Keep Calm and Save Money: 9 Ways to Pinch the Pennies in England this Summer

Some say that travelling to England for a family vacation is expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you should dump it from your bucket list! Using a few of these money-saving tips and tricks will allow you to make the best of your next UK vacation – without breaking the bank.

1. Travel in July

Most British schools don’t break up for their summer holidays until the final week of July (don’t feel bad for the kids; they get a weeks’ half-term break in October and February). The short British summer means that Canadians can take advantage of plentiful accommodation and lower prices during the first half of July, when all the English kiddies are still in school!

2. Buy a Britrail Pass Before You Go.

Britrail passes offer incredible flexibility and savings for visitors to England, and they’re great for families because for each accompanying adult or senior, one child (ages 5-15) travels free. You must buy a Britrail pass before you leave Canada, as they’re specifically for tourists. ACP Rail is the best place to shop for your pass.

ACP Rail britrail pass, from 9 Ways to Save Money in England this Summer

A Britrail Pass can save you hundreds of dollars on travel/Photo: ACP Rail

3. Sleep Above a Pub (and eat there too!)

Staying above a pub is a great way to save money for families. Most pubs offer breakfast in the morning included in the room rate, plus a hearty and affordable evening menu. Ranging from high-end boutique to cheap and cheerful local pubs that don’t even have their own website, you’ll find a variety of options at www.stayinapub.com

 4. Stay at a Youth Hostel 

Do your kids like bunk beds? The award-winning Youth Hostel Association of England and Wales has 150 unique properties, ranging from their modern backpackers on Oxford Street to the incredible Sill at Hadrian’s Wall – a high-spec hostel and landscape discovery centre in Northumberland. High-season prices start at £79.00 for a family room with en-suite bathroom facilities. Check out the YHA UK for more details.

Youth Hostel Oxford Street, from 9 Ways to Save Money in England this Summer

YHA Central London Oxford Street/Photo: YHA

5. Use Oyster Cards

Travelling in London? Use an Oyster card to save money on the London Underground. For example, an off-peak single adult ticket between Ealing Broadway (Zone 3) and Picaddily Circus (Zone 1) is $4.90 if you pay cash, or 2.90 if you use your Oyster. Even better, a Visitor Oyster Card can get you special discounts on London Attractions.

6. Travel Off-Peak

Taking the tube? Don’t travel between 6:30 am and 9:30 am Monday to Friday. This is when Londoners are rushing to work so fares are are nearly double, and the crowds are thick and fast. The same goes for National Rail services – everything is cheaper after the rush hour and on weekends.

Oxford Circus Avoid the crowds photo by Helen Earley

London: Travel off-peak and use an Oyster Card. Kids up to 10 can travel free without a ticket if accompanied by a fare-paying adult/Photo: Helen Earley

7. Visit Free Attractions in London

London is full of free attractions like Paddington’s favourite, the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Just down the road, the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens is free too. You can find more free attractions and ideas for family travel at VisitLondon.com

8. Leave the Big Cities Behind…and Hit the Beach

So many of us fly into London’s Heathrow and spend a few days in London, with day trips to Windsor, Oxford or Bath. Why not travel outside the box to somewhere completely new? Take the County of Cornwall for example. With scrumptious local food like pasties and cream teas, and hundreds of stunning beaches, it’s a place that is immensely popular with the British holidaymakers, but that many international visitors don’t see. Learn more at Visit Cornwall.

Great Western Beach photo by Helen Earley, from 9 Ways to Save Money in England this Summer

Great Western Beach, Newquay, Cornwall: Not enough Canadians/Photo: Helen Earley

9. Grab a Picnic

England has plenty of beautiful green spaces, and on every corner, there are convenient mini-supermarkets like Tesco Metro or Sainsbury’s Local. Grab some ready-made sandwiches, juice packs and a few apples to enjoy a chilled-out family picnic near a playground or beside a canal. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

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