How to plan a trip to London on a Budget
London is one of the most vibrant, dynamic, culture-filled cities in the world. Thus, it often makes its way on to many travelers’ short list of must-see places. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive. However, if you plan your vacation, there’s no reason why you couldn’t travel to London and see all the sights that you want. Below, I share some tips to do just that – Plan a trip to London on a Budget!
1. Save with a favorable Currency rate
Now is a great time to take advantage of the current exchange rate on the British pound. When I visited London, it was 2 British pounds to 1 USD, which is expensive for most travelers. Today, the exchange rate is closer to 1 British pound to 1 USD. Thus, London is basically 50% off which makes it the perfect destination for anyone looking for a budget trip! Finally, it won’t break the bank to take a trip across the pond and actually be able to comfortably sightsee, eat and travel.
2. Get a London Pass
The London Pass is a sightseeing pass to major attractions around London. Depending on how long you plan to visit London, getting this pass can result in significant savings. Take a look at my blog post, Is the London Pass worth it? for more detailed info on visiting major London attractions at a discounted rate. Also, check out Take a Royal Tour -Visit 4 Royal palaces and Visit the Top sights in Central London. These will give you more details on attractions to see with your London Pass.
3. Get a Transportation Pass
There are numerous transportation options in London. But using them in a single format can add up budget wise. Consider getting a transportation pass to get more savings as you move about. My post, “How to get around London”, discusses the various transportation options for you to get the most bang for your buck. If you’re coming from the airport, there are also options for you to save on trains from the airport to central London. The 2nd tab of this post discusses “Travel Card vs. Oyster Card” references two pass options for London tube/metro, bus and rail. There can be significant savings from a transportation pass as you get around London.
4. Discover free things to see and do
In a city as large as London, there are countless options for entertainment and culture. And not all of them have to be costly. Discover “10 Free things to see and do in London” for 10 great options to stay on budget while in London. These 10 things could keep you busy for a few days and they are all centrally located & free.
5. Food on a budget
There are some great options for eating cheaply in London including the many ethnic restaurants and outdoor markets. You can opt to purchase your meals at these places, any small shops selling sandwiches or grab a tea and snack. You also have the option to bring back your food to your hotel or lodging. Thus, avoiding a service charge at a sit-down restaurant.
You can cook your meals but I just don’t believe in that for vacation. Breakfast maybe. I usually buy breakfast items at a supermarket. However, this is more “assembly” than “cooking”. Dinner can be had so cheaply in London that I recommend “take-away” instead. Try a kebab house, Indian food or a food market. Besides, if you are like me, you’ll be in the throes of sightseeing that dinner time will sneak up on you and you’ll have to make some quick decisions.
6. Secure an Award Ticket or Reservation
Getting a flight to London and securing accommodation can still be pricey. However, if you get a travel credit card (either hotel or airline card) with a big points/miles sign-on bonus, you will have lots of loyalty points/miles banked. This will enable you to secure an Award flight or hotel reservation using points or miles. Sometimes, your plane ticket or hotel can be completely free.
Or, you can use a combination of points and $money or miles and $money to help cut the cost of your hotel or flight. Either way, it’s a savings that leaves you with extra money in your pocket to spend on your vacation.
Another option is using a % cash back card so that when you book your flight or hotel, you get back a %. It’s like a small discount off the price. Still prefer the Award Ticket or reservation however as that can be minimal or zero money out of pocket. For inspiration on Award travel, review my post, “How to travel on an Italian vacation for free” for how I did this on my Italy trip.
7. Find affordable Lodging
If not using award travel (above), consider a hostel or Airbnb for a family or larger group. These options will allow you to take control of your lodging budget. Also, consider hotels outside of central London. The savings you get from a discounted hotel room rate can add up. And, you can put some of those savings towards a Transporation Pass (#3 above) that you may have gotten anyways.