It’s no secret that London is an expensive city, which can make some travelers think that it’s out of their price range. However a trip to London can be successful even on a small budget. There is no shortage of free things to do in London, including free museums, attractions and self-guided walks.
But before you open your wallet, there are several things that you should know which can help save you money. To make your London trip more enjoyable, here are 10 costly mistakes to avoid:
1. Skipping London’s free attractions
While London is known to be an expensive city, it has plenty of free attractions that are worth a visit. Many of London’s most popular museums are free, so whether you prefer to spend the afternoon admiring beautiful art at the National Gallery or hanging out with the Egyptian mummies at the British Museum, there is a never a dull moment at London’s free attractions.
2. Not taking advantage of London’s tourism passes
While it’s often cheaper to book the big attractions in advance, I highly recommend taking advantage of London’s 2FOR1 offers if you’re traveling by train.
Get 2FOR1 entry to over 150 top London attractions, landmarks, theatre and exhibits, including the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Simply download a voucher and present it with your rail ticket when you visit the attraction.
Alternatively, if you’re traveling alone or with a group, you may want to consider getting The London Pass. This includes free entry to over 60 London attractions, a free Hop on Hop off bus tour, an optional Oyster travecard and more.
3. Staying at a hotel outside of the city center
It may be tempting to save money by booking accommodations outside of the city center, but the extra time and transportation costs can quickly add up.
Staying in a central location not only will save you time, but chances are you’ll be able to walk or take a short bus ride to the main attractions. London is a big city with lots to see and do, which makes spending a little extra to stay more centrally worth your while.
4. Tipping too much
Before visiting any new country or city, it’s always best to do a little research on their tip etiquette. While tipping is appreciated, it’s not always appropriate in London. Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind:
Tipping in London restaurants: When eating out, it’s customary to leave 10-15% of the bill. Sometimes restaurants add on a service charge (usually 12.5%), so I recommend double checking your bill to prevent tipping twice. Tipping is not customary for fast food, takeaway or self-service.
Tipping in bars: Tipping is not common in bars or pubs.
Tipping in taxi drivers: While it is polite to tip 10-15% of the taxi fare, most people simply round up to the nearest pound.
Tipping in London hotels: Many London hotel restaurants include a service charge, usually 10-12%. If a service charge is not included on your restaurant bill, it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip. For cleaning staff and hotel porters, leaving a tip is at your discretion, but always appreciated.
5. Not eating at supermarkets
It’s no secret that eating out in London can be expensive. However, eating in is a much more affordable option, especially for travelers on a budget.
Local supermarkets offer a variety of pre-made food, such as sandwiches or salads, which are perfect for a quick lunch or snack. Have a picnic in the park or enjoy your meal in the comfort of your hotel room.
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6. Not researching restaurants ahead of time
Since London restaurants can be quite expensive, it’s worth your while to do a little research before you arrive. Use review websites such as Yelp to find the top rated restaurants in your price range. This will help prevent you from eating at tourist restaurants, which are often overpriced and serve mediocre food at best.
Related post: 20 ways to save money when eating out
7. Not using an Oyster card
While riding the Tube around London can be expensive, it can sometimes cost twice the price for someone traveling without an Oyster card when taking the exact same journey.
An Oyster card allows travelers to get a cheaper fare for tickets than just by buying them as you go. You can pick up an Oyster card at the airport or any Tube station when arriving in London.
If you’re using The London Pass, there is an optional Oyster Travelcard available. It comes pre-loaded with a credit/value to match your London Pass duration.
8. Riding the Tube for every trip
Now that you know you can save money on Tube fare by using an Oyster card, don’t think that riding the Tube is the only way to get around London. While the city is large, it’s easy to get to most central attractions on foot, depending on where your accommodations are located.
Plus, one of the best ways to get to know a new city is on foot. However, if walking is not convenient, consider riding one of London’s buses, which are much cheaper than taking the Tube.
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9. Not buying a return ticket for the Airport Express train
There are a few ways to travel from the airport into London, including taking the airport express train. This is the quickest option to help maximize your vacation time and it’s worth the price, in my opinion.
- It’s often less busy than Heathrow airport
- It’s often cheaper to fly into Gatwick
- The Gatwick express train tickets qualify for the 2FOR1 London discounts (Heathrow express train tickets do not qualify)
You can purchase your Gatwick express train tickets at the airport when you arrive. Make sure to purchase a return ticket at the same time since this saves you several pounds.
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10. Trying to see and do everything in London
There is so much to see and do in London, it’s impossible to do it all in one trip. While it’s tempting to jump from one expensive attraction to the next, you’ll end up losing money by not making the most of your experience.
Plan ahead and devote enough time for the essential attractions. Not only will this help you save money, but you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for these attractions when you take your time and travel slow.London on a budget: 10 costly mistakes to avoidClick To Tweet
Over to you – what are your tips for visiting London on a budget?
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