A day out to Littlehampton with a Family & Friends Railcard

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Like most people, I’ve blithely strolled past whenever I’ve seen leaflets or posters in rail stations for the Family & Friends Railcard. With family all over the UK I simply assumed we were seasoned enough travellers to know when it was best to fly, drive or catch a train.

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L-R: Helen, JoJo Bow, me and Izzy on Littlehampton beach with train tickets and Family & Friends Railcard. Getting everyone to look in the same direction was a challenge, especially the JoJo Bow.

I’ll be honest, I was also put-off by the £30 it costs for a railcard. Well my friends, I’ve just discovered this was a false economy.

National Rail set me a challenge. Using a family & Friends Railcard, I was tasked with booking tickets and taking the family out for the day.

The railcard offers savings of a third on adult fares and up to 60% on kids’ fares. Considering how expensive rail fares can be, it was an enticing proposition and I didn’t have to think all that hard before accepting.

Mrs Adams and I discussed where to go. We initially thought about going to Brighton but instead thought we’d go crazy and visit Littlehampton in West Sussex.

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Here’s Izzy! My youngest daughter peers through the seats on our journey to Littlehampton.

Why Littlehampton? Simply because it’s there. There’s that and the fact it has a sandy beach, something the kids wanted to play on.

The first thing we did when arriving at Littlehampton was to follow a well signposted riverside walk that led to the beach. Once there, Helen, Izzy and I held a drawing competition in the sand.

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Helen’s prize winning Kawaii cat, drawn in the sand on Littlehampton beach.

Rather predictably, my three-eyed cat didn’t win. The prize went to Helen who drew a Kawaii cat with Izzy coming a very close second. As for my drawing, Izzy was so appalled by my creation she rubbed it out, so I have no photos of it.

We then got a bite to eat and visited the Look and Sea! Centre where we learned all about Littlehampton’s history. I was particularly taken by the smuggling tales. It seems Littlehampton was a hotbed of illicit activity in years gone by.

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The view from the top of the Littlehampton Look and Sea! Centre.

We had a fun time and Helen and Izzy enjoyed the train journey. The highlight of the journey was when a pigeon made it on board and my girls managed to coax it off at the next station.

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The girls were very lively on the way home. Here’s a rare moment when they sat still for a brief second!

Having told you all about the journey, I’d better give you some information about the Family & Friends Railcard we used. here’s what you need to know.

Ordering the Family & Friends Railcard

This was done online. It was very straightforward, taking no more than a few minutes.

Once registered I was informed it might take about 10 days for the card to arrive but it was safely delivered just two days later.

Booking the tickets

I did this from a machine in the rail station about four minutes before our train was due. Nothing like being last minute, hey?

When booking this way, look out for a key asking if you have any railcards. Our tickets, for two adults and one child over the age of five, cost £40.40. I looked on the Trainline website when we got home to do a comparison and the quoted price was £62 for catching identical trains the next day with the same passengers. Put very simply, we only have to do one further rail journey as a family and we’ll have more than made our money back on the railcard.

It’s worth noting that our youngest daughter, Izzy, isn’t yet five (her birthday is just a few days away). As soon as she hits the big zero-five, we’ll have to start buying rail tickets for her and the Family & Friends Railcard will be even more useful.

When can you use the Family & Friends Railcard?

I’m not going to give you all the terms and conditions. These are available online (see link below).

In brief, however, up to four adults and four children aged five to 15 can travel on every journey. Two adults can be named on the card but only one of them has to be present on each journey.

Further information

You can get further information about the Family & Friends Railcard online via its dedicated website. You may also want to take a look at the #MakeTracks hashtag on social media to see how other families have been making use of their railcards.

Will we make use of the railcard again?

I can answer that in a word: Absolutely. The savings are significant and it takes me back to my days as a student when I had a Young Person’s Railcard and undertook a huge number of rail journeys.

We’ve always wondered about taking the train up to Scotland to see Mrs Adam’s family. Instead we’ve always driven or flown because of the cost but with a Family & Friends Railcard, it would be much more affordable to travel by train.

For this family it’s made medium to long-distance rail travel affordable. I now regret not paying more attention to those posters and leaflets that I walked past for all those years. If you decide to buy one, I hope you enjoy your travels!


Disclosure: This commissioned post was produced in association with National Rail.

10 thoughts on “A day out to Littlehampton with a Family & Friends Railcard”

  1. Oh yes, I feel the same about the railcard. Should have bought it ages ago! Looks like a fun day out, we live a long way from the beach so it’s always our first choice when we can go too. I can’t believe you didn’t take a photo of the pigeon, call yourself a blogger?? 😉

    1. Unfortunately the pigeon incident happened while I was taking the kids to the loo so I didn’t have a camera or phone with me. If I had done, I’d have taken a picture I’m sure! Now we have a Railcard, I think we’ll always have a railcard.

  2. Each time we’ve had a railcard it has paid for itself within the first journey or two. What I love about the Family & Friends Railcard is that it works for larger families too!

    1. Ah, so you are a seasoned Friends & Family Railcard holder? Good to hear from someone who has lots of experience using one. You are quite right, it does work well for larger families and that’s a great bonus.

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