4 January 2016

How to travel cheaply OUT of London (aka shoehorn more adventures into a London budget)

Living in London and travelling is expensive. It’s sadly a fact that we can’t get away from, but over the years I have learnt a few creative tips and tricks that allow for a few extra quid in my pocket (usually then wasted on takeaway coffee and local delicacies if I’m being honest) and as many adventures as we can fit into a bulging calendar.

A pound saved is a pound that can be spent on champagne later, amiright? I’ve always been of the opinion that the less I pay to enormous conglomerate companies, the more I can spend whilst enjoying our destination. A nicer hotel, a beautiful meal, an extra experience that we stumble upon. You know the drill...

How to travel cheaply OUT of London (aka shoehorn more adventures into a London budget)

TSB contacted me about working together again to spill a few more of our favourite savings secrets that enable us to gallivant around the globe, but this time they asked for a gathering of tricks we use in order to budget and save money travelling and living in an expensive city (None of the mentioned travel links are sponsored in any way, I’m simply sharing them as I love them and recommend them often…)




First thing to do:
Clear your cookies & go incognito in browsing.

Secondly:
Book in advance wherever possible or very last minute.

Thirdly:
Research, research, research - but not necessarily via a book that you have to lug around the place, but use Twitter keyword searches and the genius that is Pinterest. Seriously, it is an awesome catalog of travel specific information.

How to travel cheaply OUT of London (aka shoehorn more adventures into a London budget)

Trains - UK

Railcards
These babies pay for themselves over time – we have a couple, including a ‘two together’ railcard that enables Mr Kiwi & and I to travel, er, together – and managed to save the cost of the annual card within the first trip we took. Since then each time we get the itch of wanderlust, we just pop onto the website and plug in the destination. We've even done this on a spare day as a case of train roulette - picked a random station the day before, looked into the destinations that fascinate us and then pack our bags for a jolly.

The Trainline.com
Hilariously cheesy TV commercials aside, it is possible to book great discounts up to the day before you travel. You can collect the tickets for free from your nearest train station.
EXCEPT for: Express trains to airports. These I have generally found to be cheaper booking them direct - and it means that the journey won't include those annoying suburban services. Use those travelcards here again as you can save massively.

** TOP TIP** If travelling by train google '2 for 1 deals' and the name of the place you want to visit - you may be pleasantly surprised at the deals you can find! Just be wary of non-official sites... The 2 for 1 sites I use issue a voucher for you to print and take to the venue when purchasing your tickets.

Trains - Europe

Local Train Companies
We used the SCNF in France, and TrenItalia when we traipsed the length of Italy, booking each train in advance by perusing the websites set to English & collecting the tickets at the station each time. It was easy peasy.

Rail Europe
Fantastic for booking inter-country trains across Europe, and gathering information on which train companies service each country.

Eurostar
Sign up to their newletter for advance warning of their best fares and random sales. They also have a points-based booking membership scheme which can be awesome for frequent Eurostar travellers. Don't forget to check out the higher class fares - they can often be cheaper and include a meal.

How to travel cheaply OUT of London (aka shoehorn more adventures into a London budget)

Flights
First of all, clear your cookies & go incognito. Really important.
Fancy a last minute jaunt but undecided as to destination? Type ‘everywhere’ into skyscanner.com as your destination.
EXCEPT – always check the airline’s own website before pressing the ‘book’ button – you can often find a better deal as they aren’t paying fees to a third party.

Accommodation:

Booking.com and Lastminute.com.
There are several booking engines but my two favorites are the above.
EXCEPT – always read the TripAdvisor reviews and check the hotel’s own website before pressing the ‘book’ button – you can often find a better deal as they aren’t paying fees to a third party. When we stayed in Tromso, Norway we not only saved money, but wrangled half board in a notoriously expensive country and were also upgraded as a birthday treat by booking directly with the hotel.

AirBNB:
Can be an awesome example of the new 'sharing economy' by hiring a room or the whole place of a truly local apartment, you can enjoy a taste of normalcy and the flexibility of having more facilities than a faceless hotel room.
EXCEPT – always, always treat the place like your own home (we won't hire anything but the entire apartment) and make sure that the listing has several, recent, positive reviews.

Experiences
Sign up to the local Groupon or Wowcher type site – in New York we managed to wrangle 3-hour Greenwich Village foodie tour including tastings for $10 each.

Have you discovered any neat tricks?

TSB are a local ethical bank, and their mantra is to borrow well and be sensible with money and as such, their latest campaign is all about how to budget and save money in an expensive city. They kindly sponsored this post in order to keep our travel fund topped up for future fun and blog posts coming your way. 

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