Like a lot of capital cities, London aint cheap (say that bit with a cockney accent for authentisity reasons), I should know as I was born here and call it home.
The aim of this post is to provide information about ways visitors to London can save a bit of cash on things such as travel, food, entertainment and shopping. . I’m not talking £000’s, but every little helps when you’re on the road and eating noodles for the 7th day in a row. I hope you find my tips helpful and informative. If you have any of your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments section at the bottom of the post.
1. Buy an Oyster card
Travel is expensive in London, its unavoidable and only likely to get more expensive. An Oyster card helps. Its clever in that the most it will charge you in one day is the going rate for a one day travel card, if you only do one or two small journeys it will save you more £’s though.
E.g. I live in Ickenham, West London. To go from Ickenham to Uxbridge (2 stops on the train) costs me £1.30 during peak hours with my Oyster card. Without my Oyster card is would cost £2.20. It saves almost £1. Ickenham and Uxbridge are within the save travel zone too. If you move from one zone to another, the price goes up.
The cost of a visitors Oyster card is £13 minimum, but £10 of that is credit, so the card effectively costs you just £3. Shipping charges may also imply however. See http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/ for details.
You can use your card on London’s buses, trams, Tube, DLR, London Overground and National Rail services. But, It’s worth noting certain travel methods are cheaper than others, even if the start and end point of your journey is the same.
E.g. Taking a train from Ickenham to Uxbridge during peak hours costs me £1.40. The bus costs me £1.20.
Use this for all your major tourist attractions – london dungeons, madam tassuards etc. It does what it says on the tin, offers you last minute tickets, but at reduced prices. You may not always get access to the best seats, and your group may not always be able to sit together, but it will save you some cash. Tickets are printable or collectable from the box office.
3. Voucher websites
Use these for shopping and eating. You’ll find vouchers such as ‘241 on main meals’, pretty handy if you like Pizza and Pasta as you’ll often find vouchers of Pizza Express and Ask on the sites. Shopping wise there’ll often be 20% vouchers from H&M, BHS etc.
There’s also a Vouchercloud app for your iphone which is handy too, it tells you all the offers currently valid in your local vicinity. Obviously turn the location setting on for this to work.
4. Get an Orange network phone sim
Orange offer 241 Odeon cinema tickets on a Wednesday, and it even works on Odeon IMAX screens. Orange also offer discounted meals at Pizza Express on Wednesdays too. Orange Wednesdays as they’re known are big money savers!
A ‘pay as you go’ sim card can be free of cost depending on which you choose. Top it up with some credit and then text the word ‘film’ to the number 241 (each text to this number will be 35p, but you’ll save a lot more than this). Your Orange code will be with you within a matter of minutes via text.
All that’s left after receiving your code is to decide what film you want to see, and to take your code to the till when purchasing your tickets. Unfortunately you cant pre book tickets with Orange Wednesday codes.
If you’ve gone to Pizza Express, simply notify your waiter and they will ask for the same code. One code serves all.
5. Know where to drink
Booze like everything in London is expensive. I bought a pint in a bar along the Thames this summer and it cost me almost £5. Ouch! There’s not too many ways to avoid the cost, but here’s two methods I use.
1) Drink in Weatherspoons/Yates pubs. They are freehold and often cost a £ or two less than other bars in the same area. On the downside, these bars often have sticky floors and smell of stale ale. A good place for a power hour or two, not for an entire night though.
2) Find a Walkabout bar and get a Boomerang card. The card will get you money off of both food and drink. There are Walkabout bars located in Shepherds Bush, Covent Garden and Embankment. The card is under a fiver and will be usable upon purchase (saved me near enough £25 on NYE). For further usage, the card will need to registered online, but is valid for roughly 12 months after registration. The Walkabout bars cater for the backpacker type crowd, expect live music, bingo, live sports etc.