Carers are almost always busy! For those of us in the big smoke, travel can be a pretty big challenge, needing to:

  • Flit between placements or shifts.
  • Travel to different care facilities or resident’s homes.
  • Beat the rush hour to relax on the journey home.
  • Travel across the city to get to your subsequent home care placement.

The best way to make sure travelling around London is affordable, quick, and stress-free is to do your research. Only kidding – we’ve done it for you!

OUTT.com provides outstanding social care workers with placements all over greater London and across many support roles and positions.

We recognise that travelling in the city can be a nightmare, so we have compared all available options to recommend the most affordable alternatives.

The Benefit of Oyster Cards for London Carers

First up, we’d suggest getting an Oyster card. They are cheaper than buying any day tickets for public transport and lower cost than using a debit or credit card for contactless payments.

Oyster cards work on the tube, overground and mainline rail, so they are well worth having if your plans change and you need to get somewhere quickly.

Our tip is to register your card online. Once you’ve done so, you can:

  • Then, top it up on your mobile.
  • Apply discounts to your rail fare.
  • Claim back the balance if you lose the card.

You can use a regular card, and all the entry and exit gates throughout the tube have contactless barriers. However, while the everyday prices are pretty similar, you’ll need an Oyster card to buy longer-term travel cards.

The great thing about using this option if you’re a social care worker travelling around the city is that you get a fare cap – so no matter how many journeys or tubes you need to take, you won’t keep accumulating costs!

Caps are:

  • Calculated from 4.30 am to 4.29 the next night (ideal for night shift workers!).
  • Limited to £7.20 a day maximum for fares throughout zones one and two.

You can buy season tickets, get emails about any route closures, and also track your journeys. This service is excellent if you need to claim for travel expenses, as you can see which trips you took, from and to where, and on which date!

Using the London Underground to Travel Between Care Placements

Oyster cards work throughout the TfL transport system, but let’s take a closer look at the tube. The first thing you’ll need to know is which tube station is nearest to your destination and what zone it is in.

It might be cheaper to get a bus (more on that shortly!), but if all of your placements are in the same zone, your tube fares might be a lot lower.

You can check the zone map on the TfL website, and it’s also a great way to work out which station is closest or if there is a tube stop near enough to make it a viable option!

There are caps for daily travel, off-peak travel and weekly limits – for example, zones 1-6 are limited to £13.50 per day. You can check the exact rates online.

Tubes tend to be scheduled for every three minutes, although registering an Oyster card is invaluable if there are line closures and you need to plot an alternative route.

Most stations are open from 5 am until 1 am the following morning – and it’s wise to check with TfL if you do leave in the early hours as some stations will be open for a Night Tube service, but they aren’t universal.

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Travelling by Bus as a Social Carer in London

Next, we’ll look at the bus networks. Buses might seem a little slower than the tube, but they can be a lifesaver if you’re travelling somewhere without a nearby tube station.

The big challenge with using the buses is the traffic (enough said).

However, there are plenty of bus routes, so it’s generally a much faster way to travel than by car, and cheaper than taking a taxi.

Always check the bus routes and the correct number before hopping on a London bus. You can pay with your Oyster, and there are lots of different fares:

  • Pay as you go tickets cost £1.55 per journey.
  • The daily cap is £4.65, and the maximum charge £21.90 per week.

If you receive some benefits in addition to your wages, you can apply for a discounted Oyster photo card. This card gives you 50% discounts on the pay as you go fares and lower caps on all other bus travel.

Using Boris Bikes to Get Between Care Jobs

Another option, mostly reserved for the summer, is to think about using one of Boris bikes.

The distinctive Santander Cycle Docks are available throughout zone one and provide FREE cycle hire for up to 30 minutes.

If there is a dock near you and one near your workplace, and the journey won’t take over half an hour, you can therefore travel for free there and back!

Some smart cyclists switch bikes between docks, making sure they aren’t travelling for more than 29 minutes and can make longer journeys without paying a penny.

Otherwise, the costs are £2 per day and £2 for each half-hour after that. Of course, you must check that the bike has docked properly, so you don’t keep racking up charges.

London offers multiple cycle routes, and you can check where it is safe to cycle through CityMapper or Google Maps.

Walking to Work as a London Carer

Finally, we’d recommend not discounting walking before checking out the route!

We’re so used to jumping on the tube, it can sometimes be a lot quicker to walk it – and completely free of charge.

There are maps on most of the central streets, with Legible London maps erected by TfL.

These tell you which direction you’re facing, which is an excellent advantage if you’re using Google Maps to travel somewhere new and rely on your smartphone compass.

In summary, we’d recommend the following as the cheapest ways to travel around London.

  • Checking the distance to see if it’s walkable.
  • Seeing if there are bike docks close to your journey.
  • Taking a bus if a stop is nearby and you’re travelling outside of rush hour.
  • Registering an Oyster card for tube or train journeys.
  • Verifying whether you’re eligible for any discounts – or comparing the prices of season tickets, which are substantially cheaper than paying day rates.

We hope this guide to travelling around London as a carer is helpful!

To check out available social care shifts and placements near you, and assess the best way to travel between home and work, register at OUTT.com to get started.