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How to travel Britain on a budget

Whether it’s on your doorstep or one of your bucket list destinations, Britain has much to offer the adventurous spirit. From historic architecture and culture to wide open spaces and a rugged coastline, travelling the length and breadth of Britain can be a delight.

However, it’s not always the cheapest of destinations. Here are our top tips to help you travel around Britain on a budget.

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Getting around

Unfortunately, public transport in Britain is not cheap, and there aren’t many savings to be had by choosing to drive. The price of petrol and diesel is in line with the rest of Europe. While the country has an extensive rail network, prices can be quite high.  But there are some cheaper options that you might want to consider.

Coach/bus – One of the cheapest ways to travel around Britain is to take a coach or a bus. Operators such as Megabus and National Express connect most major cities, and if you keep an eye out, even offer £1 fares. Megabus is the cheaper of the two, but while National Express may be more expensive, it offers a more comfortable experience. A bus or coach may not be the quickest option, but it could definitely save you a few pennies. A journey from London to Bristol takes three hours compared to just over one hour on the train.

Discounted rail travel – If you are savvy, then the train can be a reasonable travel option. Try to book early, as some operators will release a certain number of cheaper fares early on. Also, maybe look to travel off-peak, as this will certainly save you some money. Another way to save money on train fares is to consider alternative routes. Is there a smaller station you can depart from? Or a less direct route that could save you some money? Finally, maybe look to see if there is a railcard that could help you. If you plan to travel around the country frequently, there are railcard options for young people, seniors, groups, families and couples. Or, if you are not a UK resident, you could look at the BritRail pass which offers you unlimited travel by train within Britain.

Staying the night

Often one of the biggest expenses when travelling is your accommodation. Hotels in Britain can be costly, but there are budget versions available. Here are some accommodation options you could consider.

Universities – If you are travelling in the summer months, then it may be an idea to consider student accommodation. While the students are away, the tourists can play. Institutions often rent out student rooms outside of term time, usually at very reasonable rates.

Hostels –  Staying with the YHA or in a private hostel can be a great way to keep costs down while travelling. Located all across the country, they offer budget accommodation options in all shapes and sizes. Be it a bunk bed in a shared room or the privacy of your own space, there’s something for everyone.

Camping – Britain is awash with campsites for those who like to get outdoors. Whether you’re using a tent or hiring a campervan, there are multiple options across the country to pitch up and stay.

Keeping entertained

The beauty of Britain is that some of our national treasures are completely free. But even if they aren’t, there are options available that can save you money.

National Trust/English Heritage/Historic Scotland membership – If you plan to do a lot of travelling around the country, then you could consider investing in one of these memberships. These give you unlimited access to some of the most historic or scenically beautiful sights around the country. You can get an individual membership, joint membership or a family membership.

Museums – While London may be among the most expensive cities to visit, one advantage is that its museums are free. This means you can hop from looking at 1920’s fashion at the V&A to visiting the T-Rex at the Natural History Museum, all without getting your purse out.

Walking – Be it in a city centre such as Liverpool, or along a coastal path, one of the best ways to experience Britain is to get walking. It could be a ‘free’ city walking tour (there may not be a ticket cost, but you are encouraged to tip your guide) or just getting out and walking along the national trails, but this is often the best and cheapest way to see the country.

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