Part of the fun of living in the UK is getting to travel around the country during your time off. One weekend you could be exploring the beautiful coastline of Cornwall, the next you could be hiking the dramatic scenery of the Peak District. Trips to cities packed with culture – think Bath, or Edinburgh – will also be practically on your doorstep. Being budget friendly will allow you to maximise your time abroad.
But this isn’t exactly a cheap country, and things can easily add up if you’re not careful. That’s why you should know the best ways to travel around the UK on a budget. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Book train travel in advance
Train travel in the UK is pretty impressive: there are 2,563 stations dotted around the country, not including stations on the London Underground nor 181 heritage railways. So a lot of the country is connected by various railway networks. But it’s not the most economical way to get around. It can be good value for money, however, if you book in advance. Try thetrainline.com or train company websites like that of South Western Railway.
Take the bus instead
The bus is a cheap way to travel around London (£1.55, capped at £4.65 per day). Some regular buses have such an incredible route through the city that they work well as a tourist bus in themselves – minus the price gouging. The number 26 bus from Waterloo station, for example, winds through The Royal Courts of Justice, St. Paul’s, Liverpool Street, all the way to the hip ‘hood of Shoreditch and beyond.
Buses are also a good way to travel the UK on a budget. Companies like Megabus offer seriously cheap deals, especially if you book ahead; even if you book the same day, a night bus trip from London to Edinburgh can cost a very reasonable £14.99. Another company, Flixbus, boasts tickets from as low as £2.99. Travelling long distances doesn’t have to be expensive if you get the bus, and if you get a night bus, well, that saves on a night of accommodation, too.
Use your feet
Walking around a city is by far the cheapest way to get around once you’re at your destination. Walking around London in particular offers up endless rewards of hidden cobbled side streets, old pubs, and ancient monuments hidden in plain sight. If you’re worried about walking for miles upon miles to find something interesting, don’t be: even the main sights and attractions are often a short walk from each other, and that goes for London.
Knowing where to eat (and what to eat once you’re there) is a good way of keeping things cheap as you travel around the UK. Eating out in restaurants and fancy pubs the whole time is bound to affect your finances, so avoid posh spots and opt for budget bites instead. One example is the meal deal from supermarket chain Tesco. For £3 you get a sandwich, a snack of your choice (crisps, etc) and a drink. Not bad. Pub chains like Wetherspoon also have good deals: breakfast muffins with tea or coffee for £2.49, for one thing.
Thankfully for those looking to travel the UK on a budget, many top attractions across the land are completely free to use. London is a good place to start, thanks to its collection of world-class museums with zero admission fees. There’s the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum, the permanent exhibition at the Tate Modern, the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts… the list goes on. Always have a search for free things to do in whatever area you’re in, and you’ll be sure to find tons to keep you occupied.
Choose accomodation wisely
Depending on how exactly you like to travel, you’ll want to pick what sort of accommodation you stay in with your preferences in mind. If you’re an independent traveller, for example, you might not want to opt for a hostel every single time. An Airbnb or Vrbo might be better for you, especially in terms of a more local setting, and things like kitchen, bathroom, washing facilities and – above all (especially compared to a hostel) – privacy. Hostels, however, can be super cheap, and are surprisingly numerous in the UK’s big cities and tourist hotspots, so keep an eye out for those.
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