Budget London? Isn’t that an oxymoron? The British capital isn’t exactly known as a cheap destination. When I determined Istanbul probably wasn’t the best place for me to spend the month of October, I was afraid switching gears to London would completely kill my RTW budget. I did wind up spending about $200 more than planned. But that was about the difference in the cost of my Airbnb rental from city to city – everything else pretty much evened out. Read on to see exactly what I spent on a month in London.
Table of Contents
flight to London $203.93 Stansted Express $24.66 one-way train to East Dulwich $7.92 Oystercard $193.22 round-trip train to Bath $69.30
30 nights in a private room off Airbnb $670
1 month’s worth groceries at Sainsbury’s $147.32 1 breakfast at Athens airport $8.99 1 breakfast at Benugo $5.78 1 breakfast at Society Cafe $5.58 1 breakfast at Blackbird Bakery $4.45 1 lunch at Athens airport $6.69 1 lunch at Royal Oak pub $12.33 1 lunch at Herman ze German $8.86 6 lunches at train station $42.85 1 lunch at Pret a Manger $8.90 1 lunch at Borough Market $4.94 1 lunch at Queen’s Arms pub $22.87 1 lunch at Maltby Street Market $12.36 1 afternoon tea at The Wallace Collection $25.88 1 dinner from M&S $13.82 1 dinner at Byron $20.85 1 dinner at Pret a Manger $6.37 1 dinner at Sally Lunn’s House $18.40 1 dinner at Cafe TPT $9.81 1 dinner at The Golden Hind $17.11 2 snacks at Benugo $6.88 1 snack at Toi & Moi Cafe $2.20 1 snack at The Lodge $5.93 1 snack at train station $3.71
Audioguide tour of Houses of Parliament $24.01 Audioguide tour of Westminster Abbey $24.88 Sherlock Holmes Museum $18.66 Alternative London street art tour $12.44 Gin Social at Graphic Bar Soho $7.36 Wicked ticket at Apollo Victoria Theatre $21.46 Liar Liar Square Mile tour with Fun London Tours $12.26 (Note: I received a discounted rate on this tour as part of a group of bloggers.) Jane Austen Centre $13.49 Sipsmith Distillery tour $30.66 Soho Murder Mile tour $18.33 Churchill War Rooms $23.49 Guided tour of Globe Theatre $18.54 Kensington Palace $22.25 Literary Pub Crawl tour $29.67 drinks at Marquis of Granby pub $5.87 drinks at Soho Theatre $5.69 drinks at the Pig & Fiddle $6.24
2 drinks at Athens airport $7.98 restock shampoo at Lush $10.97 replace clothes at H&M $51.04 restock toiletries at Sainsbury’s $2.56 restock contact solution at Boots $5.44 gifts/souvenirs at December 25 $8.93 restock toiletries at Boots $6.17 postage on absentee ballot $1.64 restock batteries at Natural History Museum $6.30
Total: $1988.24 Average Spent Per Day: $63.11
How I Saved
- Staying in Zone 2 While it did require spending more time on public transport, accommodations were considerably cheaper in Zone 2 of the city than they would have been in the more central Zone 1. From my Airbnb in East Dulwich, London Bridge and the Shard were 20 minutes away. Being a bit further from the city center also meant going out was very intentional. I probably would have been guilty of more impulse purchases if the center had been closer at hand.
- Utilitarian eating You may have noticed I had a lot of meals picked up from the train station or a Pret a Manger to be eaten unceremoniously in transit. As fun as it is to engage with other cultures through their food, traveling on a shoestring budget just doesn’t lend itself to making every meal an experience. Takeaway sandwches from coffee chains during the week meant having the funds for a nicer pub dinner on the weekend.
- Planning entertainment in advance When I decided to visit London instead of Istanbul, I knew my budget had a cap. I spent a day before my flight with my nose in a notebook, sketching out what activities I wanted to do when, and of course, how much they would cost. I booked all my tours in advance so that budget was used up and couldn’t be touched during the month. Having a more rigidly planned itinerary from the moment I landed made it easier not to get carried away with impulsive spending.
- Knowing where to buy groceries Because I studied abroad in England, I already had some familiarity with the local brands. I knew going in M&S would be considerably more expensive than Sainsbury’s. Luckily, there was a large Sainsbury’s supermarket practically in my backyard. But had that not been the case, I would have probably sought one out.
- Planning day trips around Couchsurfing availability I was very glad to get to have an overnighter in my old stomping grounds of Bath. But if I hadn’t secured a Couchsurfing host for that visit, I wouldn’t have gone. I also sent out a few requests to hosts in Scotland, but those went unanswered, so I amended my plans to stay in town.
What other European cities can you explore on less than $75 a day? View my full budget breakdown for 2 weeks in Barcelona.