Travel the UK on a Budget: Tips for Students

Blogs 03 May 2023 / 7 mins read

By Owen Redman

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The UK is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes, buzzing cities and historical landmarks in the world. It’s also really accessible by bus, train and plane- so what’s not to love? Whether you’re in the UK as an international student or you’ve lived here for your whole life, make the most of what this country has to offer this summer!

Travelling can get expensive, but we’re here to show you that there are ways to do it without breaking the bank. Follow these nine student-friendly tips to learn how to travel the UK on a budget:

1. Create and stick to a budget

To travel the UK on a budget, map one out! First estimate what you realistically have to spend, and then work out the total of bookable costs like travel, accommodation and any pre-booked activities.

Next, work out how much of your budget is remaining. This can be used for things like food, day trips and nights out.

Make sure to always have a little extra money set aside just in case you go over budget slightly or need to fork out an emergency cost.

2. Book in advance for cheaper deals

Spontaneity might be exciting, but the best way to travel the UK on a budget is to plan ahead and make bookings in advance so that you can get some real bargains. Start by looking at the places that you want to visit, and then search for deals on travel, accommodation and activities. 

You’ll often find that it’s less expensive to book hotels and hostels in advance, and the same goes for travel tickets. 

Hopefully your organisation will save you some money!

3. Find cheaper travel

Transport can be a huge cost, so finding cheaper alternatives is vital to be able to travel the UK on a budget.

Domestic air travel can be quite expensive, but might be worth it if you’re travelling a long distance within the country.

Rail travel is a great option! If you book in advance, you can find inexpensive fairs. We also recommend investing in a Railcard which reduces train fares for 16-25 year olds by ⅓. This will really help you to save some money.

Coach travel is another cheaper transport alternative. Journeys can be lengthy, but you can get across the country for next to nothing when booked in advance.

4. Stay in hostels 

One way to keep costs low is to stay in hostels! Hostels offer a much cheaper alternative to hotels, and they’re also a great opportunity to meet new people on your travels.

Hostels provide basic facilities for a lower price. Most hostels will have shared rooms with bunk beds, but you can usually choose the number of people in your room, and some hostels will offer rooms for women only.

There are a number of party hostels in the UK which have their own bars and clubs, and organise events for guests. These are a good option if you’re looking for a fun time!

Check out this website to take a look at the UK’s hostels. 

5. Don’t forget to use your student discount!

One of the main perks of being a student in the UK is the awesome student discounts that you can get on almost anything- from travel, to eating out, to sightseeing. These discounts are a great way to cut costs and stay on budget whilst still enjoying yourself.

Many tourist attractions will offer discounts or deals for students, so make sure to snap these up. Make sure you have proof of student status to be able to claim these discounts!

The UK also has some amazing student discount websites and apps. The National Union of Students’ TOTUM scheme will get you offers on nearly anything, and also acts as a form of legal ID. Make sure to also check out UNiDAYS and Student Beans for a more budget-friendly break.

6. Eat for less

Food can be a real kicker for those who want to travel the UK on a budget. Dining out at restaurants can get very expensive, very quickly, so keeping your food expenditure low should be a priority!

The cheapest way to spend less on food is to cook for yourself. If your accommodation has kitchen facilities, this will be easy. If not, even just making one meal a day yourself (making cereal for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch) will cut costs dramatically, 

Another way to eat for less is by making the most out of discounted food. The Too Good to Go app is perfect for this! You’ll be able to pick up delicious food from local restaurants at reduced prices, whilst also minimising food waste.

Many restaurants offer student discounts on meals. Take a look online to see what offers there are where you’re travelling!

7. Make the most of free activities

The UK is a great place for travelling on a budget because of all the free activities and attractions on offer up and down the country!

  • All National Museums in the UK are free of charge to enter, so learn something new and have some fun without paying a penny.
  • The UK is home to hundreds of gorgeous parks and botanical gardens that don’t ask for an entry fee. Use this to your advantage and plan a scenic picnic or a walk!
  • Keep an eye out for free events and festivals. All major cities in the UK will have an online calendar that shows what free events are happening.
  • Go on a free walking tour. It’s pretty easy to find walking tours in most of the UK’s cities. These are a great way to see all of the city’s main sights on the cheap,
  • Spend time in the great outdoors for free! One of the best things about the UK is its nature- glorious beaches, stunning lakes and miles of greenery- and you can explore it all on a budget!  

8. Avoid peak season

As a university student, you’re lucky that you have fewer constraints on your schedule than the average person. If you’re able to be flexible with your travel, try to go outside of peak seasons. This will really help to save on costs, as it’s likely that everything from transportation to accommodation will be reduced in price. 

This means avoiding travel at the height of the school summer holidays (end of July throughout August) and around Christmas time. 

Additionally, you’ll have the benefit of missing the tourist hustle and bustle and having a more authentic experience!

9. Use public transport

In general, the UK is a country that is relatively well connected by public transport networks. In all of the major cities there will be an operating bus and train service, as well as national rail links. Many cities are also walkable, so you could even explore on foot.

Public transport will work out much cheaper than relying on taxis or other forms of transport, so make the most out of it!

You can also check online to see if the place you’re visiting has any public transport discounts or ticket bundles for tourists.

Our unofficial tenth tip is… HAVE FUN! Take this opportunity whilst you’re at university in the UK to explore and see what this beautiful place has to offer. 

Be sure to check out the Roome website, where we post loads of tips and tricks for university students every single week. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to learn more about how we’re revolutionising the student housing market!

Posted by Owen Redman

Co-founder of Roome

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