Travel Tips: How to Save Money on Your Trip to London England

Save money on your trip to London England
Save money on your trip to London England | Source

Travel to London, England on a Budget

I recently took a trip London, England with two other people, and want to outline some steps I took to make it economical.

These money saving tips on all aspects of travel, including airfare, lodging, and food will make sure that your trip stays within your budget.

Airfare to London

The most expensive part of any trip is probably the airfare. In order to save money on our trip to London, England, we wanted to find rates that were economical. I went to several sites online to compare rates. Since the dates were flexible, we were able to look on the calendar on airfare.com to see which dates were the cheapest to travel. Prices varied tremendously, and we were able to save about half the cost simply by choosing a date that was economical.

We were able to find a date that was convenient to us and to our relatives, before the mad dash of the holidays and winter. Our departure date was only one week away, which may sound crazy, but it was perfect, since it kept us focused on doing only the essential things to get ready. We did not have time to shop, and change our minds over and over again about what to pack. The date also meant we would be able to leave early enough to give one of our relatives time to pack for her own trip.

The date offered us several flight options, and we were able to find convenient times to travel. None of the flights required us to wake up at crazy hours of the night just to travel. We flew on a combination of airlines - United took us to Toronto, Canada. Air Canada took us to London. On the way back, Continental took us to Newark, New Jersey, using a United plane, and Continental took us back home. Both of the long trips had monitors in the seat in front of us, so we were able to choose our own entertainment. The three of us found seats next to each other on each flight. We wound up playing games, talking and sleeping during our flights. We chose our seats when we booked the flights, and chose vegetarian meals as our meal options.

Luggage

We checked the website and noticed that, even though this was an international flight, we were only allowed to check in one piece of luggage without paying an additional fee. We like to travel light anyway, since too much luggage is awkward to handle at an airport, so this was not a problem. We made sure that we did not purchase more than would fit in our luggage on our way back. I would have liked to have checked in my carry on wheeled piece on the way back, since we were going on, but I dragged it along with me instead of paying the additional fee.

Sightseeing in London, England

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Lion statue in London, Englandhistoric house in London, EnglandLondon Eye
Lion statue in London, England
Lion statue in London, England | Source
historic house in London, England
historic house in London, England | Source
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London Eye
London Eye | Source
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Hotel

Even though staying with the relatives would have saved us a lot of money, we chose to stay at a hotel in London. We chose a hotel that was economical and in a good area of town, within walking distance of restaurants, our relatives, and a tube station. We looked at several different sites, and found the hotel through expedia.com. Even though it is time consuming, I recommend reading the reviews that other travelers have placed on the sites. You will be able to get valuable information and advice about staying at the location. We stayed at the Ramada in Ealing Common, which is on the Piccadilly line, which provided convenient transport to all of our relatives and to the shopping area. The only time we had to transfer to the District line was to go sightseeing.

When it came time to tip the maid, we gave her all of our coins. They totaled to the approximate amount we would have paid in bills. Since we could not exchange the coins back to dollars when we returned to the United States from the United Kingdom, we saved the time of exchanging the coins to bills by simply using them up, and kept them from going to waste.

London England

A markerlondon, england -
City of London, UK
[get directions]

Points

We used a credit card that provided extra points for travel. We could have used our frequent flyer numbers, but since we were combining a variety of airlines, and since we do not travel overseas very often, they will likely expire.

Food

We were able to eat at our relatives' houses for all meals, except when they took us out to dinner. We also ate out when we went sightseeing. We took some small snacks with us, so we would be able to stave off hunger while we looked for a restaurant that met our budget and tastes. We bought water from a gas station instead of the exorbitant price from the hotel bar.

Wi-Fi

The hotel offered free Wi-Fi in the lobby, which we used. Our relatives called us, so we avoided paying for phone calls. One of us paid for an international cell phone line, and all three of us used it instead of each of us paying our own.

Transportation

Instead of renting a car, we used public transportation. We traveled by tube in London for the most part, using an Oyster card. You pay a deposit for the card, and add money to it at many convenient stores. Swipe them at the tube station to receive discounted rates on transportation. You can return the cards to receive your deposit, but since the amount of money that is added to the cards are not refundable, most visitors choose to leave the cards with people who live in the country. Our UK relatives already had cards that we could use. We did travel by car from time to time, but fuel is very expensive. For large groups 3-4 people, especially for short trips, a taxi is also economical since they charge by the ride and not by the person. You call the taxi and can negotiate the rate before they come, so you know exactly what to expect.

For sight-seeing, we took the Original London Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour. This allowed us to get transportation throughout the tourist sights, and receive information about the sights rom live guides. A boat tour was also a part of the ticket price, so we were able to see a view form the Thames as well.

Shopping

We did not buy anything to go on our trip to London. We wore the comfortable dressy clothes we already owned. Too often, people feel like they need to buy new things to go on a trip, but I believe that the clothes you already own are a better choice. They have already been tested for comfort under different conditions, and you know whether you feel good wearing them. We borrowed suitcases instead of buying them.

The purpose of our trip was to meet with relatives, so we spent most of our time with them. We were able to meet relatives we had never seen, as well as get reacquainted with ones we had not seen in a long time. We did go sightseeing one day with one of our relatives, and shopping one day with another, but for the most part, we stayed at their houses and talked, and looked at their photographs. Our shopping was limited to buying a few souvenirs for those who stayed at home.

Going on an overseas vacation can be expensive, but with a few careful measures, it can be affordable.

© 2011 Shasta Matova

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Comments: Travel to London on a Budget 22 comments

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks Mike. I hope you have a super time in London, and can save some money while you are there!


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

I'm traveling in London at 17th of December :) Your hub is an awesome resource, Bookmarked it and shared!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you timetraveler2. I was thinking of traveling around the world after I retired, but I realized that it would be better to do it now while I can get around easily. I hope you do get a chance to travel from time to time, and can find inexpensive ways to do that.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

When you are young, you can do many of these things. However, they don't work so well for senior citizens. Nonetheless, I applaud the way you handled the finances for this trip. Nice hub!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Judi Bee, thanks for visiting, commenting and voting. We found both London and Italy to be quite expensive - the prices in pounds or euros seemed comparable to what we were paying here in dollars, but with the exchange rate, we were paying almost twice as much. We needed to be especially thrifty there.


Judi Bee profile image

Judi Bee 4 years ago from UK

I love London, I lived there for a few years, but it can be hellish expensive. Some good ideas for saving money.

Voted up and useful.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for the additional input JamaGenee. Safety is important anywhere you go.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

TheHuG5, I consider public transportation in England one of the Wonders of the Modern World! There are very few places one can't get to by using it. In London proper, it's THE BEST (and cheapest) way to get around. I'm also a small-town girl, with the same fears as you, but got over it very quickly after only a couple of days.

However, for safety it's good to retain a certain amount of "fear", i.e. keep your purse or backpack close, and know where you're going ahead of time so you won't alert muggers that you're easy prey, etc. If you find yourself somewhere you didn't intend to be, ask any (uniformed) "Safety Officer" for help, or just go to the ticket desk of whatever station you find yourself in.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA Author

Oh how exciting! My daughter is going to school in England now. The public transportation system is amazing and easy. There is a booth at the big train stations with people who will help you with your route, and it is easy to figure out what train to take by the little map they give you every time you stop by the desk.


THEHuG5 profile image

THEHuG5 4 years ago

I'll probably be living in England soon as an exchange student so this hub will be very useful to me for advice. Luckily I've already been overseas so I won't be completely clueless but I've never been to England before. The thing I am most nervous about is using public transportation. I don't live in a city so we don't really have any and it seems like kind of a scary thing to a country girl like me lol. Hopefully it won't be too tricky to figure out though. Thanks for sharing this!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

JamaGenee, thanks for reading my hub and commenting. that's right, I forgot to mention the free museums. We didn't have any time to visit any, so I simply forgot. We took a car back and forth to the airport, since we had luggage. We didn't rent a car - we had relatives who drove us from time to time.

I have found that all of the airlines have their issues, and so far I haven't gotten caught up in mishaps.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Great tips for visiting my favorite city in the world. I wish I'd left most of my clothes at home, and will the next time. Same for toiletries. London is not a Third World Country. They have stores where one can purchase necessities like shampoo. Leaving your own stuff at home also saves time going through Security at the airport. I'm surprised you mentioned a car. London public transport is wonderful. Very few places a tourist would go that aren't accessible by bus or Tube. I did treat myself, tho, to a cab ride from Paddington the first day just to find out what it was like!

You didn't mention the museums or that entrance to most is FREE. I LOVE free!

As for your choice of airlines, congratulations on traveling on Continental without a problem. A friend's daughter returning from China wasn't so lucky. The plane, for reasons never explained, set down in Albany, only 200 miles away from Newark, so she missed her connecting flight to KC where she should've been at 6:00 on a Fri evening, but didn't get there until 10:30 the next morning. Plus the counter reps were quite rude and not at all helpful to any of the passengers. The lesson being Continental's fares are the cheapest for a reason - buy one at your own risk.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Kikalina.


kikalina profile image

kikalina 5 years ago from Europe

great hub. reminded me of my last trip to London.


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Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Stephanie, thank you for your comment. It does go both ways - if you crash at someone else's place, they have to feel welcome to crash at your place. And of course, we respect them by washing the dishes, keeping the place tidy, and bringing gifts.


stephaniedas profile image

stephaniedas 5 years ago from Miami, US

This is a good overview. Taking advantage of relatives and friends when you travel is a great money-saver. If I lived in a tourist destination, I'd have to let people crash at my place and use my kitchen so they could save money, just as many people have done for me so many times. Good job.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you habee. It is a great place to visit - I hope you make it there too!


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Great tips for visiting London. I hope to get there one day! voted up.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for for your comment Nell Rose. I did have a good time. I had always heard that you should buy your tickets ahead of time, but sometimes a last minute journey can also save money.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, glad you had a good time over here, you are so right in saying that it doesn't have to be too expensive if you are careful. I find that if you take a plane journey at the last moment it does seem to be cheaper, great ideas and information, cheers nell


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Moon Daisy. I agree that doing research before going to a place is very useful.


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 5 years ago from London

Nice hub. Another very good website for reading reviews about hotels, restaurants, flights and loads of other things involving travel, is tripadviser. We always use it before we go anywhere. It's great to get an honest idea of a place before committing to it!

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