I'm curious to hear how others based in the Midlands and North travel to London for personal trips, what their preference is and any tips that we may be missing.
For many years we've made the trip from Sheffield to London in or around the first week in December. Up until the last 2 years we've always taken the train, now we drive due to cost and flexibility.
In Dec 2018 we booked advance return first class tickets for the two of us at a cost of £110. In Dec 2019 there was ongoing rail maintenance, prices were high and availability limited so we drove. In Dec 2020 the only issue was a price hike so we drove. For this December we'll be driving again. A standard advance return for both is £168, first class is £377, and that's catching it just as those fares are released. That's quite a jump in 3 years, standard pricing has jumped significantly and the cheap first class upgrade deals don't seem to be there anymore. It's not a great incentive to use public transport.
Driving isn't particularly enjoyable and we have had one leg of one journey disrupted. It takes a little longer but we don't have to factor taxis and the cost/time at Sheffield station. The plus points are the cost, fuel is around £50 and parking is £40 (3 days). We save around £85 all-in and we have flexibility to depart and leave when we like. Plus we are able to transport any larger purchases far more easily which pleases my partner. We're a 10/15 min walk from our parking to the hotel which isn't bad at all.