How We Saved Money on Our UK Trip

/ posted in: travel

I’m just back from my trip to the UK with my mother.  I’m going to doing a series of posts about the trip on Fridays in time for British Isles Friday.

Airfare

When I started looking for flights from the U.S. to London I was getting quotes of $1200 – $1500.  Then I checked on Icelandair.  That airline doesn’t show up on websites like Kayak.  I knew about it because a group tour I was on in high school used it.

Because our travel dates were flexible, we were able to take advantage of a great deal.  We flew from Pittsburgh to Boston to Reykavik to London for $300.  For that price I was concerned that our seats may have been on the outside of the plane but they weren’t.  The return trip was $550 so we flew round trip for $850!

That price includes 2 checked bags for no additional fees too.

Icelandair advertises stopovers too.  You can stay in Iceland for up to 7 days with no increase in airfare.  I wanted to spend a few days playing with horses and soaking in geothermal pools but we couldn’t make our schedules work this trip.

They only fly from limited places in the U.S. but if you can get to those cities it is worth looking into.

Lodging

I was traveling with my mother and not the husband so I wanted separate rooms.  I love to sleep and I snore and she is an insomniac so that would work best.

London hotel rooms are expensive so we weren’t going to get two.  I checked into AirBnB.  We ended up finding a one bedroom flat with a pull out couch for $150 a night.  That’s way more than I like to spend on lodging but it was cheap for London.  It wasn’t in the center of the city but it was near the Tower of London on the east side of town.  It was less than 5 minutes to an Underground stop (Tower Hill) so we could get anywhere.

In Bath we got a one bedroom suite in a house about a mile from the center of town for $122 a night.  It had a pull out couch too and a wonderful bath tub.

Trains

This is a place where we could have saved more by planning ahead but I didn’t want to be tied to a time that we had to get on a train.  We bought our train tickets on a day of travel.  If being scheduled doesn’t bother you, you can google train times and buy tickets in advanced at a reduced rate.

London Pass

We debated this one for a while.  The London Pass is a card you buy that lets you get into a lot of attractions at a free or reduced rate.  I’m generally skeptical of “deals” like this but I sat down and figured out what attractions it covers that we were planning on going to.  I added up their admission prices and that total was more than the cost of the pass so we bought it.  If you aren’t planning on doing a lot of touristy stuff, your mileage may vary.

It helped psychologically too.  We are cheap people.  Having to pay every time we went somewhere would have worn me down.  Flashing a card and pretending we were getting in free was much better.

I just added it all up to see if we saved.  We had a six day London Pass that cost £116.  We got a 10% discount so it was £104.40. (Google for discount codes.  They seem to be available often. )  We would have spent £112.50 on regular admissions.  That isn’t a huge savings but it was easier than having to pay each time.

You can get an Oyster Travel Card with the London pass. We didn’t.  We got a separate Visitor Oyster Card for the Underground.  The card that you can buy with the Pass is limited to travel in a few zones.  Most of the touristy stuff is in zone 1.  We knew that we were going to be taking the Underground from Heathrow which is zone 6.  We could have bought it at the first stop but it just easier to not have to negotiate everything when we’d been traveling for most of a day. We had a travel card preloaded with enough money to get us to our flat.