London is a popular travel destination, whether you are travelling with kids, visiting as a couple, with friends or doing the solo history buff sightseeing. It has something for everyone, and a whole lot more.
But it can also be considered one of the more expensive travel destinations… at least if you are from somewhere like Australia and your dollar is currently sitting at around .47 cents to a pound. Yes, that currency conversion is downright depression when embarking on a London holiday.
When travelling to London, we like to plan ahead and do what we can to reduce the costs of travel and expenses. Here are some of our top tips for saving money in London for budget family travel:
One of the biggest money drainers for any travel is often the accommodation. But it doesn’t have to be quite so harsh on the hip pocket. You can save money in London on accommodation by making a few adjustments to where you are staying.
Firstly, there is no need to go for a luxury 5 star accommodation. If you are visiting London for a short time, you won’t be spending a lot of time at your accommodation anyway so choose London accommodation that is simple, clean, with all the basic amenities you need, but minus the unnecessary flash features.
Secondly, stay out of the centre of London. Sure you could justify that staying right in the centre will save you money on transport, but with your Oyster Card, that isn’t very expensive anyway. Consider staying a little further outside of London for a reduction in accommodation costs. You will be amazed how big of a difference that 20 minutes on the Tube will make to save you money in London… or any big city really!
During our last visit to London, we stayed at Novotel London West in Hammersmith, which was a short walk and 15-20 minute train ride into the centre of London. There wasn’t a lot near to the hotel, but the hotel itself had plenty of amenities if we needed them.
Hotels Combined will help you find plenty of budget family accommodation, such as hotel chains to save money.
If you are planning to do a fair bit of travel around London, the expenses of purchasing single trip tickets on public transport every time can add up quickly. A great way to save money in London while sightseeing is to purchase a visitor Oyster Card.
An Oyster Card is a pre-loaded travel card giving you unlimited access to London public transport – including London Underground trains (Tube), buses, Docklands Light Rail and overground Trains – at a capped price. You can travel any time of the day or night and avoid the waiting and lining up to purchase tickets each time, since you simply swipe your card to register your trip.
The Oyster Card can be loaded up with enough funds to cover the duration of your stay, for example, a 3 day visit to London would mean 3 days worth of travel credit. And it works out that after 3 trips, you are essentially getting the rest of your travel for the day FREE!
if you want to save even more money on transport in London, consider walking. While this isn’t possible for everywhere you want to go, there is a lot within walking distance in the city. If you have reasonable fitness levels, you can get around without having to rely on public transport for every leg of your sightseeing journey.
Plus it helps walk off some of the food and drinks you may have been consuming during your travels.
The London Pass is a highly recommended method to save money in London. The London Pass is a city sightseeing pass that allows you access into many of London’s most popular attractions – over 60 in fact.
You can purchase London Passes with different lengths of time to suit your visit length, from 1, 2, 3, 6 or 10 days.
The London Pass will save you a stack of money on London attractions by giving you included entry for one reasonable low price. For example, a 2 day London Pass, which is what we had during our last visit, currently costs around £75.
You can see a lot in 2 days and it by far saved us a lot of money in London rather than purchasing tickets directly from every venue. The attractions we visited would have easily cost upward of £100 pound otherwise.
The London Pass also saves you time as you simply show your London Pass on arrival and don’t have to worry about long queues to purchase tickets. You can purchase your London pass online and either collect in person or have it shipped to you.
Tip: There is also a Paris Pass in case you jump on the train for a few days in Paris. Worth it!
Like accommodation, another great way to save money in London is to venture a little further from the city for food. This is especially the case near major tourist areas and attractions.
Food near heavily populated tourist hotspots is going to attract a much higher price so enjoy some of the lesser experienced scenery and take a walk or public transport to somewhere a little quieter so you can enjoy a nice meal, minus the rush and without costing a fortune.
Or if you want to save even more, consider making your own food back at your hotel if you are in a self contained apartment or have access to cooking facilities. Or buy simple food items from a supermarket such as fresh bread and sandwich fillings.
Although make an exception for a Guinness pie. A must have London food experience. They can keep their mushy peas though. Seriously… mushy peas on fish and chips. What are they thinking?!
If you are trying to keep your London trip well within budget, there are plenty of great free attractions in London you can enjoy with your family. In fact, travelling with kids means you will find lots to do that doesn’t cost a thing. London has some amazing parks, such as the Natural History Museum, Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens and the Princess Diana Memorial Park.
You can fill days in London just enjoying the free sights and attractions – the perfect way to save money in London.
Many of the attractions and shows in London are cheaper if you book ahead of time online. Not only does this save you time lining up, but can also save you money on the entry prices and tickets. This is not only the case for experience based attractions, such as the London Eye or Madame Tussauds, but also for tickets to West End shows. We booked our Lion King tickets several months in advance and saved compared to the door price.
You can easily save money in London by utilising these 6 simple tips. It all comes down to be prepared, planning ahead and putting more focus into the experience of London rather than having all the fanciest hotels, finest eats and luxury transport. Even the most expensive destination can often become a budget family travel destination with some planning!
Check out our things to do in London with kids recommendations too, for a little extra inspiration for your London trip.