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Travel Money Tips for Backpackers in the UK

20th October 2017

Are you planning a backpacking holiday and wondering how you might be able to save money on your trip? Jordan Smith is from the Gold Coast in Queensland, but has been travelling the world on extended-stay trips on and off for the last few years. We asked him to share his best travel money saving tips for each of the regions he has been to. So far he’s told us about his Central America  and North America adventures, and today he shares his tips for travelling the United Kingdom.

How long did you spend in the UK?

Collectively I spent about 2 months in the UK, but I went back and forth between Europe and the UK a bit and used England as a bit of a base for my other travels.

How did you make your British Pounds last your whole time there?

I still do a bit of work for my Australian employer remotely, but during my time in the UK I did a few things to try make more money or to stretch my budget out as much as I could…

I spent a fair bit of my time in the UK based in London, and with so many Aussies over there it was easy to save some money by either sharing a hostel room with friends, or staying with family that live there. I found accommodation to be the biggest killer for my budget, while food and drink costs weren't too bad, so I definitely tried to save money where I could when it came to a place to sleep.

I spent Christmas and NYE in London and during that time I rented a room in a sharehouse for a couple of weeks. A lot of Aussies and other travellers head home over the holidays and 'rent' their rooms out during that time so they don't have to pay rent while they're away. It was a great way to explore more of London and meet new people.

At one stage I was in between Europe trips with different groups of friends and I wasn't sure what to do with my time. I couldn't afford to live in London while I figured it out, so I found an opportunity on a work exchange website and headed off to Dorset for four weeks. I worked on a farm with about 200 sheep, helped make local 'Dorset' cider and did a few random bits and pieces - construction work, maintenance, gardening etc. It was MUCH cheaper living there than in London, and it was great to see more of the countryside.


So what are your top 10 money saving tips for travelling in the UK?

1. Use public transport. Most accept contactless payment which will charge you the most cost-effective fare depending on how many times you use it during the day or week.

2. Also use ride-sharing apps. If you're travelling with friends then a London black cab with a fixed fare can also work out cheaper than public transport.

3. Look out for daily specials at restaurants - there is so much competition that it is easy to find a deal on food and drinks.

4. Certain museums have days on which they don't charge entry fees - just check out their websites to find out when and save yourself some coin.

5. If you can, avoid visiting on the weekends (especially in London), as many hostels, hotels etc. double (or even triple) their prices.

6. Grab a copy of 'Time Out' magazine on a Tuesday from any Tube station to see what is on for the week. You'll also find information on a lot of free activities.

7. If you want to see a musical head to Leicester Square and try get a last-minute ticket, or tickets to an afternoon showing - they will be a lot cheaper than what you would normally pay.

8. Try to buy your train tickets at least a day in advance as the prices usually increase after this. For example, I bought a ticket for the 3 hour train ride to Dorset 2 days in advance and it cost around £15. I missed that train and had to buy one the same day and it cost me £60!

9. Large bus (coach) services are generally the cheapest ways to get around the UK - some even have power outlets and Wi-Fi onboard. They also have international links throughout Europe.

10. Lastly, if you want to save money in the UK try to minimise the amount of time you spend in big cities. London is amazing, but it is not budget-friendly. There is so much more to the UK than just London, so get out and see it!

What is the most extreme thing you did to save money while in the UK?

Whilst not necessarily extreme, the best and most rewarding money-saving thing I did in the UK was when I visted The Shard. It is one of the most recognisable towers in London and has great views of the city.

There is an observation deck on Level 79+ and the admission fee is a whopping £24, BUT they have a restaurant open to the public on level 52. You just have to spend £20 per person (and be dressed smartly - shorts are not allowed, as I learnt the hard way) to essentially get the same view, a couple of very nice drinks and some exquisite food. All of this for less than the entry fee to the Observation deck. Plus, it was nice to feel a little bit fancy after travelling on a budget for a while!

Jordan has just surprised his family by returning to Australia unplanned after his recent travels to Israel and Palestine. He is sharing his top backpacking stories and tips with us through a series of interviews, so keep an eye out, because next time he shares his travel money saving tips for Europe.

In the meantime, if you need any help sorting out British Pounds (GBP) or Euro's (or any other European currency) for your backpacking holiday, just give us a shout and visit us in store today! 


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