We’re all on a budget, but that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t have fun. If you’re taking a trip to London, you want to enjoy yourself. Here’s how to do it without breaking the bank.
Book Your Trip In Advance
If you have the option, definitely book your trip in advance. Sites, like Hipmunk can help you navigate deals and find the best flights, vehicles, and other travel accommodations. Flying to London can get pretty pricey, especially if you’re coming from the U.S. or some other country outside of Europe.
Get a Good Deal On A Hotel
Getting a good deal on hotels in London can be tricky. They tend to be smallish and overpriced. London is the capital city and, like most capitals, it’s cramped and expensive. It can cost several hundred dollars a night. Even a dorm-style hostel can run you $80 U.S. per day.
Most people never get deals like this and so they skip the city altogether. If you’re going to stay here for any length of time, a hostel is probably the best way to go. While you can spend $80, you can also find places like the Astor Kensington, which has dorm-style beds that start at $22 per night.
Sometimes, you can also just rent an empty flat (apartment) from someone through Studios 92, which can be comparable to renting a hostel bed or a hotel.
Use The Public Transit
One of the best travel deals in London is the Oyster Card. It’s a smartcard for the city’s public transit system and using it is more than 50 percent cheaper than buying a one-day paper Travelcards or single tickets for the bus or subway.
The Oyster Card can also be used to buy a wide range of food and drinks, and you can get discounts at some shops in the city.
Of course, you can also walk around London if you want. The city is made for it – that and cycling. The Boris bike scheme is a public bicycle rental scheme where the first half-hour is free and subsequent hours are fairly cheap.
There are docking stations all over London. Basically, you just rent a bike, pick it up at any one of the stations, and then return it to a station when you’re done. It costs £2 to access the bikes for 24 hours, £2 for every 30 minutes after the first 30 minute block, and you may hire a bike as many times as you want within the 24 hour period you initially purchased – so, you could pay the £2 for 24 hour access, ride for 30 minutes, put it away, then ride back to where you came from later in the day.
You don’t have to keep the bike all day long (which could get expensive). You simply dock and then rehire the bike when you’re ready to ride.
Cheap Things To Do
London does have quite a bit of free things for you to take in. There’s the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery, and the British Museum.
There’s also Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath. And, if you want a bit of the old-fashioned, check out the changing of the guard at least once while you’re here.
A West End theatre show can be cheap if you buy your tickets in advance – you get a discount. You could also visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for cheap tickets at the last minute if you forgot to book in advance.
Finally, the London pass gets you into a lot of attractions for free. For example, you can get into the Tower of London, the Westminster Abbey, the London Bridge Experience, the Thames River Cruise, and a variety of other places.
If you want affordable food, stick to chain restaurants. It might not be gourmet food, but it’s cheap and familiar. If it’s nice out, you can buy pre-made sandwiches from supermarkets or shops.
Fiona Moriarty is a content strategist for Hipmunk. She enjoys posting about saving money while living large. Look for her posts on many money and travel blog sites.