Having lived in England for quite a while now, I thought, I could give some really good advice to people who plan to visit this lovely country. So here you go…
Accommodation in England is notoriously expensive so your best bet would be to check websites like hotels.com or booking.com for the cheaper hostel offers. I would also recommend websites like AirBnb or Couchsurfing. If you want your own privacy, you can stay in shabby hotels or B&Bs (bed and breakfasts) but you’d better off staying in a hostel with a better rating.
If you want to travel across England by train, be prepared. Train travel in England is one of the most expensive in the world. My best advice to you would be to cook tickets in advance. You can use websites like Trainline Farefinder but you can only book tickets three months in advance so if you know you want to travel somewhere, the earlier you book tickets the better.
Check train websites for promotional deals like Trainline or Virgin Trains. Sometimes they have sales on.
Generally avoid travelling on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays as then the tickets are at their most expensive. Sometimes the tickets can be slightly cheaper if you choose more off-peak travelling times.
If the train is out of the question for you because it’s too expensive, I have some good news. Travel by bus and use companies like Megabus or National Express. Travelling by bus in England is so much cheaper than by train, but of course, you’ll be stuck on a bus for hours. For example, London to Manchester takes around five hours, London to Leeds around 5 hours…
Using car sharing services like BlablaCar can be cheaper than travelling by bus but I recommend comparing the two.
Eating in restaurants can be expensive, but comparing to Western Europe it is still one of the cheapest places to eat you just have to be clever, so here are some tips on how to save money on food.
If you cook your own food that would be absolutely the cheapest option possible. Food in supermarkets like Tesco, Morrisons, Asda is very cheap. In fact, food in England is one of the cheapest in Western Europe. So buying ingredients and making your own meals is a key for budget conscious travellers.
Look out for “reduced to clear” section in supermarkets. It’s basically food or produce that’s near its expiry date so individual supermarkets heavily discount the prices. Tesco and M&S are famous for it, and you can easily recognise the discounted goods with bright coloured stickers on them.
Meal deals in the UK are literally an institution with an almost like cult following. You get a sandwich, a snack and a drink for around £3. It’s eaten by anyone from office workers to uni students. This can prove to be one of the cheapest eating options. Tesco’s meal deal is particularly famous one and costs exactly £3. Nearly all shops offer this deal including chemists like Boots or Superdrug.
Pub food is generally cheap. You can eat out and enjoy some good English food with a pint of beer all for around £10. This can be the cheapest option to eat out. Chain pubs like Wetherspoons or Harvesters are famous for cheap pub food. So just ask locals or people at your hostel for nearest Wetherspoons. Just a warning, it ain’t a gourmet food but decent enough.
Chain restaurants are usually the cheapest. Think of Nando’s, a peri-peri chicken restaurant that’s nearly everywhere in England. Check websites like booktable.com for deals at places like Zizzi’s (Italian chain) or Pizza Express.
When it comes to drinking, England can prove to be very difficult. The further away you go from London the cheaper it gets. Generally speaking, you’ll be paying around £4.70 for a pint of beer in London, while usually in the rest of the country, you’ll be looking at around £3.70. Getting alcohol from supermarkets would be your cheapest option.
Drinking on the beaches and London parks is absolutely fine and encouraged. But drinking in parks in the rest of country is highly frowned upon and it’s associated with drinking underage teenagers and low class. In more affluent areas, drinking sparkling wine, or wine and fruit cider could be okay as long as it looks like you’re having a picnic.
Be always polite! There’s not enough pleases, thank yous, excuse mes and sorrys. The English are famously polite society. If you go without those magical words you’ll be automatically labelled rude and ignorant. Usual scenario in a shop buying something would consist of at least two thanks yous. You can even say thank you when leaving the shop followed by the bye.
Staying in famous places like the centre of London, Bath or even Newcastle can prove rather expensive. If you stay in a town or village nearby and then get a bus to the town, you can save as much as half off accommodation you’d pay for central locations.
Most of the museums and galleries are free, but some attractions like cathedrals or entries to castles can be a bit pricey. More famous attractions go for around £30 which is an average entry price, think of Tower of London, theme parks or well-established sites like Madame Tussaud’s. Lesser known attractions including most of the castles go for around £10. Choose wisely which attractions you’d rather visit to save those pounds.
Buy snacks and even some toiletries from shops like Savers or Poundshop which are discount stores. Things like shampoos, shower gels, deodorants, tubes of toothpaste and other toiletries are considerably cheaper at such stores. They’re still branded toiletries if you’re thinking they could be some dodgy replicas.
It’s true that sometimes taxis can prove cheaper than public transport if travelling within a group. Example, if you wanted to get from point A to point B in Leeds, the taxi could cost at around £8, while bus tickets could be around £2.50 each and if it’s like four of you, it’d be more cost effective to use taxis. Except for London. London taxis are notoriously pricey. Use Uber. But never use black cabs.
In London, if you’re making two bus journeys within one hour, you pay for one.
Don’t be scared to go inside English pubs. They’re not just drinking dens. In England, pubs are seen as social hubs. You can have your lunch there. Pub lunches are very popular and it’s more English than afternoon tea. Afternoon teas are posh and only really practised by higher classes, however, pub lunches are enjoyed by everyone from lower to the absolute top classes.
Another tip for London. I highly recommend purchasing Oyster Card using “Pay as You Go” service. You’ll get automatically capped and you’ll get only charged for what you’ve travelled. So a daily cap for zone one to two where most of the major attraction are costs around £7. You don’t have to do anything as this cap is automatic on your Oyster Card.
And another last tip. London is probably the best place in Europe if you want to travel cheaply within Europe. Yes, it might be true that Britain is an island but cheap Ryanair flights from Stanstead mean you can get dirty cheap flight tickets to Germany or even Italy. This is sometimes cheaper than getting a train to Manchester. Best ways to check those super cheap flight deals is to hop on Skyscanner and use their flexible search that’ll show you the cheapest destinations to fly to. Another tip, don’t use specific dates but use a whole month viewer. Another great product from Skyscanner.
This is all really. If you have any other great tips for travelling England you would like to share with me and with the community, feel free to comment below.