Find out how to save money and travel around historic UK with ease.
My personal list of handy UK travel tips. All first hand knowledge - written during my travels in the United Kingdom.
All the tips have been categorised into sections. Just click on each tab to fully open and start reading.
- If you intend to use local transport into London upon arrival at any airport, buy an Oyster Card (£5.00) and top it up with cash (approx. £8.00 x number of days stay). The Oyster Card automatically calculates the cheapest fare for your days travel (whether it be a one sector ticket or a zone day pass). You can use it on the Underground (swipe in and out) or London buses (swipe when boarding only). And you can gett a refund on the Oyster Card purchase and any balance remaining at the airport tube station. Two options available to you; either receive a cash refund at a self-service kiosk or cash/credit card at the Information Desk.
- There are many options to travel from the various London airports to the city centre. I have all the information condensed in one blog - London airport transfer guide.
- UK Registered traveller info: When I arrived at London City Airport, I was not allowed to go through the e-passport gate even though I have a chip in my passport because I wasn't a 'registered traveller'. So I looked up the details on their website. Signing up as a 'registered traveler' means you can go through the much faster UK/EU lanes or the e-passport gates and you don't have to complete a landing card. However it costs £70 for one year for this privilege. Do you think it's worth paying just to avoid the long queues at immigration for international passport holders? http:// www.gov.uk/registered-traveler
- When shopping remember to ask if the store offers VAT tax refund, because the shop assistants don’t always remember to tell you! Not all shops participate in the tax refund system, so you need to ask in order to receive a special tax refund receipt to present at the airport when you depart. Each participating store has different minimum spend requirement, starting from £30. Happy shopping!!!
- If you're on an extended holiday and need to lighten your bag or you went crazy shopping in London, chances are you may need to post a box home! I saved 60% by sending my 5kg of accumulated stuff in 2kg packages instead of one 5kg box. Royal Mail (UKs post office) have cheap international rates to a maximum weight of 2kg. Be sure to ask for International Economy rate - takes 45 days to reach Australia but you save more money. (Note: I sent 3 parcels home in which 2 of them arrived within three weeks and the third box arrived 3 months later!). You can pay extra if you want a tracking number.
UK travel tips - cities
- If you love the theatre, buy discounted theatre tickets at the half price ticket box in Leicester Square. There are now many ticket desks in this area selling discounted tickets for the day but my favourite is still the original TKTS London.
- In 2016, London Transport finally introduced night tube services on weekends only. For those of you who lived or been to London before will understand how this makes life so much easier and safer. On weeknights the Tube services usually close at midnight so you have to take a night bus home, which aren't always so frequent and the journey is longer. In such situations, its better to take a taxi.
- If you need to stock up on or buy new backpacking gear or clothing, then go to Southhampton Road in Covent Garden. Here you will find all the outdoor/trekking stores on one road, such as Ellis Brigham, Mountain Warehouse (bought by Ellis Brigham but have their own branded stuff at much cheaper prices), Cotswold and Northface.
- London is famous for its black taxi/cabs. However, you will find cheaper prices with Mini Cabs – private cars offering a taxi service. Each one is independently owned so you will have to search out for small shops with Mini Cabs written on the front. Usually find them near to Tube stations.
- For a first timer to London, I recommend staying in the Bayswater area – a pleasant, trendy area. Then you are close to shops and restaurants or you can venture further afield. Oxford Street shops are a 30 minute walk away. Kensington Palace is a 10 minute walk away.
- For the history buffs out there, I recommend going to the Museum of London before doing a city sightseeing tour. It’s a great museum showing the complete history of London from pre-historic days to present. You can then appreciate the sights of the London more with this background knowledge.
- You can find cheaper movie tickets at Prince Charles cinema, located a short walk from Leicester Square. For latest release movies as well as lesser known films.
- For the fine drinkers. If you like beer, walk along the unofficial Bermondsey Beer mile. On Saturdays, all the micro breweries open their taps to the public. If you like gin, you definitely have to drink at the eccentric Mr Fogg's Tavern, upstairs is best.