Written By Talia from TaliasTravels.com
Not so long ago, I had a free weekend, but with only £200 in the bank. I desperately wanted to get out and do something, so closed my eyes, put my finger on the map, and just went! I knew I had to be frugal, so I recorded every expense, so here’s my itinerary on a budget… Plus a few recommendations for urban backpackers on where to go and how to get there!
National Express to London: £5 To get into London cheaply, you have to book about 2 weeks ahead. If you aren’t planning on taking a peak-time bus such as after 8am or during holiday times, you can secure some surprisingly cheap fares – it’s not hard to find good fares for not much money! The earlier you travel (and I mean 2am) not only is it cheaper, it means you get so much more out of your day. Call me insane, but I don’t regret it one bit! I recommend doing this in every city if you're backpacking Europe.
Transport around London: £3-10 (depending on where you go in London) If you have the visitor oyster card, you can cut your costs so much! Each fare is cut down up to 50% of what it would be if you bought the paper ticket. And what’s even better, when you are finished with it, you can return it at a ticket office and you’ll get a £5 refund!
Breakfast: £6.75 I had breakfast at Workshop Coffee Co, Clerkenwell. While it wasn’t the best choice for a budget feed, it meant that I could have a seat, use some good, fast wi-fi and take a moment after a long journey into London, plus a well needed good hot chocolate.
Lunch on the go: £3 Supermarkets have the best meal deals in the UK. It costs you pittance to get a good, filling sandwich, plus some nibbles (a.k.a. chips or ‘crisps’) and a drink. Perfect for when you’re on a budget, also good for when you just want to hang out in Hyde Park for a picnic lunch.
Dinner on the go: £5 I got my dinner this evening from Greggs. Although it was another sandwich, I was backpacking on a tight budget, and in reality although it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted, it was all I really needed!
Stored luggage: £10 So that I could spend my day free of a heavy bag, I chose to store my suitcase in the luggage store at King’s Cross Station. While some may say it’s a waste, I feel it’s a bit of a Godsend – you’re free to go everywhere in London without having to worry about a heavy bag! If you've ever been urban backpacking, you know exactly what I'm talking about! The stored luggage at Victoria Coach Station is a little cheaper at £4 for the day, but if it’s not convenient, that’s the choice you make!
Photo journey around London: FREE!!! The best way to see a town on a budget, is by not having any aim for the day, and going around by foot! I just simply had a look on Google Maps, found some good spots to visit, and went wandering! My top spots would be Camden Market for the culture, Monument (it does cost £3 to go up but it’s totally worth it!) for the views, and exploring the many parks around London – adorable squirrels make it totally worthwhile! If you’re arriving as early as I did, you have the best time to take photos of the prime tourist spots without the tourists – it makes for the best shots!
Accommodation: £16 Everyone knows that accommodation in London isn’t cheap. If it’s the middle of winter, or the middle of a week in the worst room in town, then yes, it can be… But in reality, if you’re travelling during any peak holiday times, the price can rack up. The Londonears Hostel in Earl’s Court isn’t the nicest in town by a long shot, but it was enough. I stayed in a 6-bed mixed dorm for the night, which wasn’t ideal, but the other options (such as the YHA) were booked out for the dates I wanted.
Total for day 1: £55.75
Breakfast: £13.50 Now this one I splashed out on, but I was dying to hear an Australian accent, so I visited the Lantana
Café in Fitzrovia. Definitely worth the visit if your budget can fit it – gorgeous coffee and hot chocolate, and really good food. And killer wi-fi!
National Express to Brighton: £5 For the same reasons that a trip to London is so cheap! It also helps that it is a direct route, so it means no extra fares, and no transfer fees. If you have a trip with multiple legs, I suggest booking them separately, because often it is cheaper that way.
Lunch on the go: £3 Another meal deal from Sainsbury’s – a budget traveller’s lifesaver!
An afternoon walk along Brighton Beach: FREE! Brighton is gorgeous, particularly in the afternoons, under a setting sun. There is so much culture and character along the beach, there are so many things to see. You could stand and watch the buskers for hours, I swear! They’re all just so good!
Dinner at the hostel: £2.50 YHA makes really good food – particularly at the Brighton YHA! The soup of the day is always a hearty one, and surprisingly is enough for dinner after a long day on the go.
Accommodation: £14 The YHA in Brighton has just been recently renovated. It used to be a luxury hotel, and has been converted into a hip, new and amazingly nice YHA. Even though I was staying in a (female) dorm room, I still kind of felt like I was in a nice hotel – it’s definitely a must-go!
Total for day 2: £38
Breakfast: £5.25 The cafés in Brighton are the most gorgeous, most character-filled cafés I have ever been into. I loved them all to bits, and found it so hard to choose one! I finally chose VBites, which is in the ‘posher’ part of town, because I hadn’t quite made it as far as the Laines by the time my stomach reminded me of breakfast with a giant hunger pang!
Wandering the Laines: FREE! I would heartily argue that the best bit of Brighton is the Laines, hands down. There are all these gorgeous little boutique and vintage shops, but my ultimate favourite was the vintage market behind the street stalls on Kensington Gardens. I would honestly go back to Brighton purely for that market! What’s even better, is that a visit to the market and the Laines doesn’t cost a penny!
Lunch: £6.50 I decided after a long morning wandering through Brighton I needed a sit down lunch, and Burgers and Cocktails was my answer. This adorable café restaurant does lunch deals for a (massive) burger and chips for very little, and whats better, it tastes absolutely amazing! The best food I’d had so far!
Bike hire: £7 The best way to see a town, when you’ve got sore feet, is by bike. Amsterdammer’s Bike Hire has bikes available for 3 hours for only £7. Jump at the chance if you can… There’s a perfect cycle route all along the coastline all the way past Brighton and Hove.
Dinner: £7.75 As I mentioned earlier, YHA Brighton really knows how to cook! The beef lasagne I had was the most filling, most scrumptious lasagne I think I have ever had… I’d definitely recommend it, without a second thought!
Accommodation: £14 I was staying in the Brighton YHA again, which was yet again a pleasure to stay at. I should add that they have a storage room here, so when I checked out, I put my suitcase into storage for the next day so that I could walk around without hassle.
Total for day 3: £40.5
Breakfast: £5.25 I chose to have a buffet breakfast in the hotel on this morning, so that I could eat enough to fuel my day without getting too hungry, and without worrying about whether what I bought would be enough. There wasn’t really anything special about the breakfast, but it definitely was calorie filled, and exactly what I needed.
Wandering through Queen’s Park: FREE! The gardens in Brighton are all stunning, but this one is my favourite. If you aren’t content with just another walk, you can always visit the Royal Pavilion for £11.50, but I didn’t think it was worth it. You can, however, get 10% off your ticket price if you buy them online, so plan ahead!
Lunch: £5 Because I’d had such a filling breakfast, I didn’t really need more that what I had – a simple toast with jam and a hot chocolate sufficed! I can’t quite remember the name of the café, but any of the cafés in the North Laines would be perfect!
Juice: £2.50 I was feeling very inspired, so I put away the map and just got lost in the Laines – the result was a juice store find! Helm Ston makes amazing organic juices, with the coolest flavour combinations. It is hidden away in a little store off Trafalgar Street opposite Pelham Square, and I highly recommend it!
Exploring Brighton Pier: FREE! I had put off visiting the pier until the last day because I wasn’t sure if there was an entrance fee, but after I discovered it was completely open to the public, I jumped at the chance! It really is everything it is cracked up to be!
National Express through Brighton and home: £13 This one was a little more expensive because of the time of day I needed to travel to get home, and because I booked both legs of the trip in one. But really I’m just complaining… It was a long trip home, but as always, it was a pleasure to travel with National Express. I highly recommend it to anyone travelling around the UK, but if you can, get a coachcard for an extra 1/3 off your fares!
Dinner: £5 Since a friend introduced me to Leon, I’ve never gone anywhere else before a long coach ride! Leon is an organic fast food restaurant chain, with some amazing food options. It’s as yummy and fast as McDonald’s, but because the food is healthy, it makes you feel good too!
Total for day 4: £30.75
I would highly recommend a visit to Brighton, it just has so much character, and if your transfer to Brighton goes through London, you may as well make a day of it like I did! I don’t regret any part of my trip, other than not having enough money to stay any longer!
I did this whole trip in a total of £165, fitting well below my original budget of £200. I can now prove that it is possible to travel in England for under an average of £50 a day pretty easily, and you can still enjoy every moment. I utilised every free opportunity, and said no to things that I knew I wouldn’t regret not doing, and the only thing I can say is that I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.
I should mention that while this is a pretty in depth itinerary, don’t follow it to a tee – because in my opinion, travel is all about getting lost to find yourself, and finding your own amazing places, and having your own epic experiences. All the best in your travels!
A blogger at TaliasTravels.com, Talia has been travelling as long as she can remember, but she only recently decided to start sharing her travel tales with the world. She has no plans to stop travelling any time soon... Really she has no plans at all! Talia is a spontaneous traveller, taking every moment as it comes, eternally looking for the perfect photo opportunity.