Using the BritRail Pass
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
When planning a trip around the United Kingdom, my family didn't know exactly what to do about transportation. We didn't want to rent a car because... let's be honest, driving on the other side of the road would just be very scary and confusing. The only other option that didn't cost a fortune was to take the train. Luckily, we were able to purchase the BritRail Pass since we don't live in the UK.
The process of purchasing the BritRail Pass was pretty easy. There are so many options for the BritRail pass. First, there are several providers you can decide from. You can decide the area of the UK; for example, they have a pass that allows you to take the train anywhere in the UK, one that is only used for train travel from London, and so many more options! You also choose the number of days you want it for and if you want the days to be consecutive or not. You'll receive the passes in the mail and you will have to validate them at a train station in the UK.
The first time we tried to use the passes was in London. We wanted to travel from London to Warwick, but we found out that we would have to take the Underground to a different station, change trains, and take the Tube again to another station. Unfortunately, you can't use the BritRail pass for the Tube (which we already knew), so we had to buy those tickets. Well... things didn't go as planned. We were at Victoria Station during rush hour and we were each rolling a suitcase. As we were walking up to the platform for our train, my mom and brother hopped on and my dad and I got stuck behind. I was able to squeeze in as the doors were closing on me. My dad, however, was left behind.
Eventually we made it to the correct train station where we would be able to use our BritRail passes. We didn't find out which platform our train would be at until five minutes before, so when they announced the platform, we ran over to an employee who was supposed to let us through the turnstiles. We showed her our passes and she said we had to fill out some train information. Unaware of that, we started getting frustrated (and somewhat confused because no one explained that to us). Eventually, the employee let us through and we were able to catch our train. We found out that we had to fill out the date on each day we took the train. Honestly, we just left that up to the employees who checked our tickets on the train. Sometimes they fill it out and sometimes they don't. A few of them made us fill it out on the train.
Once we got the hang of train travel, it was easy! We ended up taking the train from London to Warwick. We also went from Warwick to Birmingham, Birmingham to Chesterfield, Chesterfield to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to North Berwick (roundtrip) twice, and Edinburgh to Stirling (roundtrip). We reserved seats on one (in order to reserve seats for free you must reserve at the station, online you have to pay a fee) and even took a few last minute trains.
If you're not from the UK and want to take several trains around England and/or Scotland and Wales, I highly recommend buying the BritRail Pass. If we wouldn't have bought the pass, we would have payed almost triple for tickets. We were also able to use the National Railway app to see when trains would be arriving and departing. It was verrrrry convenient, especially for the last minute and late night trains. The passes gave us the freedom to travel whenever we wanted!