I’ve been meaning to write this up for a while. I’ve been pretty busy the past few months with work etc. I started a new placement at work and have just completed some professional exams. Anyway, back to the blog. I want to discuss monetary lessons learned from a London trip with my partner. This has been in draft since the end of March but I still think the points are just as relevant today. In fact, maybe they’re more relevant as we come into summer and people start to holiday a bit more.
- Take a travel mug
When I started my job in September last year I formed a habit of buying a coffee every morning for £2.50 which works out roughly to £650 a year. I was genuinely surprised by the figure. So I went online and looked around and bought the following travel mug. I’m sure there are other great ones out there but this had great reviews and looked robust. Now I agree £20+ for a travel mug is pretty expensive but, when compared to a year’s worth of coffee buying, I thought it was well worth it. This is something I have found – yes make savings but don’t scrimp on quality if it means more trouble or you’re likely to give up and go back to your old ways. I fill the coffee up at 0600 and it’s still warm at 1200, although it’s usually gone by 1000. Also, it’s durable and has an innovative lid which locks for peace of mind and means it can be tossed around in your bag without fear of it leaking. Moreover, I buy a good quality instant from Aldi – it’s £2 but will last a couple weeks. So roughly, I will spend £130 in a year compared to £650 (plus think of the reduced waste).
Anyway after all this preaching I made the mistake of not taking my coffee and not taking my travel mug – so I forked out for some coffee in a supermarket as well as buying some coffees out which were not cheap. I probably could have saved £20 this way.
- Stay somewhere with its own kitchen
Whether it’s a hostel, self-contained flat or similar, this is a great way to save money. We have made the mistake of booking a hotel room before and then having to eat out for all three meals – this quickly adds up.
This leads on to the next point.
As well as coffee, if you’re staying somewhere for a while – take with you some condiments: salt, pepper, oil, spices – this will make home cooking much more enjoyable and save you from buying unnecessary bulk items (which are usually left behind).
We have a small container with compartments that we brought with us.
- Plan ahead – make the most of your days so you need less time (and so hotels)
We only went for two days but we packed in 3 or 4 days’ worth of activities. This means we saved 1 or 2 days extra accommodation and food costs. We saw a West-End show, went to Hyde Park, visited museums and went sightseeing.
This is the same approach we took to South East Asia. We packed in 3 countries, elephants, caving, waterfalls, museums, history trips, a few days in Sapa, a three day tour of Ha-long Bay, this also included a budget week-long stay at a 5 star hotel in Thailand (off season so we had the room for less than half price). Just plan ahead and use your time effectively.
- Visit the Museums!!!
I may be a bit biased as I spent three years reading for a history degree. But, if you fancy some culture and want to experience some amazing artefacts then plan your visit around the free museums and galleries in London. Yes, that’s right they’re free!
The British Museum has a unique collection and is one of the best in the world.
- Take Your Own Snacks
We made the mistake of buying a couple of cakes and coffees in the British Museum. We told ourselves we had been ‘good’ by cooking our own meals and making our own lunches. However, this almost came to £20!! The worst thing was the coffee wasn’t great and neither were the cakes: so lesson learnt.
Why not make the snacks healthy at the same time? I bought some small containers which I take to work but are just as usable when on day trips. I usually pack a couple pots with walnuts and one with raisins, dates or similar. Yes, nuts can be a bit pricey but consider the cost compared to a burger meal from McDonald’s; the nuts are cheaper. There are plenty of ideas online to suit different tastes so take a look.
And that’s it! I don’t know why that has taken over three months to complete but I hope to be more regular in future.
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