Visitor Travelcard

Old Feb 22nd, 2002, 08:55 PM
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Visitor Travelcard

Is it better (cheaper) to buy the visitor travelcard for London in the US before you go? We are a family of 5 and want to take public transportation whenever possible.
Old Feb 22nd, 2002, 09:40 PM
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The visitor travel card sold in the States is not a bargain. It covers all six travel zones and 95% of the major sites are inside zone 1. So you end up paying for a lot of travel you would never take. wait until you get to London and but Zone 1 cards.
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 12:57 AM
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The visitor travel card sold in the States is not a bargain. It covers all six travel zones and 95% of the major sites are inside zone 1. So you end up paying for a lot of travel you would never take. wait until you get to London and but Zone 1 cards.

Not really true...there is a visitor's travelcard available that covers zones 1 & 2 for 7 days (there are also cards for 3 and 4 days) but they are not particularly good buys.

1. They are a little bit more expensive than comparable products available in London but the difference in price is not the significant drawback of the visitor's travelcard.

2. You don't actually get the card in the US. You get a voucher that has to be exchanged in London only at certain stations for the card. In fairness, among the stations you can get the travelcard at are Heathrow and Victoria if you pick up the card immediately upon arrival. But if you use any means into central London other than the tube, you might not be near a staton that will exchange the voucher.

OTOH you can purchase the 7 day travelcards either for zone 1 or for zone 1 & 2 at any Underground station. Even if you are using the tube into central London from Heathrow, you buy either the zone 1 or the zone 1 & 2 card at Heathrow and ask for an extension ticket to cover the outer zones for that trip. The extension runs about £2.30 if you use the zone 1 card and £2.10 if you use the zone 2....

The only "drawback" cited by some ignorant people is that you need a passport sized photo but they are not very particular. Go through your picture collection, find a picture you don't want to keep in the collection and cut it down to passport photo size. Or when you get your passport photos, get a couple of extra...

I have even read some people talk of the hassle of dealing with things such as this upon arriving after a long flight in a strange foreign country. I just returned from England and I discovered something....folks, the language spoken by the clerks on the Underground is.......English. If you walk up to the clerk at the station and bravely say, "I should like to purchase a 7 day zone 1 travelcard with an extension", he or she will understand every word you are saying. He or she will ask you for your photo, put it on a photocard, punch a few buttons on his or her consolve and voila you have your tickets. He will say, "£18.50 please" and you will hand over your credit card (yes the Underground takes MC or Visa (not AMex)) slide it through a machine that looks just like the machines at home, out will come a slip, you sign it and you're on your way. Sure doesn't sound complicated to me.

Incidentally, you also pay an additinal $10 for the voucher to be delivered by Fedex if you think you're getting convenience with the Visitor's travelcard as some think....and there is the hassle of waiting home for it to be delivered.

So, you can decide which is more convenient.
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 04:08 AM
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I just had to research this for my family's trip last summer. As others have said, the visitor's travel card is more trouble and expense than it's worth.

As a family of 5, if you have kids under 16 you might be better off getting daily Family Travelcards, even if you'll be there a full week. This is the sort of card that can't be bought before 9:30 AM on weekdays (no restrictions on weekends), but might be cheaper in the long run.

When you buy daily Family TravelCards, you tell the ticket-seller how many adults and how many kids; everyone gets their own ticket to use all day on the tube and buses. For Zones 1 and 2, the price would be 2.70 per adult and 80p per kid, so if you have 3 kids under 16 that would be 8.20 pounds per day. So 7 days of this would cost 57.40 pounds.
(A regular adult daily travelcard would cost 4.10, so you can see that families get quite a subsidy! There is also an day travelcard with no 9:30 time limit, for 5.30 pounds.)

The 7-day TravelCard, by comparison, has no 9:30 time limit, and obvously you don't have to deal with buying new tickets every day. The price for zones 1 and 2 is 19.30 per adult and 23.7 per kid, so out hypothetical family would pay 62.30 for these. The extra 5 pounds might be worth the convenience of not buying new tickets every day and not waiting til 9:30, but if you're not taking the tube on all 7 days (walking around or going on a tour for example, or staying less than 7 days) then you might prefer to get the daily family travel cards; that's what we did!

You can get all these details and more at

The site says that kids age 14 and 15 require a photo ID to get kids' travel cards, but I didn't learn this until halfway through our trip last summer, which included a mature-looking 15-year-old, and we were never questioned in any of the dozen or more times that I bought these family travel cards, so I'd ignore this fact (but carry a photocopy of the relevant passport page just in case - you could use it as proof of age AND cut out the photo!).
Old Feb 23rd, 2002, 04:14 AM
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Oops, buried in the above is a comment that the 7-day travel card costs "23.7 per kid" but that's the figure for 3 kids; the price is 7.90 per kid.

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