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2 for 1 and travel card questions

Hi all, I have read the other posts about this topic (as well as the book itself) but am still slightly confused.

Two of us will be traveling to London in mid-March and would love to take advantage of the 2 for 1 specials through Days Out.

Am I understanding this correctly? There are basically two types of 7 day travel cards. One that is loaded onto an oyster card that would not qualify for the 2 for 1 special and one that is a paper version that would qualify us for the special? Is this correct? If so:

1-Does the paper version cover the same transport system (same tracks, trains, and busses) as the oyster card version?
2-Where would we go to get this specific travel card? Ideally I'd like to have travel for zones 1-3, but I bet we could make 1-2 work if its the only option.
3- Is this the most cost effective plan? We are planning on using transportation every day. From what I understand the cap on the pay as you go oyster card would be a similar cost but would not cover the discount entries. Or Is there a better way to get cheap entries to the big sites without waiting in lines that I am not familiar with?

We will also have private transfer to and from the airport (It was included free in our hotel booking).

I am sorry, I know a lot of people have already asked this question but I'm a bit hopelessly confused still.

Thank you in advance!

Posted by
31 posts

From my understanding the London pass is just a pass to get into a few major sites, but doesn't cover any transportation.

Posted by
19 posts

I hope someone will chime in on the Travel Card & Oyster Card as I am trying to figure out what to purchase also.

Posted by
6 posts

I am no expert by any means, I'm going in a few months myself so forgive me if I get anything wrong. From the research I have done so far, the Paper travel card does cover what the Oyster does. They MUST be purchased at a National Rail station not an Underground station. It looks like you are arriving by the airport. I'm not sure what the closest rail station is. Maybe look close to where you are going to be staying? I'm arriving in King's Cross so I'd be getting set up there, for example. From what I've gathered, most tourists get a zone 1-2 travel card and do pay as you go for other journeys outside of zone 2. Personally, I'm going to try the decoy ticket route since I have an arrival ticket in London. I just feel a bit more comfortable with a regular Oyster card with the travel card loaded onto it.

I think it's a great idea to pursue the 2-4-1! Those attractions add up fast. I believe that there is another line you go into when you have the voucher so you aren't waiting a super long time. If its something like the Tower of London just plan to get there early since it's normally busy. I am so very sorry if I got anything wrong, someone please correct me if I did but I just wanted to lend a hand to a fellow traveller :)

Posted by
38 posts

Hi from Austin TX ;) - correct, you need a paper travelcard - you buy one at train station (not an underground/tube station) - you can find a list of stations here:

https://www.toptiplondon.com/places-to-visit/2-for-1-offers/where-to-buy-paper-travelcard/

You will need to bring passport-sized photos with you, they will make you ID cards at the same time when you buy your travelcards - they don't have to be anything special, photos printed on regular printer paper will do.

Posted by
38 posts

Yes, the paper travelcard is valid for unlimited travel on the tube (you enter it into a slot in the turnstile, it spits it back out in a second or two) and on the buses (show it to the driver - I believe they are valid for travel between any zones when using the bus.)

You will also need a paper voucher for each site - it's probably easiest to print these ahead of time at home.

In the end, it's a few hoops to jump through, but if you're planning on visiting a number of the more expensive sites (Eye, Tower, St Paul's, Westminster Abbey, etc.) you will definitely save some money.

Posted by
21026 posts

Someone mentioned in an earlier thread here that taking advantage of the 2-4-1 offer at the Churchill War Rooms could be very problematic because of the lines at that sight. I don't know that the procedure is the same everywhere, but at the CWR you apparently must go through the ticket line, 2-4-1 voucher in hand, to buy your tickets. (That does make sense. Why would you not have to use the ticket-buying line to buy a ticket?) If not using the 2-4-1 offer, a prudent traveler would buy the CWR tickets ahead of time online, where I believe there's a 10% discount.

I don't know whether there are any other 2-4-1 sights where the choice comes down to saving quite a lot of money with the 2-4-1 offer or saving quite a lot of time by buying tickets ahead of time online at either full price or perhaps a slight online discount. Perhaps arriving somewhat before opening time with the 2-4-1 voucher would be a reasonable compromise.

Posted by
38 posts

IME, yes, you have to wait in line to buy tickets along with everyone else - essentially, it's presenting the (paper) voucher that gets you the (50%) discount (I'd say that at about half the sites we visited, the cashiers didn't even check if we had valid Travelcards or not...)

It will be up to each traveler to decide whether it's worth it - we've done the 2-4-1 thing at a number of sites on a couple of trips (though not the Churchill War Rooms), never had to wait more than 15 mins or so, and saved enough to pay for, say, a few nice meals out overall - YMMV.

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you so much for the input and advice! It is invaluable!

Just as a quick question- when were you guys all in London? I read that some things have changed since 2017 and want to make sure that the paper passes aren't one of them!

Thank you again

Posted by
31 posts

Perfect, thank you so much neighbor! :)

Posted by
21026 posts

I thought there was a blank voucher available online that one could print out and fill in at leisure. Perhaps I am misremembering. What I see now on the Days Out Guide website is that one selects the attraction of interest and specifies the number of people, the date, and the rail station (though it sounds as if your choice there doesn't really matter). The date is a problem for me, sitting at my computer 3 weeks before I head to Europe but more than 4 months before I will hit London. I see no reason why I should have to pick a date before printing out the voucher since I'm going to have to stand in line and buy one ticket in person, anyway.

Old information found online says there are printed brochures at rail stations that include some blank vouchers, but I don't know whether those still exist.

Update: OK, I just did a test-print of a voucher for a site up in Scotland (same website). I'm no longer annoyed! The date I entered doesn't appear anywhere on the voucher. Perhaps they ask for a date so you'll see the calendar that indicates the validity period for each site. For example, Hampton Court currently has offers available only for March and some days in April.

Update #2: Well, I'm not so sure now. The date I entered is embedded in the Voucher ID shown on the document, so who knows?

What is on the voucher are the limited times the voucher can be used (no Fri-Sun afternoons for the site I tested). So take a look at that information on the screen before you print the voucher, to be sure you can make the timing work.

Update #3: I've just looked at 10-12 potentially interesting sites in London, and none of them show availability dates beyond the end of April. Clearly, the information just hasn't been loaded yet. It's too early for late-spring and summer travelers to make plans.

I'd recommend not doing this too far in advance, because offers and restrictions can change.

Posted by
13042 posts

Most of the London attractions on the Days Out website have dates through April 30. Those that continue their offers into summer will update that later, perhaps right before May 1. The voucher booklets available at the train stations (sometimes) should be replenished with ones for May 1 onward at some point as well.

But I noticed that some sites outside of London, such as Bletchley Park, show availability through all of 2019. So I already printed out our voucher for that one.