Oyster card and this may be a good option for your week in London after your RS tour. HOWEVER, in order to get the 2-4-1 deals, you must have either a valid train ticket for the day for which you use the voucher, or a paper 7-day travelcard issued by, and purchased at, a mainline National Rail train station. The 7-day travelcard loaded on an Oyster will not qualify you for the 2-4-1 deals.

Zones 1-2 are probably enough, yes.

As far as I know, you may use as many 2-4-1 vouchers as you like, provided you have the voucher and the eligible rail card, but I am not certain. Hmmm.

I am sure others, with better knowledge of the system than I have, will be along soon to help you.
KyraS is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 07:01 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
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I agonized and crunched numbers for over a month, trying to decide between Oyster card and Travelcard. I finally just bought us 7 day Travelcards zone 1-2. I was so frustrated, and then Rick Steves (in book)said if you will be there more than 4 days do Travelcard, although the math is fuzzy. I became sooooo, soooooo sick of trying to figure it out that I decided if I lose a few dollars I don't even care. I don't ever want to think about it again. When I purchased our travelcards it asked what day we would begin using them. Maybe you can just call? Its very confusing. Good luck and let us know how the tour goes, that sounds so fun!
JenniferCO is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 09:00 PM
  #4  
 
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1. The cost difference between a Travelcard and PAYG on an Oyster is geberally trivial. What matters is that the 2 for 1 deal works only on a paper Travelcard bought from a National Rail ticket offfice

2. 7 days are 7 24 periods, each ending around 0400 (google for greater precision if it matters). So day 1 is the period from the card's start (the moment you buy it, or 0401 - or whatever - the morning of the day you've asked for it to commence validity) to 0400 the following morning

3.You can buy Z1 to whatever Travelcards. If you don't, just go to a manned ticket office and ask for an extension ticket to, say, Hampton Court.

4. You need a ticket (which may be either a National Rail-issued TRavelcard or a ticket to London) that's valid on the day you want to visit the attraction

5. Under some circumstances, Travelcards may be cheaper than modern payment systems. The difference, if any, will be trivial and require you both to predict with 100% accuracy your every journey AND to spend hours calculating. Life ought to be too short, and London's attractions too many, to justify either activity
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 21st, 2015, 03:51 PM
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Well, I think I got it. We shall see!

Thanks!
purduegrad is offline  
Apr 21st, 2015, 04:37 PM
  #6  
 
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Not sure if this will help but here goes:

What I plan to do is have some credit on PAYG Oyster card (which I have leftover so will just need a bit of top-up) AND buy a 7 day travel card zones 1-2 purchased at Paddington station; I choose paper for our 7+ days there because we will be going to a few 2-4-1 eligible sites, so it will be a savings.

But I will have trips on Day 8 and MAYBE some other out of Zones 1-2 so I will use the Oyster for those. So a little money on my Oyster cards, a 7-day-paper card for the bulk of our travels.

And yep looks like paper card requires passport sized photo, so I plan to have those with us to maybe save time.

As you don't already have Oyster cards, not sure if this solution is a solution or just a complication.

Do post a Trip Report and have a great time! (We leave in 40 days!!)
texasbookworm is offline  
Apr 21st, 2015, 05:21 PM
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Thanks, texas! I will certainly post a trip report (you can look at my profile to see other ones, from Hawaii to Rome) because I spend a lot of time lurking and benefitting from the forums, so feel that I should contribute where I can.
purduegrad is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 03:25 AM
  #8  
 
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"4. You need a ticket (which may be either a National Rail-issued TRavelcard or a ticket to London) that's valid on the day you want to visit the attraction"

This is completely wrong. You necessarily don't need a train ticket for the day. First If you have a 7 day paper travel card which have purchased at a train station then that's all you need. This has been explained so many times that I amazed that anyone could get it wrong. Also, if you have a 7 day travel card, then there is no reason that you need to get involved with Oyster.

Second, you also don't need to have a ticket for the day if you have both ends of a round trip. You can use the vouchers any day on or between travel days if you show the arrival ticket and the departure ticket.
ambo is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 07:22 AM
  #9  
 
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"This is completely wrong."

It's not. If you were capable of reading English (which you clearly aren't) you'd realise your verbose, and largely irrelevant, stuff about Travelcards is exactly what I've said, only more longwinded.

You are, however, accurate in pointing out that my word "valid", as applied to a conventional railway ticket is misleading. For the avoidance of doubt: we all agree (I hope) that return railway tickets to a qualifying London station, within the period of their validity, may be used to get 2 for 1 deals.
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 08:24 AM
  #10  
 
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Ultimately, it seems like your Bath tickets to and fro will NOT encompass your stay in Kensington and therefore won't be valid during your end-of-trip stay in London.

For that reason, when you return from Bath, you should buy 7-day paper travelcards at Paddington (or whatever rail station is closest to your return point), not Oyster cards. The Oyster cards are useless for 2for1 offers. (The PAYG Oysters cap the daily charges at the cost of a one-day travelcard). Texasbookworm will be in London for more than 7 days, you won't, so for her the Oyster can be useful, for you it's more likely to be a complication.

If you're in Kensington of any sort (a post code for the flat would reveal its exact location - flat ads tend to use the name of the nicest nearby neighborhood), you should be in Zone 1 (at furthest, 2) so you only need a 1-2 travelcard.
BigRuss is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 08:40 AM
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I'll need to buy paper travel cards when I arrive in London. I understand they aren't available at Heathrow. What's the closest location to St. Katherine's Dock to purchase?
elberko is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:00 AM
  #12  
 
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London bridge is pretty close and convenient to Borough market, Southwark Cathedral, and the Shard.

But Fenchurch Street is the very closest.
janisj is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:06 AM
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Thanks, janisj. Googling was not getting me anywhere.
elberko is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:09 AM
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If you're going to Fenchurch Street you could combine it with the Skygarden which is right there, and the tickets are free!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:16 AM
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But you need to pre- book them apparently. I'm eating there next week.
janisj is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:18 AM
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I looked at the website briefly...so tickets would be to go up to a garden/viewing area? and there is a restaurant, too?
elberko is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2015, 09:28 AM
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Just found your post, welltraveledbrit. Looks like lots of good info!
elberko is online now  
Apr 24th, 2015, 03:45 AM
  #18  
 
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Glad the post was useful, by May I should start blogging about London too!

Yes, janisj is entirely right, you need to prebook the tickets for Skygarden but during the week they seem to have availability if you book a few days in advance. The tickets take you up to the top floor where there is a viewing platform outside and an open section which is a casual cafe inside, this is the bit that feels like an airport lounge. There is a more elaborate restaurant in the roof area with stairways on with side which lead to an indoor viewing area looking north. You can see the city from 360 degrees. It's all about the view not the garden.

I'll be really interested to hear how you find the food janisj...
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Apr 24th, 2015, 04:49 AM
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Thanks! It sounds like it might be a good first day walk--get our travel cards and go up to Skygarden to get a feel for where we are in relation to rest of the city.
elberko is online now  
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