The journey home for Christmas is always an exciting, emotional one.
The price of trains in England has been steadily increasing for the last decade.
Yet despite more and more money leaving our pockets we’re rarely given any improvement in the standards of our train journeys.
The galling price of train travel is most notable when travelling long distance and is enough for even regular train travellers like myself to reconsider their options when the time comes to travel home for the Christmas season. Staying up in the North of England certainly has its benefits when it comes to saving money. Living expenses are much lower up here, rent is cheap and the food in shops cheaper than their counterparts in the South. Still when I came to book my journey home last year I found myself a little strapped for cash and simply unable to afford the prohibitive cost of the return journey home to Devon.
At a loss at what to do, I consulted a few of my favourite travel blogs for advice which led me to a number of airport parking comparison sites which revealed that that flying down from Manchester to Exeter was a more economical way to travel home for the holidays. Not only did choosing to fly save me £40, but the overall journey would also save me 45 minutes of time. The journeys might have gone without a hitch, I might have saved money and time, but the experience was certainly lacking. Despite the cost, there are still many benefits to taking the train over flying, chief of those being convenience.
This year I saved up the money that I needed to jump on the train and settled into a 5 hours-plus journey that reminded me of just how romantic a train journey can be.
The wind was brisk as I stepped aboard the first of my two trains which would take me all the way home to Devon. I’d booked a window seat as usual, and was pleased to find that my seat offered me the full width of a window (rather than the slither of a gap you are sometimes lumped with). My bag was packed with all the things I needed to enjoy a long train journey: plentiful sandwiches, a grab bag of my favourite crisps (Walkers’ Prawn Cocktail), my tablet for reading and headphones. I’d learned a long time ago that being properly prepared for a journey was a imperative to the enjoyment of the day, and if you’re going to pay up to £90 for a train ticket, you may as well enjoy the experience!
The train trundled out of the station and took me out of the city reaches towards Birmingham New Street. This stretch of rail features a few pleasant vistas; northern suburbs mixed with the occasional green field. It’s not until I embark on the second leg of my journey that I can sit back and really enjoy the view. Travelling in the afternoon, I’m afforded some truly stunning views of bucolic countryside on my way down from Birmingham which are complimented by the slowly setting sun. I read for half an hour stretches, punctuated by the occasional snack and cup of tea; anticipation slowly building for the holiday to come.
You just don’t get this kind of relaxation on a plane…