Travel Tips: How to Save Money on Your Trip to London England
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.
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, EnglandClick thumbnail to view full-size
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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