Day Trip to London from Aylesford

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DeeGee

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I'm thinking about taking my boy (6) on a daytrip to London at May half term, ostensibly to go to the Science Museum and maybe the London Eye. We'd like to have a decent amount of time in the morning, as he's a morning person and begins to flag after lunch. Therefore it looks like I can get the 0910 from AYL, which appears to be OK for an Off-Peak return.

Ideally, I'd like to take HS1 from Strood into St Pancras, then use Underground to Bankside and Kensington.

We have family and Friends Railcard.

I've found a total fare of £20.60 for an Anytime Return AYL-STP, and I figured I'd just use Oyster PAYG. As I understand it, the boy travels free on the Underground and buses if he's with me and I'm paying.

National Rail also shows me a fare described as "Anytime" and "Plus Highspeed" for the same service for £36.40. This is considerably cheaper than the Anytime fare for the service before - so I don't really understand what it is.

What I'm wondering is:
Realistically, is it cheaper for me to get a Day Travelcard, and for the boy to get a return to STP, travelling for free with me on TfL? Is that even permitted?

How do the ticket gates work in such an instance? I touch in (if contactless) or put my ticket in, can we both go through the gate together? Or are we required to use the manned gate?

What is the difference between the £36.40 Anytime and the £64.20 Anytime? If I could get on an earlier train for less than £40 then I'd be up for that.

Am I restricted on the return if I get the Off-Peak? We'd like to leave when the boy's fractious, rather than having to wait until late. Or are the passenger loadings likely to preclude such a thing during the afternoon peak? I have 'fond' memories of standing all the way to Tunbridge Wells in Connex days! I wouldn't want to put the boy off train travel because of that.
 
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talldave

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F&F Travelcards for you both would £23.85, would that be cheaper than your proposed return with PAYG option?

There are no off-peak return restrictions.
 

MikeWh

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National Rail also shows me a fare described as "Anytime" and "Plus Highspeed" for the same service for £36.40. This is considerably cheaper than the Anytime fare for the service before - so I don't really understand what it is.

What is the difference between the £36.40 Anytime and the £64.20 Anytime? If I could get on an earlier train for less than £40 then I'd be up for that.
The family and friends railcard isn't valid before off-peak day return tickets are available in the old NSE area, so the higher fare is the undiscounted one.
FAMILY & FRIENDS RAILCARD
Available for at least one adult and one child travelling together. The discount is also available for up to three other adults and three other children. All children must have been aged 15 or under at the time the railcard was purchased.
Not valid in the morning peak for journeys wholly within the former British Rail Network SouthEast area, until the Off-Peak Day Return fare for the relevant journey becomes available.
 

DeeGee

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The family and friends railcard isn't valid before off-peak day return tickets are available in the old NSE area, so the higher fare is the undiscounted one.

Got you. But there's no restriction on the return, right? So I don't need Anytime tickets?

I can settle for the 9:10.

Now, what's the loading likely to be like at 5pm ish from St Pancakes? Chances are I'll be long gone from then, but I remember what commuting was like. Will it be unbearable for a dad and a 6 year old?
 
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