It is very easy to have a fun time in the UK, and it is even easier to do it while spending lots of money. I love living in London and I want to enjoy the experience the best I can, but I’m also managing it on a student budget. Here are my tips for making the most of your time here, while still being kind to your wallet!
1. Walk everywhere, don’t take transport
One unfortunate discovery I made about London was the huge expense of transportation. Even with a student pass, taking the tube in London is not cheap. Busses tend to cost a little less, but the costs still easily add up! The good news is that most places in London are close to each other and walking is the greatest mode of travel. This way, you see so much more of the city and you can even catch the streets off the beaten track that make London such a unique city. I’ve been living here for a year now and I still come across new, beautiful neighbourhoods all the time. Just last week I opted to walk 20 minutes somewhere instead of taking a bus, and I found myself in my new favourite residential neighbourhood in Central London. I would never have come across it if I’d relied on wheels, not legs.
2. Picnics in the park
Eating at restaurants in the UK can be extremely expensive, but prepared meals from food shops are usually reasonably priced (as long as you’re not in the posh shops!). We’ve had a particularly warm spring this year, and I’ve made the most of it by picking up food and having many picnics in the park. I picnicked in Green Park, right next door to Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park, neighbours with Kensington Palace. It’s a great way to enjoy a city, and the UK is so lush and green, there is stunning scenery wherever you find yourself out here. Just don’t forget your hay fever tablets!
As an addition to the above tip, it is generally far cheaper to pick up a beer from the supermarket than from a pub. Laws surrounding alcohol are very different in the UK compared to North America. You should look up the particular law in your region, but it may be perfectly legal to have a beer with your outdoor picnic.
The UK is a secret outdoorsy haven. I’m from western Canada, so I was missing a proper hike. Thankfully, the UK is full of fabulous adventure activities and they’re available all year long. I visited a friend in Leeds in early February and in true Canadian style she took me on a hike in the Yorkshire Dales. The UK version of the mountains isn’t quite the same as the Rockies, but I loved it nonetheless. Other than the cost of parking and some very sore legs, the experience was free.
Turns out a Yorkshire hike in February looks an awful lot like Canada!
5. Avoid the trains and take the bus (but if you’re going to take the train, get a student discount card)
Travelling around different UK cities is a must-do for your time abroad, but train tickets are wildly expensive. Bus tickets are considerably more within a student budget, and busses run frequently across the UK. It takes a little longer, but if you have the time it’s a worthwhile sacrifice (I paid £10 for a bus ticket from London to Leeds, where the train ticket would have cost £75). If you must take the train invest in a student railcard, which will pay for itself within a few journeys.
The best thing you can do with your time abroad is wander and see the country from all different angles. I hope these tips can help you explore and make the most of your adventure! If you would like to find out more about studying in the UK, please contact one of our Advisors.