08 April, 2017

How I saved money on my trip to London

Now that my trip to London is over, I can officially say I spent way too much money on souvenirs, to the point that my suitcases almost didn't close. But I could do that because I saved as much money as possible before I even landed in London.

Since London is one of the most expensive cities to visit, as reported by Business Insider, I needed to find savings wherever I could. The key was going to be before I landed because once you get there you can't negotiate. Prices are flat, you can't argue about food, you either eat, or go somewhere else. You either buy that souvenir or you don't.

The first step, and sometimes the most expensive is actually getting to London, this means airfare. I specifically bit the bullet at the right time. It had been a constant nagging thought at the back of my mind that if I waited til summer or fall that prices for airfare and hotel/airbnb could double. This wasn't something I could afford at all. So pick off peak times. While this means you'll be bundled up, I'll be honest even when I went everyone was bundled up, and I was in short sleeves, earning myself some odd looks. 

So for airfare I want to tell you about Aer Lingus, no actually I want to scream it from the rooftops because people don't typically know about Aer Lingus and they should! Aer Lingus offers economy flying from America's major airports to Europe's. Here is the key to saving the most money, but I'll also tell you my personal opinion on the matter as well. 

Aer Lingus's major hub is Dublin so most of their flights will layover in Dublin before heading to the final destination, if you plan on seeing most of the British Isles and not just London, stop here first and maybe take the ferry across to Liverpool (don't ask me how to do this since I didn't actually do this sorry). But that will shave a bit of money off your ticket price, but it also adds the inconvenience of finding your way to the ferry and then to the mainland, finding your way in Liverpool from the docks to the train station to get to London, so on and so forth. So it's up to you. 

The other way I saved money, but next time will pay the difference, is I decided to drive the 3 hours up to Chicago to take off from that major airport instead of paying the $200-$300 extra for an affiliate airline to fly me up there to get my connection. Not only was this a pain in the butt for the people who had to drive me but also just kind of a pain since I had such a long wait in the airport. If you can afford to pay the connection flight, do it, unless you're near the major airport!

With all that being said, my roundtrip ticket from Chicago to London Heathrow came to $930. I even looked up expedia and all their prices were $1400+, so Aer Lingus saved me a TON!

One final mention about Aer Lingus before I move on, they do offer vacation packages which actually look AMAZING! They include airfare and hotel accommodations in Dublin, London, Paris for different night stays and different city combinations. So check them out to.

The next area I saved money on was where I stayed, the biggest way I did this was airbnb. If you haven't tried airbnb yet, I would encourage you to give it a try in the states and see how you like it. The key to my airbnb is one big thing that most people think they shouldn't do when staying in London. Stay in the inner city, or zone 1 on the tube map. I say this because if you plan on mostly doing tourist things while in London this will save you not only time but money on your oyster card (which I'll talk about more in a bit).

I browsed the airbnb map after just putting in the simple search of London, England for a little bit until I found a place well within the center for only $63 a night. Once I put in my dates, that price dropped to $55 a night. This place was only a 15 minute walk to the nearest tube station and 5 minutes to the nearest bus stop, so it was ideally located for quick commutes to any place I needed to go. If you use citymapper app it makes it easy to navigate the city as well, so that hoping from stations and stops aren't scary.

My total airbnb stay was $461 including everything, for 8 days.

The last area that you want to set up before you leave is your in city travel, how do you ask. Get your visitor oyster card. I purchased mine through my London pass, which I would also recommend if you're planning on doing a lot of tourist sites since it'll let you in free to a lot of places. Please check the list of places they let you in free first, however, to be sure it's worth the money.

Your oyster card is going to be the card that allows you to use the tube and the bus systems. It'll save you a ton of money, let me tell you. During my trip, I ended up with a pretty significant sprain so for two days I rested my legs, and ended up taking ubers a lot, and man did those charges add up A LOT. So try to get an oyster card and use public transport as much as possible. Obviously peak time (7a-9a) and (4p-7p) in London can be a mad house depending on where you're going and which area of the city you're in, but if you're smart and just have patience you'll be fine. I ended up in some of the busiest parts of London at rush hour and just enjoyed the ride on the bus.

Staying in the center of the city (zone 1) will also keep you from charging too much on your oyster card, because the further you go out of the city the higher the fees go up. BUT you can top up your cards at a lot of places, so if you find yourself unable to board a bus, just ask where you can top up. Again use the citymapper app to find your way around!

My oyster card was preloaded with $25 which I never needed to top up.

I hope some of this helped. If you have any questions about anything here please feel free to ask. If you're planning a trip to London, I hope you go and have an amazing time, it's seriously my favorite place in the world!

1 comment :

  1. I love it! Thanks for giving some insight on your travel tips.


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