We are going away for Christmas. Not, sadly, the Bahamas but Cambridgeshire. In the spirit of saving money and the planet and possibly a few grey hairs, I idly wondered whether it would be possible to do the journey by train without having to sell an organ or two to pay for it.
The National Rail website is super-easy to navigate and quickly comes up with a fare of £78.30 return for me and the boy from our home on the south coast to rural, flat, nowhere near the sea Cambridgeshire. It would take around three and a half hours if we went out on the day before Christmas Eve and came back the day after Boxing Day. I would have to lug child and sack of presents (they can all have gift tokens…) from London Bridge station onto the joy of the Northern Line up to platform nine and three-quarters at Kings Cross. I manage to cut the cost a little by selecting two separate return journeys – from Sussex to London and back and from London to Cambridgeshire and back – which brings it down to £72. Add on £5 return tube fare for me on my Oyster card (children don’t pay on the tube) and that’s a saving of a whole £1.30. There doesn’t seem to be any buy-in-advance discounts thanks of course to the festive exodus.
So how much will it cost me by car? I have an elderly but large Japanese car which runs on diesel – bang goes any eco-credentials there. I try several comparison sites – the easiest I find is the Go Compare which, based on diesel at 114p a litre, says my trip will cost £44.37 return. The RAC route planner says the journey is 125 miles each way and should take around two and a half hours. But there’s the Dartford Tunnel to pay for too - £2.50 each way, bringing the cost to £49.37. And there’s wear and tear on the car, oil, etc too. It still wins easily enough over the train.
I do, in the interests of fairness – and cheapskaterly-ness – try to do a comparison on coach travel. But the nearest I can get us to our Christmas destination is nearly 10 miles away. And I can’t work out how to do a journey via London, but only as four separate journeys. Frankly though, I am always sick on coaches so I’m not really trying very hard to make it work. So anyway, it will be another gas-guzzling journey for us at Christmas. As Kermit said it’s not easy being green – too right, mate.