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How To Travel Around The UK On A Tight Budget (Yes, It Can Be Done!)

The United Kingdom may only be on a small group of islands. But, it’s one of those places in the world that offers a plethora of history, culture and recreation! Even many Britons prefer to explore their own land than go abroad for a holiday.

That all sounds great but there’s one thing that lets the UK down: it’s an expensive part of the world. Getting around is often higher than many of its European counterparts. Still, you shouldn’t let that get you down. There is always a way around things, and that’s certainly the case here!

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Source: Pixabay

Of course, I’m not advocating that you do anything illegal to raise the money you need. Rather, I’m going to suggest various ways to cut your travelling costs. Some of the following methods you may already know, and others you won’t find in any UK guide books. Ready? Good. Let’s begin!

Book your travel plans early

It doesn’t matter if you’re a visitor to the UK from abroad or you live in Britain. What does matter is you book all your travel plans early! What transport firms won’t often tell you is that it’s cheaper to book things way in advance.

That goes for flights, trains, ferry crossings, even private taxi hire! Thanks to the Internet, it’s possible to arrange all travel plans online well in advance. For some providers, you might need to collect tickets on the day. But, by buying them early, you can save a small fortune on your travel costs!

Don’t assume the obvious

The funny thing about the travelling around the UK is some unlikely methods of travel are cheap! For instance, let’s say that you wish to travel from London to Edinburgh. You might believe that getting on a train is the cheapest way to get there.

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Source: Pixabay

But, what if I told you it’s cheaper to FLY there? As crazy as that sounds, it’s often the case with certain domestic journeys in Britain! When planning long-distance excursions, check prices of ALL methods of transport. It might shock you to learn that the unlikeliest of options could be the cheapest.

Also, if you had to make such a journey by plane, you’ll save a lot of time as well. It takes all day to travel from London to Edinburgh by train. If you went there by plane, you’d reach your destination in just one hour!

Look for discount card schemes

Sometimes it’s possible to get discounts on certain methods of transport. For instance, let’s say your travels take you into the centre of London. Did you know a contactless Oyster card offers cheaper public transport than buying tickets?

Mainline train companies also offer discounts for students, families and the disabled. Check their websites before you travel. After all; you don’t want to pay more money than you need to.

800px Virgin Trains - How To Travel Around The UK On A Tight Budget (Yes, It Can Be Done!)

Source: Wikimedia Commons


Travelling by train? Consider splitting your tickets

Sticking with the train transport theme a moment, I want to share an interesting thought with you. It’s possible to cut train journey costs down by splitting your tickets!

Let’s say you wanted to travel from London to Leeds. Usually, you would assume you only need a single or return ticket from point A to point B.

But, if you buy two or more tickets that stop at certain mainline stations, you can save money! The UK no longer has a national train brand (i.e. British Rail). Instead, private rail operators cover certain areas of Britain.

Often, buying tickets that cross into different train operator “zones” can cost you money! I recommend checking out the Tickety Split website to see how you can save. Yes, as you can see the train fare structure is complex in the UK and the source of much annoyance. But, if you play the system at its own game, you can make some significant savings.

Get a cheap SIM card for your phone

It’s likely you will have a mobile phone with you on your travels. After all; they are cheap to get and almost everyone has a mobile these days! It doesn’t matter if you’re a UK resident or visiting from abroad. You should make sure you use the cheapest mobile tariff for your needs.

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Source: Pixabay

It makes sense to get a free pay as you go SIM. First of all, you aren’t tied to any contracts. Second, you control your mobile spending. That means you won’t go over your travel budget. And, third, it means you are contactable wherever you go.

I recommend doing some online research to find the best SIM only deals. There are several providers in the UK, so it’s worth seeking out the best deal for your needs.

Use the Web to find cheap hotel deals

You might think that a “budget” trip around the UK involves sleeping in a tent in someone’s field. The good news is you can enjoy relative luxury without paying a fortune for it.

Hotels often have promotions to get more customers in during “low” seasons. Looking at their websites is one way to seek out details of the latest promotions. Another is to use websites like booking.com and kayak.co.uk.

The MoneySavingExpert.com site has a useful section on locating cheap hotels. I recommend reading their “Cheap Hotels” guide in full to seek out the best value for your money.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons


Create an itinerary

It’s likely that your time exploring the British Isles is rather limited. That’s why it’s a good idea to create a travel itinerary. In other words, make a list of the must-see places that you wish to visit.

You’ll need to devote a lot of time to the cause because there’s a lot to see and do in the UK! It will also depend on what you’d like to see. For example, do you wish to visit all the usual tourist traps? Or would you rather go off the beaten track?

Whatever your desire to see, research the best locations to visit. Doing so will help you plan where to visit each day. It will help you to save money because you won’t need to make any unnecessary travel arrangements. For instance, you won’t need to visit the same city twice.

Feel free to make notes on paper. But, if you’ve got a smartphone, I recommend making a digital note of your itinerary. That way, you can access those notes online if you lose your phone, for example. If you lose your paper notes, you won’t have a backup to refer to!

A few words on using taxis and cabs in the UK

In major cities, one can use both traditional black cabs and private taxi firms. In suburban areas, only “mini” cabs or taxis are available. You can hail black cabs on the street. But, almost all private hire taxis cannot get accessed the same way.

Instead, you’ll have to call a local taxi firm and they will dispatch a taxi to your location. If possible, I recommend avoiding taxis and cabs if you can help it. In some areas, they are expensive, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. Instead, stick with public transport or use Shank’s Pony (i.e. walk).

800px A TX4 Taxi at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 - How To Travel Around The UK On A Tight Budget (Yes, It Can Be Done!)

Source: Wikimedia Commons

There are many sites you can use to find out how much you’re likely to pay for a taxi fare. That way, you can avoid getting ripped off by any unscrupulous drivers.

How to eat food cheaply

At many points during your travels, you will need to sit down and have something to eat. You’ve got two options. The first is to eat food you’ve prepared yourself, and the second is to eat out at a restaurant.

Option one is by far the cheapest way to survive when you’re out and about. There are many supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s you can visit. Lest we forget the discount chains too (Aldi, Lidl). This option is good if you have a base where you can prepare some basic meals.

Sometimes you might wish to treat yourself. In those cases, option two is best! Now, you might be thinking that dining out in the UK will be an expensive affair but it doesn’t have to be!

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Obviously, you should avoid upmarket restaurants that don’t sell anything for less than £10! There are plenty of pub chains such as Wetherspoons that sell delicious meals at low prices. What’s more, it’s a good way to socialise with friends old and new on your travels.

Of course, you’ve also got the usual fast food restaurants available such as McDonalds. It’s worth checking out pub chain restaurants as they usually offer better value. Some chains even offer “2-for-1” meals. This is useful if you’re travelling with your girlfriend, spouse, or friend, as your bill will become halved!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post today. If you’ve got any questions or tips to share, feel free to contact us. See you soon and good luck on your travels!

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