England Notes for Budget Travelers

Bıg Ben

Ok. Budget is a bit of a misnomer. Let’s refer to it as a bleeding. The U.K. is an expensive place to visit when you’re on vacation and headed back to work and a paycheck next Friday. Coming from months in Asia, it was just painful to watch the pounds pour out of our wallet. In one week, we spent almost as much money as we did in two months of travel in India. Ok. So maybe this is not a fair comparison, but still. Ouch!

Like I said in Damn that Dollar, the prices are high and the exchange rate is a killer. So here are a few tips if you would like to make an attempt at budget travel ın England.

  • Transport can be expensive. Buses tend to be cheaper than the train for getting around the country, but if you’re traveling mid week and buy tickets in advance, you can get a good deal on the train. Getting around Central London is pretty easy on foot. For longer journeys around town or tired feet, the Tube is pleasant but pricey. If you are planning to do a few things outside the central area, it’s best to buy a Travel Card and take advantage of all day riding. Personally, I prefer the bus. A day pass is less than a return fare and much less than the Tube and you get the pleasure of riding around town on the double decker.
  • Lodging is a source of much pain. Hostels are plentiful throughout the U.K. but the prices are often more than you would pay for a decent hotel some places in the U.S and many are complete crap. In Liverpool our options were slim since much of the accommodation was already booked. We opted for the backpacker stalwart known as the Embassie. It’s the cheapest place in town, but only has dorm rooms. So we squeezed in with several others and tolerated the comings and goings of our roommates, one little shared bath and one long night of very loud snoring. You know it’s bad when Dave gets up, shakes a stranger’s bed and tells him to roll over. All this luxury cost us about $60 US a night. In London, we stayed at the massive Generator (better when pronounced with Schwarzenegger accent). The Generator is a full service mega hostel. It’s full of people, but is in a good location, clean, well serviced and provides free breakfast and good, cheap dinners, plus a free drink on arrival. A private room with bunk beds (we’ve gotten used to this), a sink and shared bath ran about $81 US a night.
  • Food runs the gamut in England. You can find all types and at all prices. Many restaurants offer good lunch deals, and there are plenty of cheap and tasty ethnic restaurants around town. A budget meal for the two of us was probably about $15 US – and it doesn’t get much cheaper than that.
  • Touristy Stuff is often free, though some entrance fees are a little pricey. We had considered visiting Buckingham Palace – which has additional private residences open this month – but tickets would have been around $60 per person. This was money better spent on LFC tickets – which were roughly the same price.

We’ve both been to England before, and will definitely return again, but with more cash and a paycheck waiting in the bank at home.