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A group of friends and I plan to attend to the ArcTangent festival, which will take place in Bristol, UK on August 28–30 this year.

We"ll travel from Belgium to London (St. Pancras) via Eurostar. The matter is the journey from there to Bristol, and the journey back to London four days later. We first thought of going there by train, but it looks costly and quite unpractical, since we still need to go from the station to the festival on arrival, plus the trains' schedules are not very flexible.

So we are thinking of renting a small car there. As we will be four to five to pay for a four days' renting, it will cost more or less the same as train, with all the advantages of having a car – I found cars circa 140£ on the internet. Problem is no one in our group is older than 20, so I am worried about age restrictions or additional costs, e.g. for insurance.

Also if I remember correctly, there's tolls entering or exiting London; is there any way to avoid these?

Beyond these two concerns, any general advice about renting a car in London would be greatly appreciated, as it is the first time we do that, and we don't know exactly how this works. As young students we are looking for the cheapest solution, so if you have any tips or places for low prices, please share. Also if you think of a better alternative to car renting, we are naturally open to anything. Thanks.

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Have you taken into account proper insurance, parking fee and fuel? –  RvdK May 15 at 14:40

1 Answer 1

First up, driving in London isn't really for the faint-hearted. Especially not for people quite new to driving, who've only ever driven on the other side of the road!

So, if you really do want to drive, I'd suggest when you get to London you hop on the Piccadilly Line out to Heathrow Airport, and pick up a car there. Heathrow is right by the M4 motorway, which you'll want to take to get to Bristol, so it's handy for you. You'll avoid having to drive in London, avoid problems with congestion charges, avoid problems with traffic etc. May even be slightly cheaper!

As for the train, from London to Bristol Parkway (probably the station you'd want for getting to somewhere near Bristol), it's £31.50 one way for a super-offpeak single, valid at quiet times of the day, but on any train you want at those times, or £55 for a super-offpeak return. First Great Western also offer Group-Save tickets, which are basically 2-for-the-price-of-1 at off-peak times. So, assuming there were 4 of you travelling at a quiet time in the day, it'd be £110 for 4 returns, or £27.50 each for the return. That looks quite favourable to your hire car costs, and you wouldn't have to pay for petrol.

(There are also Advanced Purchase tickets, which are only valid on one specific train, no flexibility. Between London and Bristol these start at £15 each way, rising to about £22 each way, when they're all sold they're all sold. Given the cost of a super-offpeak ticket valid on any train when bought as a group, I'd suggest you avoid those and just get a flexible group ticket)

Most festivals offer cheap/free transport from the nearest major station, so you can hopefully sort something out to get from the station to the festival.

As for the young driver bit, some companies will offer it for a very large extra premium, some won't offer it at all, and some will offer it but only if you ring up. Hertz offer it at most locations, for an example, their FAQ on it provides details of how to get the website to quote you for the extra premium too. Hertz look to charge about £31/day surcharge. That alternately gets a fair amount of local bus tickets!

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I would also add the horrors of lane-driving to your first paragraph. Sometimes you have to guess the right lane to be in, and if you don't know the way it easily gets overwhelming. –  JoErNanO Nov 3 at 15:42

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