From time to time, I get really stumped and confused about how to find the cheapest train tickets. Because different tracks are maanged by different companies, you have to do your homework to work out which way is best. The first time is always the hardest.
My scenario: I needed to go into London to get a few things done, and also get a ticket to go to Gatwick Airport for later that day. I was looking for a Travelcard option that would cover both. Also I needed a ticket for my son to go to Gatwick Airport later that day, with return options included.
I was quoted $30.90 pounds, which sounded to me quite high. I took the information and left. I went home to try to work out what the trains covered, and spent several hours on the internet doing this. Fortunately, a friend had sent me another link to a website called http://www.thetrainline.com which was much more user-friendly and seemed to integrate the options better. It also spat out the price quite quickly and allowed me to compare the various options.
In the end, I worked out that because I had purchased the Family and Friends Railway card (remember my trip to Portsmouth?) that I could actually use this to buy my tickets, and that it would cost less than the guy at the train station quoted me. A Gatwick return would cost me $17.50 pounds, instead of $30.90 pounds. (Thank goodness I took a moment to step away. ) After everything, I think I will take this cheaper option and use my Oyster card for my day trip into London. Sometimes, it is easiest to keep things simple, and train tickets are one of them.