After spending my year abroad in Italy last year, all of my European friends made the assumption that England was expensive to travel to. On the face of it you could say that they are right, the Sterling is a strong currency and one that is costly to exchange into. But, with these simple tips you’ll be able to save money and make the most out of your holiday. So let’s start off with the capital – London.
One of my first tips for anyone looking to travel to London is to book ahead. The prime time to book flights is 6 weeks before you go (or so I’ve heard) and afternoon bookings are cheaper opposed to evenings. Also, don’t write off the low cost airlines. I am a ‘lover,’ of Ryanair. Ryanair offers low price flights that make travelling abroad affordable on a budget. My longest Ryanair flight was four hours, if I can do it then so can you!
Flight booked, transfers they are pesky. Avoid taxis and especially taxi ranks they are extortionate in the UK, if you do need a taxi be sure to Google taxi firms numbers, they offer much cheaper rates. Use websites like the trainline.com and national express (a coach service) to organise transport between locations. Again booking in advance saves both money and stress on the day. But, be sure to give yourself enough time to get from the airport to your desired transport method. For example, if you’re arriving in London Stansted then give yourself at least two hours (no one wants to repay!), and I’d much rather wait in the airport for a bit then have to repay for my transport costs.
If you have traveled to London via train then you’re in luck. London (among other top UK cities offers 2 for 1 on top attractions if you have traveled via train – it cuts down on congestion). Once in central London, avoid using daily transport at all costs. It’s expensive and unnecessary, get some trainers and walk from attraction to attraction. Space out journeys so you’re not walking for hours without seeing anything, but don’t worry the London skyline will captivate your gaze at any rate.
Night buses, London is slowly becoming New York, a city that never sleeps! Night buses around London are cheaper than a taxi if you’re staying out later, just be sure to check times and schedules and always travel in groups late at night, especially in a foreign city!
Venturing to London in the summer, then head to the supermarket and grab some bits or a £3 meal deal (sandwich, snack and drink included in the price). Another alternative, the markets – Borough market, Southbank, Covent Garden and Portobello market to name a few offer great bites to eat that’ll tantalize taste buds. Bottled water is cheap to buy at supermarkets, there are limited public fountains available to fill up water bottles and remember if you do dine out tap water is completely free. Stuck for lunch ideas when it’s a bit cold to have a picnic, look out for chains like Greggs, Subway and other independent coffee shops (these aren’t the healthiest of options, but they will keep costs down).
However, just remember that this is a holiday and you are entitled to treat yourself – check out Groupon and Voucher codes for superb restaurants at great prices. We went to the fabulous The Life Godess on Regent’s street for 60% of the price.
In the past few years, I’ve trekked around several European cities and have been utterly shocked at the price to visit both the museums and art galleries alike. Here is where the UK is simply brilliant in my opinion, the majority of museums and art galleries are free to enter! Here’s a list of my personal favourites: The British museum, the natural History museum, the science museum, the Victoria and Albert museum, the national gallery, the Tate, the national portrait gallery. Not all the sights are free of course, but what you save on these you can spend on others. Remember if you’re a student discounted entry is a must to get your hands.
Normally, when I visit London, I stay with relatives – my great aunt is the hostess with the mostess and I love seeing the Family. But, on this occasion we stayed in a hotel. My boyfriend’s flight landed relatively late (midnight), so we decided to stay at a hotel in the airport, of course you can always sleep in the airport. But when hotels like the Premier Inn are charging £50 a night for two people who can say no (and remember chains like this often charge by room – so if there’s four of you the price is even cheaper. On our second night we stayed in the Union Jack Club in Waterloo. This is a great hotel for both servicemen and ex-servicemen, and if you’re not one like me, I booked using my grandfather’s account (which they are fine with). My grandad regularly goes to the hotel for events and functions and is a great hotel for the fraction of the price.
If you don’t have the luxury of this option then hostels are a great alternative. Hostels if you’re young or willing offer great alternatives for travellers who are feeling the pinch. Airbnb is also great for families who want space and comfort (my Airbnb experiences haven’t been that great, but I know many peoples who have). Also, factor in the cost of your hotel and tube fare, is the £20 you save per night to stay in Zone 4/5 worth the tube fare in?
I hope you found the above tips helpful to cut costs down on city breaks like that of London which are notoriously expensive. Feel free to comment if you have any questions or queries!
Ciao for now,