Enough of the heavy duty posts about the economy and Greece. Or why it’s so important to jump off the consumption train.
It’s July! Serious summer! And I bet most of you have *some* kind of travel ahead. (Can’t afford to? My online money management program can help!) So this month, I have a series of posts lined up all about being smart with your money while travelling, or even living abroad.
First up: England. After 3 weeks living with both a native Brit and a Cdn expat, here are 5 tips I’ve learned to save money while staying in England.
1. Cel phones & Internet
I paid Bell an extra $100 for 100 phone minutes. I can make the calls from the UK to anywhere in the world. Usually these would be at nearly double that price for calling from outside my region so I’m glad I made the call to Bell. However, I popped into a local (England) phone shop (I forget the shop name, but they’re in every mall) and discovered for £10, or $15, they would have given me the same minutes on a new sim card. Don’t know how to replace a sim card? It’s super easy. Having said that, it would have involved jail breaking my iPhone (I got it for $200 in exchange for locking into a 3 year contract with Bell) which I was hesitant to do.
Internet? Of course I turned my roaming data off (and you should too, or you’ll probably regret it!). I had hoped for the same kind of ubiquitous free wifi that Vancouver enjoys, but no such luck. In fact, only one coffee shop and one pub has provided it free so far during my stay. So I bit the bullet and paid £39 (about $60) for 60 hours of wifi from BT OpenZone. Most coffee shops have BT OpenZone as an option. Next time though, I’ll buy a dongle, although apparently they’re not as fast as using BT OpenZone.
2. Grocery Stores
Obviously buying groceries is less expensive than dining out. Grocery stores here seem to supply way more quick-and-easy (yet healthy!) travel-friendly items than Canadian stores. Marks & Spencer is particularly fabulous – little curry bowls and fancy-schmancy couscous boxes, for example. As you would expect, there is a range between super-value grocery stores up to high-end grocery stores.
Sainsbury is probably the most value-for-dollar. Think: SuperStore.
Tescos are everywhere, and a good, basic store. Think: SaveOn
Marks and Spencer are probably comparable to Safeway.
Waitrose is generally top end, perhaps comparable to the IGA Marketplace.
I have not seen anywhere comparable to Urban Fare or Whole Foods (Waitrose might reach those heights but I’ve only been in one small one).
3. Trains. Trains are the way to go between towns. The further in advance you book, the better the fare. Use trainline to find the best deals. So far I haven’t seen any real advantage of going first class over economy, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a money coach. So unless you have money to spare, stick with economy.
4. Many galleries – top calibre galleries – are free or by donation. Spend time enjoying them! The Tate Galleries, The National Gallery, Natural History Museum — enough to keep you engrossed for hours, for free.
5. Shows. If you’re prepared to risk not getting a seat at all, really super-low deals can be had by booking same-day theatre tickets from Last Minute.
One thing everyone should know is that the whole country is well in to the chip-(debit) card. My debit card isn’t (I’d received the card but not my pin before I left) so I can’t use it at all! Problem inelegantly solved by using my visa which is chipped.
Readers – any of you travel in England a lot? What would you add to this list?
Photo Credit: APDK