I'm very excited to introduce Jess, who is a fellow travel addict, to guest post for me on budgeting your time in London! She has a blog entitled 'Tripelio' that I highly recommend you check out!
I would like to thank Kalee for publishing this article. Her site is a great place for anybody interested in studying abroad. After reading this article, I recommend you check out her post answering some of the main questions people have about studying overseas!
London is notoriously expensive, for travelers and locals alike. However, you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy a trip to this world-famous destination. Although it’s true that many places are expensive, with the right pre-planning and a bit of insiders information, it’s possible to enjoy this city getaway no matter how much money you have to spend. By considering the five basic expense categories that any trip entails and identifying how you can mold them to your budget, you can still have the time of your life in this exciting and vibrant capital.
The one financial bright side of visiting London, contrary to all other expenses, is that you’re guaranteed cheap airfare. The flights to all of London’s many airports are by far some of the cheapest in the country, no matter where you’re flying in from. Whether you’re aiming for as low as possible with services such as Ryanair, Easyjet (from Europe), Norwegian or WOW (from America) or you’re looking ride in style with Virgin Atlantic or Emirates, as one of the biggest transport hubs in Europe you’re sure to find great deals on your tickets.
Flights usually take one of the biggest chunks of money out of your budget and have to be paid beforehand, so it’s always a good place to start when trying to work out your finances for a trip.
There not really any way to get around the fact that, when staying in London, your accommodation is going to be pricier than you can find it elsewhere; however, if you are looking to keep your budget as low as possible, there are some options available to you. Joining the YHA (Youth Hostel Association) can give you great discounts, and there are several of these hostels available in this big city that will set you back about $30 a night if you’re looking to stay central or $20 if you’re willing to stay a bit further out.
Alternatively you can try Airbnb, where you can get rooms or even whole apartments from $11-$1,100 depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re aiming to go as cheap as possible, couchsurfing.com offers you the opportunity to stay in people’s houses completely free! Both of these options are a great way to get to know locals and have a more intimate experience of London. For those with more cash to spend, London boasts some of the most fancy hotels in the world, including the Ritz, the Savoy or the Intercontinental Park Lane.
London is famed for its Red Buses and Tube system and for good reason. Traveling around London by car, especially at peak times, can be a nightmare. Particularly in Central London, the congestion is notoriously bad, and it’s regularly quicker and easier to use public transport. London’s Underground Tube system offers Oyster Cards which, once purchased, allows you to travel all day long for £8.60 - £9.40 depending on which zone you travel in or just charges you per journey if you travel infrequently. These cards can also be used on buses.
Although using the underground is a vital activity for those new to the city, once the novelty has worn off, if you want to save on money, it’s usually cheaper to travel by bus. However, unfortunately this saving will normally add on a substantial amount of time to your journey. For those looking to avoid the crowds, there is also an over ground train service that costs notably more, but allows for much shorter travel time and a lot less noise and overcrowding.
Things To Do
London has a plethora of world famous tourist attractions, which drastically range in price. therefore, it's usually wise to pick activities to compliment your budget - or at least check prices beforehand so you know what you're going to have to save up for! Some of the main points of interest that you can visit for free include wandering across Tower Bridge, watching the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace or relaxing in Hyde Park. You can also check out the Natural History Museum with no admission costs - although sometimes there are charges for specialist exhibitions—or go for a walk around Kensington Gardens, an area and park made famous by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan novel, and find the statue of the book’s main character.
For those willing to splurge a bit more to see the classic British landmarks, the entrance fee to the Tower of London is £23 ($33) and taking a spin on the London Eye will set you back £19.97 ($28.96) for a standard ticket or £31.50 ($45.68) for a fast track. Alongside this, you can check out some of the many famous shopping districts including Camden, for those looking for unique, bohemian markets; Oxford Street for classic high street stores or Covent Garden, if you’re looking to splurge. Similarly, you can book a concert or show at the impressive Wembley Stadium or O2 academy.
Alongside the basic elements, there are always other expenses that we fail to consider while traveling. Obviously, food and drink is an important part of any trip, and with London boasting some of the finest eateries in the world, it’s worth putting some money aside for this. Whether you head to Goodmans Steakhouse—just off Regent Street—which will set you back between £26 and £40 for a main meal or head to the much more budget friendly Hoppers, a Sri Lankan street food café, you’re sure to find something delicious to satisfy your taste buds. To keep costs low, you can also check out some of the classic British chain restaurants such as Wagamamas, Nandos or Pizza Express, where main meals will cost between £10-£15. In most places in the UK, the service charge is not included, so be sure to remember save enough for a 10-20 percent tip on every bill.
Similarly, it’s wise to budget in a little extra for hotel room charges, such as mini-bar use, room service or even—in some places—access to the TV in the room. However, if you’re trying to keep your budget low, you can easily bypass these by grabbing snacks from a local corner shop and bringing a laptop along so you can watch Netflix instead. If you’re going to do this, however, be sure to have a VPN installed as much of Netflix’s content is blocked when you’re abroad so you won’t be able to access your favorite shows otherwise.
London is a dynamic, lively and vibrant destination and is worth a visit no matter how much money you have. By carefully considering your budget and how you’re going to spend it, you can easily get around the misconceptions that it’s too expensive to visit.
If you have anymore advice on how to appropriately budget for your getaway to UK’s capital, then be sure to comment below.