If you take a look at the Daily Currency Converter, you’ll see that one British pound will cost you $1.68 Canadian today. Back on June 23 it was $1.89. You’re probably aware of what happened on June 23. Who knows where it will go from here, but if you’re looking to go to London in the relative near future, your budget will stretch a wee bit further now. And here are couple of tips one might find useful.
Since WestJet started flying to Gatwick airfares to London have been pretty good. Right now the best fares from Halifax are in Sept.-Oct. with quite a few in the $500’s. In July-Aug. there are fares as low as $627 (with two connections) and $799 non-stop on Air Canada in late summer. Fares from other Maritime airports are a bit higher. Here are a few examples:
Halifax – London (Sept. 26-Oct. 4) $593 WestJet
Charlottetown – London (Oct. 9-17) $662 WestJet
Fredericton – London (Oct 4-12) $632 WestJet
If you’ve got some flexibility it’s a good idea to check out the lodging situation before buying your plane ticket. Check hotel booking sites with a flexible date search to see trends. Also, well-priced, well-reviewed vacation apartments tend to get booked up long in advance so you might want to choose dates based on a good one’s availability.
Premier Inn and Travelodge are two UK chains aimed at budget travellers. Many hotel chains offer periodic sales so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for those. Often these sale rates require advance purchase. However, if you can’t find any great hotel deals and find yourself shelling out major cash for accommodation, be sure to check the current promotions so you can at least accumulate a nice bunch of points or free night certificate etc. to use in the future.
A good way to save money in London is to stay longer. That might sound a bit odd but staying longer makes renting an apartment a great option. You can save by making some of your own meals. Apartments often accommodate more people so you can divide the cost among the group. Many hotels don’t have a lot of rooms to accommodate families so an apartment is a good choice for that reason as well.
Days Out Guide 2 for 1 Deals
If you’re reading this and planning a solo trip to London, I apologize, because my best budget tip involves even numbers of people. The ongoing Days Out Guide 2 for 1 Promotion is a terrific money-saver for London sightseeing. Current attractions available 2for1 include Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye, Churchill War Rooms, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, and many more.
In order to take advantage of the 2for1 deals during your stay you must have either 1) train tickets both into and out of London or 2) a paper Travelcard purchased from a National Rail station. The Travelcard is for using the Underground and buses. Here is more info from Days Out Guide. The London Toolkit website has info as well.
This means if you’re arriving at Gatwick you can purchase train tickets to London and back at the airport rail station (for either the Thameslink or Southern train, or the more expensive Gatwick Express.) Print the vouchers from the Days Out website (or pick up a booklet with vouchers from a rail station) and present your train tickets at the attractions to get your 2for1 discount. Be sure to note any expiry dates for the vouchers and check back later to see if any new ones have been added.
If you’re arriving at Heathrow you’ll likely take the London Underground into the city. Once you arrive you will need to purchase a paper Travelcard from a rail station (not an Underground station) in order to get the 2for1 deals. You can purchase either a 1 day or 7 day Travelcard. Most of the tourist attractions are in Zones 1-2 so you’ll request that version of the card. The 7 day Travelcard requires a passport sized photo so remember to bring one with you. To get a 2for1 admission, the Travelcard must be valid on that day.
The usual way of paying for Underground or bus transportation in the city is to buy an Oyster Card and load money onto the card. One can also load a Travelcard onto the Oyster, but a travelcard in that form won’t qualify for the 2for1 deals.
London has many wonderful museums and a lot of them are free! Some also include free guided tours. Here are just a few to check out:
There is a lot more to cover on the topic of London on a budget such as theatre discounts and walking tours etc. but I will talk about those in a future post.