Whilst putting together the directions information for some new walks recently, it occurred to me how utterly bamboozling the British transport system can be at times.
So many of us are experts at public transport on our own patch but further afield can require cunning and research to make it there, particularly when working out logistics of travelling with children and pushchairs!
Here is a list of essential websites for travelling in the UK -whether by car, bike, train, bus or foot, or indeed all manner of other options. Hopefully these will make planning that next journey a little bit easier.
- Transport Direct – if you only use one website, it should be this one. With everything from trains, buses and car routes, Transport Direct also offers information on domestic air travel, car routes, cycle networks and park and ride facilities. Plan your whole journey from one site.
- Traveline – an absolutely invaluable website for finding out your best combined travel options from A to B. You can select which forms of transport you want to include, alter the total walking time involved and plan by postcode. They also do iPhone apps.
- Visit Britain has a comprehensive travel section with useful information on getting about the UK.
- Visit Scotland provides useful information on both travelling to and around Scotland by various means of transport.
- National Rail Enquiries is the main port of call for all UK train timetables and information. Depending on which train company you will be travelling with, it is worth checking out their individual websites but for general information to work out your route and timetable options, station facility and accessibility information or information on ticket types, this is the best place to start. You cannot buy tickets directly from National Rail Enquiries but it will send you through to a choice of ticket merchandisers such as thetrainline after you have selected your journey details.
There are a myriad of bus companies across the UK and in general it is easiest to use Transport Direct and Traveline to find relevant services for your journey.
- NextBuses is a mobile website from Traveline which shows you your closest bus stop and services from it by simply inputting your current address or postcode. If you use the mobile app version it will use your current GPS location.
- National Express run long distance coach trips throughout the UK, including linking major cities to main UK airports.
- Megabus run budget coach services across the UK and beyond and offer great value for overnight services between London and Scotland and other long distance routes.
- easyBus offers low cost coach transfers between London and Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports.
- Scottish Citylink is the main coach company in Scotland offering routes between the major Scottish towns and destinations.
- Highways Agency – up-to-date traffic information for England’s roads and motorways. Allows you to filter results by road and disruption level and also to view planned road closures and maintenance work.
- Traffic Scotland – The equivelent of the Highways Agency site for Scotland’s roads and Motorways.
- Traffic Wales – The Highways agency equivelent for roads and motorways in Wales.
- AA and the RAC– Two very useful websites from the UK’s largest motoring organisations offering traffic news across the UK as well as a useful route planner with indications of journey times in current traffic conditions and filter options for avoiding motorways or toll roads. Both also offer roadside breakdown assistance and recovery.
- Car Pooling is one of the largest shared car services operating in the UK and offers a greener alternative to driving your own vehicle. Great as an alternative to regular car hire.
- There are a huge number of car hire companies operating in the UK. Use travel comparison sites such as the Travel Supermarket or Compare Car Hire websites. It’s worth checking a few different comparison sites to check you are getting the best deal.
- UK Airport News has a handy links table to the main UK airports’ live arrival and departure boards.
- Civil Aviation Authority offers comprehensive information on rules and regulations for passengers flying from the UK as well as their rights and information on what to do if your flight is cancelled or excessively delayed.
- Flight Mapping is a really handy website for planning domestic flights and seeing at a glance which routes are on offer and who operates them. It also offers this information for international routes too.
- With such a huge number of aviation companies operating to and from the UK, if you don’t already know the airline operating on your route, it may be best to use travel comparison sites such as Expedia, Sky Scanner or Opodo to find airlines and fare options.
There are a large number of ferry companies within the UK operating both domestically and to European and Scandinavian destinations and non-commercial websites listing all operators and routes are few and far between. If you aren’t sure which company operates the route you are looking for it may be best to use a travel broker such as aferry.co.uk or directferries.co.uk to at least identify which ferry companies operate.
- Sustrans – Sustrans is a charity supporting sustainable, clean and cheap forms of transport in the UK. This page of their website provides a map of cycle routes in the UK, including a search function.
- Cycle Route – this is a handy website if you are looking for ideas for leisure cycle routes. Search by county
- Cycle Streets is currently in Beta only but still contains useful information for planning a cycle route between two postcodes or addresses. Worth a look.
- Walkit is a great website for finding walking distances and estimated journey times by foot in the UK’s major cities.
- Transport for London – essential for public transport travel information in London. Timetables and route planning for London buses, underground, river ferry, DLR, taxis & more. Has a handy Journey Planner which allows you to search for step free routes – great if travelling with a pushchair!
- Visit London is another great site for planning visits to and around the capital.
- tweetalondoncab.com is a handy way to book a London taxi using Twitter.
- Walkit is a handy tool for planning walking times within London and working out when walking may be quicker than taking the bus or tube.
- TfL also have a useful page covering the Congestion Charges applying to drivers in London and the fines applicable if payment is not made in time.