Best Ways to Save on UK Travel

City of London financial district with Royal Exchange building, London, England, UK
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

You can save a bundle while making the most of all that England, Scotland, and Wales have to offer. Sometimes the challenge of trimming the fat from your budget can actually be part of the fun.

01 of 08

Cheap Eats in the UK

Street sign of Fish and Chips in a food stall, Camden Market
Bikeworldtravel / Getty Images

The cost of food can put a big dent in a small travel budget. But if you are clever, you can keep costs down, or even eat for free now and then. And you don't have to go on a diet to do it. There are plenty of hearty options for both carnivores and vegetarians, along with opportunities to see how the locals chow down. Go ethnic, go native, splurge on lunch.

02 of 08

Save Money on UK Accommodations

Large Studio in secured building, Airbnb UK
 Airbnb, Inc

Don't let the UK's reputation for expensive accommodations put you off visiting. You really don't need to spend $200 or more for a night in a grim and mediocre hotel when there are other options available. Be a flexible and confident negotiator and you'd be surprised at how far your money can go. 

03 of 08

Discount Passes for UK Visitor Attractions

Big Ben and the houses of parliament in London
BrianAJackson / Getty Images

Discount passes for overseas visitors, offering free, unlimited entry to hundreds of UK landmarks and attractions, are a great way to save money on UK travel. Besides cutting costs, prepaid passes usually allow you to jump the waiting line at busy sites. Most also include a few extras, like useful guidebooks, maps, and apps. And you don't have to keep up with changing exchange rates - you know what you've spent before you go.

04 of 08

Buy a BritRail Pass for Cheap Train Travel

Edinburgh train station
John Lawson/Belhaven/Getty Images

Train travel in the UK is faster, cheaper and easier than long-distance road travel and British Rail travel with a BritRail Pass makes a lot of sense if your vacation plans involve crisscrossing the UK from one major city or region to another. A BritRail Pass is a prepaid pass sold outside the UK, you have to buy it before you leave home. It's valid for unlimited UK rail travel, during a specified period that you choose. It's especially useful for touring since you'll likely want few round trip tickets and one-way fares are often much more expensive than what the British call "return" fares.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

UK Discount Outlets

Swindon Designer Outlet
 Swindon Designer Outlet

If you are a member of the tribe who can't travel without time outs for retail therapy, recent UK shop prices can seem discouraging. Don't despair. Discount designer outlets, factory outlets, and brand outlet shopping malls are popping up all over the UK. There are some excellent buys on designer and high street goods as well as inexpensive restaurants and coffee shops. Some discount malls even have extra destination features like landscaped gardens or shuttles to local attractions.

06 of 08

Megatrain - Cheap Train Travel to Top UK Destinations

Aerial view of London South Bank with railroad junction and Borough Market
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Low-cost travel on Megatrain and Megabus services saves quite a bit if you're flexible and committed. Be flexible about travel times and you might be able to score tickets to top UK destinations for as little as £1 plus a 50p booking fee. It may mean traveling earlier, or later, than you originally planned but with such low prices, how can you argue? And as for commitment? Well, once you've bought it, you're on it. You need to commit to the specific time and train service you've purchased. Try an earlier or later train or bus and you'll have to pay the full fare.

07 of 08

Hop on a Bus for Cheap, Comfortable UK Travel

National Express Bus
 National Express

Buses and coaches, the European term for inter-city bus services, are the cheapest way to get around the UK. Maybe you haven't taken a bus since your college days but don't worry, they are much more comfortable than they used to be. Some even have onboard restrooms and snacks. The distances between key destinations in the UK are relatively short, so unless you travel from the south of England all the way to the top of Scotland in one go, you won't be taking overnight trips. Most journeys are a couple of hours or less. There are a lot of different services and some good online tools to find them.

08 of 08

Secret Designer Factory Shops

Burberry Catwalk
Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Okay, technically, this is a way to spend money, not save it. But if you have always coveted a real Burberry raincoat, not a cheap and touristy flash of the plaid, but the real deal, you might get lucky in the company's official factory outlet store in Hackney. Ditto a snappy Barbour waxed jacket for the outdoor lifestyle, possibly half price at the factory gates in Jarrow, in the northeast. Factory shops are not the same as discount outlet malls (which often sell merchandise made especially for these malls). Designers may have only one or two factory stores where they unload surplus stock and slightly imperfect fashion goods at up to 70% off. 

Was this page helpful?