I’m looking for travel recommendations for two adults and two 16 year olds going from Glasgow to Oxford in early August. I’ve driven in the UK before so am open to it. I know trains may get be the easiest. Price is a key factor, but so is time. Thank you.
Go to the NationalRail website to explore schedules and ticket costs. August tickets aren't on-sale yet, which is good news for you because it means you can monitor the situation and jump right on low-cost tickets as soon as they go on sale. Currently you can only see schedules and prices through late May. Check the latest available date on the same day of the week you plan to travel. That schedule should be close to what you'll ultimately find available for August.
I suspect, though I am not sure, this is one of the UK routes for which you need to buy your ticket in two separate pieces in order to get Advance tickets. When I search on your entire route, I don't see any Advance fares. One of our UK rail experts will need to verify my suspicion. For now, try pricing out Glasgow-Wolverhampton plus Wolverhampton-Oxford.
[See James's post immediately below: This information seems to be incorrect--You need to be careful when you split tickets like that; it's like having back-to-back flights that aren't on the same ticket. If something goes wrong on the first train and you miss the second one, you'll probably have to buy a new ticket at the walk-up fare. [End of incorrect information.] The savings from Advance tickets can be huge, however.
Go to ViaMichelin.com to get an estimated driving time. It will include no stops.
The train is faster in this case and affords an opportunity for everyone to eat a packed lunch on the way.
Go by train. You may well find that split ticketing will save big bucks on this route. In reality, you can get one train from Glasgow to Birmingham and then change for one to Oxford. www.nationalrail.co.uk will tell you. A split at Birmingham is most likely to reduce the price verses a through ticket. This site will tell you where to split the ticket:>https://new.trainsplit.com
The cheapest ‘advance’ tickets are released around 11 weeks ahead so play around with the system to get an idea of what you would pay when these cheaper tickets are released for your date. When you make the real booking, you might wish to use www.virgintrains.co.uk as that is the company you will be with for most of the trip. If making more trips, you might wish to consider a Friends & Family Railcard. You can’ t get this from abroad - only when you arrive - but you can make the advance booking as if you already have it.https://www.familyandfriends-railcard.co.uk
The advice given by a craven (above) is not accurate. In the event of an earlier train being late - causing a missed connection - you will not be charged for a new ticket for a later part of the journey as the train operator is obligated to carry you on the next service at no penalty. This applies even if it is a different company - though you should make sure that you keep proof of purchase of the earlier ticket leg to show the later trains’ conductor. So, DO NOT insert such a ticket into a barrier control as it will disappear - see a member of staff and say you need to retain the ticket. ‘Splits’ on some journeys do not even need to change train. So, you could find yourself on a train from Glasgow to Birmingham and you purchase separate tickets with a split at a mid point stopping place - such as Preston - yet stay on the same train. Bonkers but true!
Depending on the time available I would drive. There are so many things to see on the road from Glasgow to Oxford that I'm sure the 16 year olds will remember the rest of their lives. Or will it be stopping and starting and hauling luggage from here to there at the Station. Of course in August a lot of the "Popular" places may be busy with tourists and the places to stay harder to find. But again a car lets you drive on to that small village where you can stay in a Pub or a Farmhouse. But if you don't have time the train may be quicker. I think a car may be cheaper than the cost of 4 people on a train unless you can get student discounts, etc. Bon Voyage.
Thanks for the correction, James. I've updated my post.