UK on a Budget? Part 1

Have you ever been bitten by the Travel Bug? I was infected back in 2006, my husband in 2008. We both had major travel flair ups in 2012 and we both are suffering again. Or should I say our budget is suffering.

I’ve had the delusion in my head since we decided to go to the UK that we could do the UK on a budget. I guess technically we are on a budget, it’s just becoming an expensive one.

I’m starting to think of this trip as a Debt Repayment release valve. It’s a little embarrassing that after 8 months of gazelle intensity, I need a break from my debt freedom journey. I’m expecting my journey to take another 16 months.

Embarrassed or not, I’m labeling this vacation a celebration of three important things. 1) I have a job, that’s awesome and I’d like to celebrate it. 2) We will be celebrating Hubs’ birthday while we are gone. We haven’t been able to do anything for him the last few years and this is being used as a make-good. 3) We celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary in August, so why not celebrate in England!

Gosh I can’t wait to go.

How will we pay for it?

Money to pay for the trip is coming from 3 sources. 1) Our designated Travel Fund; 2) Our paychecks over the next 2 months; and 3) a very generous grant from the Awesome Parents’ Foundation.* There will be no debt incurred on this vacation. Certain expenses may be charged, but the Credit Card bill will be paid in full when we return

(*We have awesome parents and they are enabling our travel habit…. enablers)

What we know so far

Airfare: The grant was enough to cover our airfare. Not paying for airfare meant this trip was a lot more manageable.

Lodging: $1407.  10 nights with AirBnb. Staying in London is a large part of this expense. We are working out the kinks of possibly staying with family for 2 nights in London. If that works out, this will drop to $1101.

Car Rental: $264.02. Too expensive for my liking for a 3 day rental. I tried my best to get a deal. Don’t worry, we won’t be driving in London.

Total Spent: $1671

What we don’t know

Gas: Estimate $100. I can’t imagine we’ll burn through this much petrol, but it’s expensive and I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I’d rather budget high.

Activities: Estimate $200. So much of what we want to do and see in London and Scotland is free. For expenses, we are planning to go on the London Eye (Hubs’ request) and I’m sure we’ll find other ways to spend money. We aren’t planning to see any shows,  but if we do, this budget is out the window.

Food & Alcohol: Estimate: $600. This will be interesting. I’m emotionally preparing myself for a lot of food cost. I’d like to go to markets and grocery stores and prepare our own food, but we’ll see. I can’t imagine spending this much money on food for 2 people over 10 days, but it’s London and the exchange rate isn’t favorable. I really hope I’m wrong on this one.

Public Transport: Maximum $180.  London Tube, Thames Clipper and the Emirates Air line. I don’t expect to max out our Oyster Cards every day, but just in case.

Airport Transfers:  Estimate $95  Three airport transfers. Sadly, we are in and out of three different airports so we can’t benefit from return fares. We may be able to get this down but time is money. We’ll see.

Estimate: $1175

Total Estimated Trip Cost: $2846

Am I missing anything?  Do any of my numbers seem way off? 


17 thoughts on “UK on a Budget? Part 1

  1. My reward for paying off my student loans is going to the UK. I haven’t been, but it seems like you hit everything. That’s great you don’t have to pay off airfare! It certainly shaves off a good chunk from the cost.

  2. I have a UK trip in the future. Probably Fall of 2015, if the vacation and timing lines up. I think it’s hilarious that you call your parents help a “grant”. Gotta love the parents pushing the travel-bug agenda!

    • The UK is so wonderful, but spendy! Glad it’s on your list!
      They actually dictated the destination in a way. The initial plan was to go to Ireland, but Hubs has Scottish heritage so they couldn’t understand why we weren’t going there. I love England, Scotland and Ireland equally, so I didn’t care!

    • Paris is more affordable than London if you can avoid the fancy fancy restaurants. Also, the exchange rate is more favorable on the Euro.

      I plan to keep track of my spending in the UK. Hopefully I budgeted high. Either way, it’ll give you an idea of London food spending!

  3. I love the UK. I lived in Sheffield for a while and have been to London a ton of times. Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in the world too (not sure if that’s your Scotland plan).

    If you really want to hit the sight seeing highlights, you might want to look into a City Pass. I’ve used them in both London and Edinburgh and those are two of the best cities for them (especially Edinburgh since so much stuff is on the Royal Mile).

    I hope you have a terrific trip! Hitting the debt repayment stress relief valve is totally necessary sometimes.

    • I love it too! I’ve been to Sheffield, but only through the train station. Our trip ends in Edinburgh. I don’t think I could go to Scotland and not go to Edinburgh. It’s such a cool city.

      I didn’t know Edinburgh had a City Pass. I’ll check that out. Thanks!

    • It’s an excellent foundation. Unfortunately for you, this chapter only authorizes grants to one charity… Me and the Hubs. Please consult with your local parental chapter for opportunities 🙂

      Hopefully the expenses work out at or under budget!

  4. London is a second home – lived there for a year as I got my masters (and racked up my student loans :P)

    If you like pizza, you HAVE to make a trip out to Brixton to Franca Mancos – amazing. Brixton in it of itself is quite a cool place – a little sketchy but awesome.

    Borough Market on the weekends is amazing and has tons of great food. If you like coffee, go seek out Monmouth Coffee.

    Windsor is a lovely place if you like castles and history. The park there is awesome too.

    Sigh, I could go on and on!

  5. Hi, kapitalust alerted me to your upcoming trip. I am sure you will enjoy it.

    Some brief costs to help you out with planning:

    petrol (not ‘gas’ LOL)

    £1.30/Litre – approx. £6/UK Gallon. You might think AARGH = expensive, but our cars generally do 35-70mpg. If you get a diesel rental car (don’t put petrol in it by mistake!) it is very efficient, you should get 50+ mpg. no I am not kidding you. My last car did 68mpg


    eating out is expensive, but there are good budget options e.g. pizza at “franco manca” ca. £6-7. also Nando’s for chicken. re. markets there are plenty in London and you will love them. I haven’t lived in the US since 2010 so I don’t know what prices are like now, but when I was there, I found that groceries were much cheaper in England. You can also go to small Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores (mini supermarkets for city centres) where groceries are pretty cheap. We are a family of 2+small lad and we spend ca. £220 per month on groceries

    trips et al.
    research through ****** to find super deals on trips. maybe you can get a deal on the london eye and that sort of thing. this website is indispensable for basically all sorts of deals, coupons (vouchers) etc.

    feel free to contact me for any other details


    • Thanks for the tips! I’ll have to check out when we go back. The Eye is so expensive- I tried to talk Hubs out of it, but he wasn’t having it. Next time I guess.

  6. Hello, theFIREstarter calling from (near) London here! See you posted this a few weeks back so hoping this isn’t too late…

    You’ll get about 1 tank of petrol with $100 so depends on how far you are driving and the cars fuel efficiency. Any idea on the type of car you hired? Are you driving from London all the way to Edinburgh or getting train part of the way? Let me know and I can give an accurate estimate.

    Activities: as long as you don’t get suckered into doing the things that cost money you’ll be fine. This is easier said than done tho! We recently went to Edinburgh and didn’t spend anything on the normal tourist activities as it is so nice to just walk around and soak in the sights. Although… The fringe festival was on, so spent a small bit on seeing shows and alcohol… Whoops 🙂

    Food: Just worked out your food budget is £18 per person per day. Oh dear 🙂
    I will be interested to hear if and how you stuck to that. You will have to eat in and make sandwiches for lunch practically every day to hit that budget, and keep the alcohol to a minimum. Food from supermarkets isn’t particularly expensive but to do that constantly for ten days will require meticulous planning and superhuman self discipline, and if you have one meal out with drink at a cheap but nice restaurant you daily budget will be gone. We found Edinburgh to be the same. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but good luck and like I say I’ll be interested to see how you got on!

    Public transport: central London where most of the sights are is eminently walkable. You’ll see more of the city this way as well so I’d try to work out what you are seeing each day and plan ahead so everything is roughly in the same area, so you only have to get say 2 tubes per day Max.

    Not sure where you are staying or flying to/from so again hard to say, but sounds like a fair estimate as long as you avoid the private taxi cabs.

    Have a great holiday and keep it frugal.

    • Too late 😦 I was nearly on my way home! Next time, I’ll definitely ask for tips earlier. I got some great info!
      The food tally will be interesting. All but 1 day we had breakfast provided and we didn’t go fancy. We will see!
      Thanks for the tips! We had a wonderful time!

      • Glad you had a good time. Yep defo need to ask for advice early on t’internet. I’ve done a few posts on my blog and got some great advice after I’d already “done” what I was writing about… there are some knowledgable people out there in InternetLands! It’s great!

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