Visiting London? Avoid these 10 costly mistakes

Planning a trip to London? Your itinerary is already packed full of things that you want to do. From free museums to authentic pubs, you’ll have no problem coming up with plenty of great London ideas. But there are a few things we suggest you don’t do, too.

These oh-so-easy to make errors can add up over the course of a trip and make a serious impact on your wallet — not to mention your enjoyment. To make the most of London like a true Cheapo, be sure to avoid these 10 costly mistakes:

1. Not getting an Oyster card

Just getting around town is expensive in London. And, do you know what’s really cruel? It tends to cost tourists more. That’s because Londoners who regularly take the Tube use Oyster cards. These are like travel credit cards, and they charge a cheaper rate for tickets than just buying them as you go. Sometimes an equivalent journey without an Oyster card can be more than double the price!

Oyster cards are easy to get hold of, you’ll just need to pay a small deposit (which is refundable). Find out more about them here.

2. Taking the Tube for every trip

And while we’re on the subject of travel, don’t think you have to travel everywhere on the London Underground Tube network. It’s easy to get between most central London attractions on foot (not to mention a lot more interesting).

If that’s not an option, London buses are considerably less expensive than the Tube and just as user friendly (the name of the stops are always announced and come up on a screen). They’re better for those traveling with wheelchairs and strollers, too. (Here’s a list of 5 bus routes every tourist should know.)

Tower of London

The Tower of London might be an icon, but it also costs £24.50. However, if you do go, make sure to book ahead. Photo: Craig Nelson

3. Trying to do too much

London is huge! And there’s so much to see. You’ll never see it all in one trip, so don’t make the mistake of trying to cram it all in. Rushing from one expensive attraction to another is a sure-fire way to lose money and lose out on some of the city’s fun.

Plan the essentials and leave the rest to chance. Sunny day? Have a wander around one of the city’s great parks, maybe, or check out a market. Rainy day? Pop into a free museum. London is better when you don’t try and keep up with the city’s frantic pace.

4. Not booking ahead for the big attractions

Having said that, for the really big attractions that you know you don’t want to miss out on, it’s always best (and often cheaper!) to book ahead. Many, including the Tower of London, Madame Tussaud’s, the London Eye and London Zoo, are all cheaper when you book online ahead of your visit.

Related: Top budget hotels in London

Celtic Hotel

Celtic Hotel offers an optimal Bloomsbury location with low rates and free breakfast. Photo: Craig Nelson

5. Staying in a hotel way outside the center

We’ve all been there: deciding to go for accommodation that’s slightly cheaper but not so well located. Honestly, in London that’s a false economy. Staying more centrally doesn’t only save you travel time, it means that you can most likely walk, or at least bus it, to the central locations.

For budget friendly, centrally located accommodations, check out our favorite hotels in the Bloomsbury neighborhood, near Victoria Station, or Bayswater, for starters.

6. Tipping too much

Britain is not a nation of tippers and applying some of British tipping habits will really help your wallet.

• Eating out? Look at the check to see if a service charge has already been added. If not, a tip of around 10% is normal (and that’s only if you have been happy with the service).

• Getting a taxi? Round it up to the nearest pound.

• In a bar? It’s quite rare to tip, although you may offer to buy the bartender a drink.

Of course if you want to reward exceptional service with a more generous tip, it will always be appreciated. However, in the vast majority of cases, tipping is really seen as a bonus.

Albert and Victoria

Victoria & Albert Museum is not only the world’s biggest destination for design and decorative arts. It’s also free! Photo: mk30

7. Not making the most of the free attractions

Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London may leave you feeling culturally enriched – they’ll also leave you considerably poorer. But famous doesn’t always have to mean pricey.

Many of London’s popular museums are free and it’s definitely worth making the most of them, whether it’s hanging out with the Egyptian mummies and the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, or marveling at the contemporary art and architecture at Tate Modern. Take a look at the list of 20 free museums here.

8. Being ripped off for food

Microwaved meals and soggy pasta is all-too-often dished up to unsuspecting tourists. Finding well prepared, decently priced food in many of London’s tourist areas can be a huge challenge.

If available options look suspect, head to one of London’s better chains. The following all offer tasty food for around £10-15: Wagamama (noodles), Wahaca (Mexican), Franco Manca (pizza), and Byron Burger (as the name suggests, burgers).

Markets are also a good option for foodies (especially for the free samples). Check out this list of our favorite food markets. As well as Borough and Maltby Street, check out many of the street markets such as KERB, a regular near King’s Cross.

Tesco Express

Don’t overlook supermarkets for picking up snacks or even all the fixings for a cheap dinner. Tesco Express is a popular choice. Photo: Ewan Munro

9. Not using the supermarkets

Eating out in London all the time gets expensive quickly, but eating in is relatively cheap. Even if you’re staying in a hotel, it’s always worth popping into a supermarket for a lunch or a snack (check out our guide to supermarkets here). They’ll always have a good range of food to go, at a great price.

10. Overlooking discounts

Having an International Student Identity Card can make a huge difference to your stay and can offer discounts of between 20% to 50% on entrance tickets. If you’re not a student but still under 31, an International Youth Travel Card offers similar reductions. Similarly, seniors should ask about discounted admission to most big attractions and museums.

Your tips?

Have a tip to add to our list of mistakes to avoid when visiting London? Share with us in the comments section below!

The post Visiting London? Avoid these 10 costly mistakes appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

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