Since Erin was born in 2016 we have been to London quite a few times, whether that be before a holiday abroad or just for a city break for a few days. London can end up costing a fortune though, depending on what you decide to do while you’re there. I wanted to share some ideas for how to save money on a family trip to London.
Even if we could drive, which we don’t yet, I don’t think we would ever drive to London. It’s really easy for us to get the train here in Norfolk and it only takes a couple of hours to get to London. However, the cost of train tickets is crazy, especially if you can’t get or don’t want to get the advance timed tickets.
If you are a family with children then it would be worth looking at getting a Friends and Family Railcard. These cost £30 for 1 year or £70 if you wish to buy a 3 year railcard. You can have 2 named adults on the card (don’t have to be travelling together) and you must travel with 1 child aged between 5 and 15 when using the card. The Friends and Family Railcard offers 1/3 off rail fares for up to 4 adults and 60% off for up to 4 kids.
A regular open return to London for 2 adults and a child for us would usually cost £153.50 but with the Friends and Family Railcard this comes down to £92.65. We’ve saved about £60 on 1 journey to London alone so that £30 initial spend was well worth it.
Some rail companies offer a group save ticket for 3 people or more (this would have cost us £121.50) but it still works out cheaper for us to have the railcard. We’ll also use it on other trips throughout the year until we do get a car.
Although a hotel might seem like an easy option while staying in London when you’re with children self-catering might be a better option. London has plenty of apartments to rent or Air BnB locations that are suitable for families. A lot of these will come with separate bedrooms as well as a kitchen and living area. This kind of accommodation could mean a quick supermarket shop at the start of your trip so that you can eat breakfast before heading out for the day or maybe packing a picnic to have while you’re out instead of spending money on lunch. Restaurants in London can cost quite a lot, especially if you find yourself eating out for three meals a day. If you’re still unsure, you can always try something in-between: an apartment professionally managed by an airbnb management company.
If you are going to stay in a hotel make sure you can look at ways to save money on your stay.
Sometimes you can find offers on boxes of cereal. There is a voucher/ code on or inside the cereal packet that can get you one adult free for attractions such as The London Eye, Madam Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure. It’s important to check the T&Cs with offers like these, especially when you consider restrictions because of Covid. We’re hoping to use one of these vouchers later in the year for a trip on the London Eye, which we’re going to need to book and pay for in advance.
Over the years we have been lucky enough to receive some lovely gift vouchers for experiences in London. A lot of these have come from buyagift or Red Letter Days. You can get some wonderful gift vouchers from either of these sites and it’s worth looking to buy them yourself as well. You can often get a 3 course meal for 2 people at somewhere like Prezzo or Cafe Rouge for a lot cheaper than you would normally pay. This could be a great way of cutting down costs on meals.
Although most places now require you to book in advance online this hasn’t always been the case. Remember the days when you could just turn up to an attraction and book on the gate? Well, when this happened generally you would end up paying a higher price for your tickets compared to if you booked in advance online. The savings might not be massive but I always like to try to save money wherever I can, even if it’s just a few pounds.
One thing I love about London is just how many free museums there are to visit, especially with children. The Science Museum and Natural History Museum are really close to one another and they are both free to visit. The type of museum you go to will really depend on how old your children are and what they’re interested in. If they’re older, they might be more interested in an art gallery such as the National Gallery. Be sure to book your tickets and a time slot online to ensure you can visit during your time in London.
Somewhere you don’t have to book tickets for in London are the beautiful parks. I’m always surprised by how many wonderful green spaces there are to explore in London such as Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. If you’re staying a little further afield then Greenwich Park might be easier for you to visit. Sitting with a picnic in a London park is a wonderful way to spend some time and it’s a great way for children to stretch their legs and have a runaround.
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