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How to Plan a Trip to London on a Budget?

How to Plan a Trip to London on a Budget?

It’s no secret that London is known for its high cost of living, which can give some travellers an impression that it’s a bit out of their budget to visit London for their holidays.

However, having a nice trip to London is totally possible if you want to do it without breaking the bank.

The city has everything for everyone, regardless of whether you’re a traveling on a shoestring budget or have a lot of money to spend on the trip. Read on to learn how much money you would need to keep aside for your next trip to London.

How Much Money Should I Take on a Holiday to London?

Apart from travel and accommodation, which we assume you have arranged for beforehand, you will need approximately £150 for your daily expenditures in London.

Holiday ClassEstimated Amount Needed Per Day (Per Person)
Budget£150 Per Day
Mid-range£300 Per Day
High-end£800 Per Day
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This amount is calculated conservatively and should cover for most of your activities, including transportation, meals, sightseeing, and entertainment as well.

If you are yet to book your accommodation and want to save some money on it, it’s advisable you try out options like Airbnb for staying in London, which can be a much cheaper option as compared to the popular hotels in the city.

Without any further delay, let’s dig right in to the details of expenses during an average person’s day in London.

Cost of Food and Drinks in London

An average traveler spends about £45 per day on food items and drinks in London. If fine dining isn’t your choice, you can have a meal for as cheap as £10 (special offers and discounts), though the price of a basic meal is usually around £15.

You can save more by eating McDonald’s or other common fast food restaurant chains. Some of these restaurants sell muffins for just over a pound. If your hotel room has free tea coffee or tea – you can have a cheap breakfast. If not, a cup of coffee costs around £3.

For lunch, try looking for “meal deals” in shops like Boots where you can get a sandwich, potato chips and a drink for around £5. If you like Chinese food, you will be able to find some Chinese restaurants in the city that offer moderately priced meals.

Carry a water bottle with you to refill with tap water which is fine in most cases unless there’s a sign stating otherwise.

Cost of Visiting Local Attractions, Museums, and Bars in London

You can expect to spend £40 in a day on fun, entertainment, and drinks in London. Even though many things are accessible for free in London, especially the museums and various art galleries, this expense is assuming that this is your first trip to London and you would like to visit at least 2 sights with paid entrance such as St Pauls and Westminster Abbey on your trip.

There are countless other free activities such as guided walks, talks, social events.You may probably want to limit your visits to the city’s paid attractions to once every couple of days, but it’s quite doable as long as you want to keep things simple and expenses to the minimum.

It goes without saying that if you are intending to drink alcohol on your trip, it will bump up your expenses. Beer is going to cost you £10 or more (depending on where you want to drink), assuming that you would like to go out every day and drink at least 2 pints. A glass of wine would cost £5 – £7.

Cost of Local Transport in London

A day’s transportation in London is going to cost you £12 if you get yourself a travel card which offers you unlimited travel in the city. Having said this, a taxi into the town from Heathrow can cost you £65. On the other hand, if you take the bus instead of a taxi, it will cost you £12, and the train option is also available for £16.50.

We chose Heathrow for the example as it’s the city’s biggest airport. The other airports are also just a short train journey away and it will cost around £15 to get to the town, give or take a couple of pounds. It’s advisable to avoid taxis, as there’s a chance you will get stuck in the traffic.

If you sum up the estimated daily expenditures from all the sections listed above, you will arrive at an amount of £97. Considering that you may need to go shopping in the city’s markets and shopping malls, add in some extra pounds to cover that depending on your shopping preferences and budget.

Tips for Travellers

  • Do not bring a large amount of cash with you
  • Carry a few pound coins with you for the airport trolley which you may need upon arrival at the airport. If not, you can still bring some money with you then exchange it at a shop in the airport for the coins
  • Use your debit or credit cards at the ATMs to withdraw the money that you need for the day. Use the ATM in the airport to withdraw enough pounds to sustain you over for the next couple of days
  • Use a credit card when you are purchasing items as far as possible. Usually, the exchange rate is way better if they either charge you in US dollars or when your bill gets converted to dollars by your credit card company
  • Notify your bank of your travel plans. They should advise you on which of the local banks they may have a relationship with. In such instances, the only fees that you will be charged would be from your own bank

Final Thoughts

Once you have spent a day or two in the city, you will probably get a better idea of how much money you need per day, as this amount differs for every traveler. Having said this, if you are trying to stick to a strict budget plan, don’t worry as there are plenty of cheap places to hang out in London.

As long as you don’t go overboard with the shopping or splurge on pubs and bars in the city, you can stay well within a budget of £150 to spend a day in London (or lesser, depending on the length of your trip).

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