6 Ways to Save Some Pounds in London
Make the most of your time abroad by stretching your money a little further.
I think almost everyone knows how pricey London is – is it the most expensive city in the world now? Not sure, but probably. So, when I decided to study abroad there, I started saving money ASAP. I worked 2 jobs the summer before, and saved as much as I could. Once I arrived in London, I soon realized that although my savings was helpful, London was a seriously expensive city. So, I did some research and learned some tips on how to save some money while I was there. I wish I knew these things before I arrived, so I am going to share them with those who are hoping or planning to study abroad in London. Here are my Top 6 Tips for Saving Some Pounds in London..
1. Invest in a 16-25 Railcard
Most likely if you are planning on studying abroad in London, you are probably planning on doing a bit of traveling, some of which might be within the UK (side note: I totally recommend traveling within the UK in addition to traveling Europe – many people forget that Great Britain has a lot to offer as well!). The best way to travel within the UK is definitely by train. There are several major train stations in London that can take you all the way down south to the beautiful sea town of Brighton to all the way north to the amazing city of Edinburgh in Scotland. If you do travel the UK this way, you should definitely invest in a 16-25 Railcard. The card is exactly what it sounds like, a railcard for people who are 16-25 years old. It’s really easy to get online, all you need is your passport information to prove your age. It costs about 30 pounds to get, which sounds pricey, but in your 4 to 5 months living and traveling to and from London, it essentially pays for itself. It gets you 30% off all UK trail fares (I traveled to and from Scotland for 27 pounds!) You can also link the railcard to your Oyster card, which is the metro card you use for the Tube and London, and get even cheaper fares there. All you have to do is make sure you have the card with you when you travel, in case an attendant asks to see it. Cheap travel = awesome when you are a poor college student.
2. Check out the Uni Pubs
If you are studying abroad in London, you will either be at a British University or you will be in some sort of study abroad program based in London. If you are at a British University (often just called “Uni” in London), there is most likely a pub on campus. Pub life is huge in London, and frankly a lot of fun. Pubs aren’t generally very expensive, but going every day or every other day could add up. Uni pubs, though, are super cheap because they cater directly to students. Take advantage of the pubs at your Uni, and if you don’t go to a Uni, make friends with people who do! Oftentimes, you can get into a Uni pub if you have a student ID as well, so make sure to have one with you at all times!
3. Use Your Student ID!
Speaking of student ID’s, USE IT! A lot of places in London – whether it be retail stores, restaurants, or entertainment venues – offer student prices. It doesn’t hurt to ask your server or a sales associate if there are student discounts or prices. A lot of the times there are, and they just don’t advertise it. So, 2 things to take away from this tip: make sure you always have your student ID and make sure you always ask if there are student prices!
4. British Groupons
You most likely have heard of or used Groupon. But, did you know Groupon exists in the UK? Well if you didn’t guess by now, it does! There are Groupon offers for just about anything – high tea for two, fish & chips meals, classes in yoga, etc. But (in my opinion) the BEST Groupons are the ones that offer bus tours. There are some amazing historical sites, like Bath & Stonehenge, that are just a few hour bus ride away. Oftentimes, these tour companies offer bus tours on Groupon for half the price, which includes the bus ride and some times admission into different historical attractions. UK Groupon is definitely worth signing up for. Once signed up, they e-mail you about once a week with some pretty awesome deals, so be sure to check it out!
5. ‘Day Of’ Theatre Tickets
One of the best parts of London is the live theatre and musicals that are showing at almost every corner. London is one of the major theatre hubs in the world, and whether or not you are into that sort of thing, I think it is mandatory for everyone to see at least one show while in London. Since these shows are so well-reviewed and are truly amazing productions, they do come at a hefty price. What a lot of people might not know though, is that a lot of productions have special “day of show” priced tickets. Depending on which show you want to see, there are different rules and procedures for getting these cheap tickets. Some only sell tickets in the morning, and some only sell the tickets an hour or so before the show starts. Either way, it is worth researching because paying half the price for an award winning show is a total win. Also check out websites dedicated to cheap theatre tickets like lastminute.com. All the theatres want to do is sell out of shows, and they are willing to sell them for real cheap – especially to students like you!
6. Walk EVERYWHERE
Although I mentioned how the tube and buses could be a bit cheaper earlier, and to be honest the Tube system is amazing – fast, efficient, mostly clean – London is a very walkable city. Like in a lot of major cities with metro systems, the tube map can be a bit deceiving. A lot of major monuments and spots in the city are mere minutes from each other just by walking. Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Picadilly Circus are all MINUTES (and I seriously mean just a few minutes) from each other when you walk. Walking is 100% free and also provides great exercise (especially if you are drinking a lot more cider than usual…). I made some British friends while in London, and they always said that if something was more than a 30 minute walk away, then take public transportation. Otherwise, just walk. I stood by that rule my whole time there, and I definitely saved a lot of money that way!
I hope these tips prove to be helpful to those trying to save some money while studying in London! My last bit of advice is to enjoy your time there, and be wise when spending, but don’t let it drive you crazy. This is most likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you want to make the most of it! Have fun, be smart, and enjoy the most amazing city in the world 🙂
To read more about my time in London, please take a look at my blog.