5 Tips for Travel on a Budget in the UK

The UK is one of the most popular destinations for travelers from all around the world. One of the main downsides to coming here however, is how expensive it is! So many travelers, particularly budget backpackers, find that coming to the UK takes a huge chuck out of their travel fund, and I’ve met many travelers who have actually bypassed the UK completely purely for that reason! There are many ways however while you are here that you can save a lot of money, and below I’ve compiled my top saving tips for any budget backpacker or independent traveler coming to the country.

Shop at ASDA!

It’s commonly known that eating in is cheaper than eating out in the western world, but where you purchase your groceries can also save you so much money. If you are eating in on a budget anywhere in the UK, then Asda is by far the cheapest supermarket to purchase your food. For those who don’t know, Asda is a huge supermarket chain in the UK. It’s one of those shops that sell just about everything, but more importantly their own-brand food is the cheapest you will find anywhere in the country. When I was a student in Edinburgh I used to do all my shopping at Asda, and I managed to get by on a monthly food & toiletries budget of £30 per month! That being said, I by no means had a balanced diet so please don’t be under any illusions! I used to stock up on lots of pasta, rice, frozen, and tinned food. I rarely ate meat unless it was frozen, and I would only buy fresh fruit/veg from the discounted isle. In order to get by on a similar budget as I did, it is key that you must only buy own-brand products with the green & white packaging. Buying branded products out of Asda will not save you money, and it’s also important to note that they have 2 types of own-branded products, of which the green & white packaged products are the cheapest.

Go out mid-week

In the UK, many people go out mid-week as well as on weekends. Monday’s and Thursday’s are particularly popular, and you will usually find that buying drinks is much cheaper on these days than at a weekend. Every major town and city will have something on in pubs and venues throughout the week, whether it’s the local pub quiz, open mic night, or cheap/free entry into some night clubs. There was a particular night club in Edinburgh that I used to go to regularly offering £1 a drink for any beer, cider, or vodka + mixer, plus free entry. You could literally go out with less than £10 and still have a good night out, so long as you didn’t mind going to the same places most nights. You could always go out in town mid-week while the drink is cheap, and then have drinks in at the hostel or backpacker bars at the weekend. There is no reason why you need to curb your social life in the UK so long as you choose your choice of pub & night wisely.

Vouchers

One tip I have for anyone on a budget in the UK is to pick up a copy of the free Metro newspaper. They usually have them lying around in bus/train stations, or hand them out in the city centres, and more often than not they have at least one voucher inside each to get something for free or on discount. In most cases it’s just a discount or free burger at McDonalds, buy one get one free coffee, or 10% off something at a supermarket etc. I’ve had free cheeseburgers, cookies, and a discount for some make-up. You have to really search through the paper to find them, and I wouldn’t recommend that go looking for the newspaper specially, but if you see one lying around have a flick through and see what you find!

It’s also worth picking up free magazines such as The Skinny, and The List. The Skinny is quite a cool magazine anyways, but sometimes they have vouchers at the back, particularly the student additions (but you don’t need to be a student to use the vouchers!)

Claim your backpacker discount!

This may sound like an obvious one, but don’t be afraid to ask for a backpacker discount everywhere you go. If you have an International Student Card, HI card, Snap Fax, or any other type of card which might get you a discount, then make sure you ask every shop/pub/outlet that you go to! All too many people forget to ask, or think they might not be eligible for a discount, or just go a bit shy and don’t ask. You’d be surprised at the amount of places that offer money off for stuff, but people forget or don’t claim it. Places such as clothing shops, fast food outlets, pubs, clubs, and cinemas are the places most likely to offer backpacker discounts, but anywhere you are spending money you should ask. The worst they can say is no.

Travel on Megabus

When traveling between cities in the UK, the cheapest way to get around is via Megabus. If you book well in advance, and are flexible with your dates, then you can book a journey for as little as £1 one way. I have travelled many times both from London to Edinburgh for £1 one way, although the average price for most journeys’s of that length is about £15-20 with Megabus.

There is no denying that the UK is expensive compared to many countries around the world. There are many ways however that you can still come here without paying a fortune. Following the above tips can help to reduce your costs if you are on a budget, and allow you to spend your money on ways to experience more while you are here.

4 Responses to “5 Tips for Travel on a Budget in the UK”

  1. Great post! It’s a shame that the exchange rate makes Britain so expensive for many traveler, as the country has so many things to offer. I missed Wetherspoon’s in your post 😉 – the cheapest pub chain in the UK (but not always nice pubs). Another source for vouchers is http://www.vouchercodes.co.uk – they release new printable vouchers for 2-for=1 restaurant meals and shop discounts on the website every Tuesday. Lastminute.co.uk is a good source for 50% off theatre tickets, 2-for-1 attractions, dinner&theatre deals, etc.

  2. TravelholicA says:

    I would include NationalExpress as well. They offer sometimes the fun fares which are very low. If you book in advance you can pay less than 10 pounds between the major cities.

    In addition to Asda there is also LIDL where you can buy a lot for a few pounds. Use your hostel’s kitchen and voi-la: money saved!

    I didnt know about the vouchers. Good one! Should have told me that before. 😉 Now I am leaving the UK. Cheers!

  3. Great post! It’s certainly possible for backpackers to have a great time in the UK and there are ways around the expense issue if you lok hard enough!

    I’d throw camping in there as an accomodation option as there are loads of great campsites all over the UK in beautiful places.

    Top Stuff!

    Tom

  4. Jhanella says:

    Nice one. Great advice indeed, especially for those who have not traveled for a long time. Travel expenses is not usually one of the things people think of before they travel, but it becomes a big deal once they get to their destinations if they haven’t planned ahead.

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