31 UK Budget Travel Tips to Save You Money

Looking for UK budget travel tips to help make your money go further in this wonderful country? Here are some of my top travel hacks for the UK to save you pennies and pounds…

UK budget travel tips

The UK is definitely not known as one of the cheapest destinations to travel round, and unfortunately, it’s getting more and more expensive. That doesn’t have to stop you exploring though!

You just need to get more savvy with your money.

Let me help you to travel the UK deeper and further by saving money on the basics, so you can do more. Here are my top travel tips for saving money on UK transport, getting deals on accommodation, and my tried and tested advice on how to save money on activities in the UK too.

How to Save Money on Travelling the UK

All my top UK budget travel tips laid bare…

where to eat in southsea

Save money on transport in the UK

1. Get 2-for-1 on attractions with National Rail

National Rail have lots of deals for cheap travel in the UK, but they also have a scheme where – if you travel by train – you can get 2-for-1 tickets on over 300 days out in England.

There are adventures all over the UK to enjoy, including Sea Life Centres, Cadbury World, football grounds, zoos, cathedrals, museums, gardens and cinemas. There’s genuinely something for everyone in the family.

All you need to do is save your ticket stub to show on entry, and you’ll get the 2-for-1 tickets. Check out the National Rail Days Out page for more info.

National Rail save money UK

Travelling to London by train can make it a little friendlier on the wallet. Register with National Rail’s Days Out Guide and you’ll get 2-for-1 discount codes for top attractions in London such as the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. Just visit the attraction’s own website and use the relevant discount code when booking two tickets. Simple. Just remember that on the day you arrive at the attraction, you’ll need to present a valid train ticket.

Cheeky travel tip? Even if you haven’t travelled by train, buy a cheap single fare for a couple of quid to take advantage of the 2-for-1… it’s much cheaper than the regular admission fee for most top attractions!

2. Use free parking apps

Parking is always that surprise extra cost that everyone hates. Think ahead and save money on your days out by downloading some of the free parking apps, like AppyParking and Parkopedia.

These apps will tell you where to park around the UK for free.

3. Just walk instead

There’s a lot to be said for a simple walk — it’s good exercise, you get to explore more locally, and it’s free! There are so many fabulous walks in the UK that are completely free to do. Download an app like Pathfinders or get a good walking guide to England book, and just go for it.

walk 1000 miles

Look for cities and towns that are walkable – Rye in East Sussex is a great shout!

4. Take the bus

Taking the public bus and just admiring the view as you go can be a great way to see some of the UK on the cheap – obviously this depends on which area you’re travelling through.

take the bus in UK

I did a lovely bus ride with my son along the coast of Southsea, on the Coast Hopper. He loved, and so did I as he travelled free and my ticket was just a few quid. It made for a great afternoon out for us – made all the better by getting an open top bus so we were in the fresh air!

How to save money on food & drink in the UK

5. Find restaurant deals before you go

Research the restaurants nearby your destination. Often chain restaurants like Pizza Express and Cafe Rouge have discount vouchers online, and all you have to do is Google ‘restaurant vouchers’.

Eating pizza on Bredy Farm

Read the terms and conditions carefully to make sure you go at the right time, but you can end up saving quite a bit with money off and 2-for-1 offers. You could also try using apps like Groupon or LivingSocial as they often have regional deals too.

If chain restaurants aren’t your cup of tea then look out for happy hours in the destination you’re going to. Late lunches and early dinners can save you some serious cash.

Also, if you know where you’re going, check the website for a money off voucher to save money on days out.

6. Get Meerkat deals

If your insurance is up for renewal or you need to switch your mobile or broadband provider, it might be worth checking out Comparethemarket.com. If you buy one of their products, download the ‘Meerkat app’ and you’ll get discounts on restaurants and pizza delivery. You may, however, need to fight the urge to talk like a Russian mongoose wearing a smoking jacket.

If you use Compare the Market for your car insurance or something else, you can make the most of this great offer. Sometimes you don’t have to purchase an expensive policy either; some people have reported that a handy hack is to buy a day’s travel insurance using Compare the Market, and you’ll get access to Meerkat deals for a year. This includes the cinema and restaurants. An absolute bargain.

7. Sign up for a Tastecard

Saving money on food is one of the best ways to enjoy cheaper days out in England. After all, restaurants can be pricey and the cost of all those snacks and drinks adds up before you know it.

Sign up for the Tastecard and you get 2-for-1 meal offers at eateries all over the country — including chains such as Burger King, Carluccio’s and Prezzo. What’s more, you can get 25% off drinks at coffee shops such as Caffè Nero, 40% off cinema tickets and enjoy discount days at West End theatre shows. 

Membership costs £5.99 a month (which you can cancel at any time), or £34.99 if you sign up for the annual membership. There’s also a 60-day free trial, which renews into a £39.99 per year membership. Not bad if you’re a big foodie who wants to keep eating out minus the big bills.

8. Take your own food

The prices of food can sometimes rack up most of the bill during your day out, so planning ahead for this could help. Phone ahead to whatever venue you are visiting to ask if you can bring juice and some snacks in. This is one of the best ways to save money on days out as the food adds up – especially with a whole family to feed.

Outbuildings Dorset

Some places may be a bit funny about you bringing your own food if they already have food on sale, but if you ask ahead of time and you know you have permission beforehand then you can go all out with a picnic featuring some yummy things. No more paying upwards of £10 for a sandwich on your day out!

9. Always take a water bottle, or 2

Speaking of not buying expensive food on your day out, the price of a bottle of water on a sunny day out is one I definitely resent as I could’ve filled up an empty bottle from the tap. Kinder to the planet and to your wallet!

water bottles to save money on uk travel

You could invest in a water bottle that squashes down small when you don’t need it to avoid carrying a massive bottle around. Or if you don’t mind a larger bottle, Chilly’s bottles keep the water nice and cool, so pick whatever is the handiest for you.

If you drink a lot of water, the price of these bottles will pay itself back pretty quickly when you’re out and about. There’s also a lot less stigma about asking restaurants and cafes to fill the bottles up on the go.

Save money on attractions in the UK

10. Join the National Trust

If your idea of a great day out in England is open spaces and beautiful views you might be able to save money, or at least encourage yourself to go out more, by joining the National Trust.

Save money exploring the UK

A family membership is currently £146.40 a year (correct at time of latest update: 17th April 2023) for two adults and up to 10 children. So jeez, if you have that many sprogs it’s definitely worth the investment.

National Trust properties make for a great day out for all ages, especially since a membership means you can often get free parking, and it’s unlimited, so it can actually add up to a very good value day out in the UK throughout the year.

free parking with National Trust

With the National Trust membership you can visit luxury houses, beaches, nature reserves and beauty spots, and enjoy lots of days out around the UK.

11. Or join English Heritage

Another way to save money on travel in England; you could also join English Heritage. It’s the same idea as National Trust, except it’s the English Heritage sites that are free. There are hundreds throughout England, including Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall.

national trust properties

Take a look at the English Heritage and National Trust websites to see what’s included in each, and decide which is the best option for you.

12. Register for a Blue Light Card

If you work in the emergency services, the NHS, social care, or the Armed Forces, you’re eligible for a Blue Light Card, which provides discounts on holidays, cars, shopping, phones, insurance, and of course, days out.

It costs £4.99 to register for a two-year membership and every now and then cardholders get free tickets for sporting events, theatre shows, concerts and festivals.

13. Use supermarket points for travel

Both Tesco Clubcard and Nectar let you use points for days out in the UK – including theme parks and top attractions. Every little helps, as they say, so keep totting up your points and see how far you are from saving for a big day out.

When it comes to Nectar, don’t forget it’s not just Sainsbury’s shops that will get you points. Collect your Nectar points every time you shop at Argos, ASOS and more (check participating retailers here). You can use them to get discounts on car hire, hotels and experiences on Expedia, money off coffees at Caffe Nero, and to cut the cost of your petrol on Esso forecourts. 

If you have a Clubcard, shopping at Tesco can help you save money on days out in England, too. Clock up the points to enjoy discounts at theme parks such as Alton Towers and LEGOLAND Windsor, look at one of the best views in London with cut-price entry to the View From The Shard, or get money off membership to English Heritage or the RHS.

14. Research attractions annual passes

If there’s a particular attraction in your area that you know you’re going to visit a lot, it can save you money to look at an annual membership.

fun in the new forest

This is great when you’re looking for things to entertain the kids with, as usually they’ll be happy to go to the same attractions over and over if they love it. You can definitely save money on days out by going on the same one repeatedly.

If you’ve found somewhere you like – go, go, go!

15. Go with friends

Check out the group entry prices on most big attractions to save money on travel in England. Even saving a few quid here and there is better than nothing, and hey… the more the merrier!

Just as an example, at Whipsnade and London Zoo you can save 20% on tickets for 10-plus groups. And at Alton Towers you’ll save 30% if you book together online.

16. Ask if your ticket lasts longer

Asking if you can re-use your ticket is never a bad idea, although it’s often not something anyone would think to ask.

weekend in windsor

As an example, if you visit Windsor Castle, it’s possible to upgrade your ticket for free to a year’s pass. This means for the price of one visit you can go as much as you like over the year.

That’s amazing value!

Other attractions in England that do this include The Deep Aquarium in Hull and the Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent.

17. Subscribe to Kids Pass

Entertaining little ones on a budget is no easy task, but with Kids Pass you can save money on a number of family-friendly attractions. A monthly subscription costs just £4.99 (you can cancel anytime) and for that, you receive deals on theme parks, zoos and safari parks, as well as days out at outdoor attractions such as Go Ape.

There’s also cinema trips, restaurants and even family holidays. Seems like a no-brainer to save money on days out!

18. See the sights for less with the London Pass

Heading to the Big Smoke for a day of sightseeing? If you plan on visiting multiple attractions, one of the most cost-effective ways to pay for admission is the London Pass. It covers entry to all the big draws, including London Zoo, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and the Globe Theatre

Commuting in London

Plus, it includes unlimited use of the Thames Clipper, so you get to see the capital from the river. Definitely one of the best ways to save money on travelling in London.

19. Enjoy 2-for-1 theme park tickets with Kelloggs

Buying a box of breakfast cereal could earn you a 2-for-1 voucher for Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Legoland, or Chessington World of Adventures. This is a fantastic way to save money on days out.

First, check your Corn Flakes or Coco Pops have the ‘Free Adult Ticket’ promo. Next, book online via Merlin’s website — you’ll need your voucher’s 10-digit code to claim your free ticket (and make sure you book before the vouchers expire!). 

Then all that’s left to do is scream your way around some of the country’s most hair-raising rollercoasters. 

20. Seek thrills with Merlin’s Annual Pass

Speaking of Merlin, if one ride on Nemesis or The Vampire simply isn’t enough of an adrenaline hit, you can buy a pass that allows up to 364 days’ access to the UK’s biggest theme parks. 

Merlin, the company that runs all the UK’s best theme parksAlton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures, LEGOLAND and Thorpe Park – offers an annual pass with prices starting at £69 for off peak access. If you plan on visiting any of their resorts three or more times a year it could save you money. 

It’s a good idea to renew when it’s time for the Black Friday deals – this is when you’ll get the best price for the Merlin Pass.

21. Bag a great deal with Wowcher

Wowcher has limited-time, cut-price deals on tonnes of attractions, experiences, hotel rooms, restaurants and spa days.

Sign up for their email service to be sent regular offers in your local (or chosen) area. You’ll receive loads of weird and wonderful offers, but amongst them will be some great ideas to save money on travelling the UK.

22. Snag a bargain on Groupon

Like Wowcher, Groupon is another place to get discount deals for cheaper travel in the UK. It’s fair to say that not everything will meet your tastes, but every now and then there’s an offer that’s too good to turn down! 

From spa days to group meals to escape rooms and much more, there are plenty of options.

23. Buy cut-price experiences from Amazon

It’s possibly one of the lesser-known departments of Amazon’s gigantic online superstore, but the tech firm does, in fact, sell experiences – spa days, afternoon teas, indoor skydiving… that kind of thing. 

If one takes your fancy, add it to your wishlist. That way, you’ll get a notification any time there’s a deal on and its price has been reduced. 

I managed to get a great hotel voucher by doing this.

24. Snap up last-minute theatre tickets

Planning a trip to the West End? If you don’t mind leaving it until the very last minute to secure a seat, TodayTix has cut-price tickets for the hottest shows in town, including those that are released on the morning of a performance for an unbeatable price. 

Shakespeare Globe Theatre

Whether you want to see a musical, play or a show that’s off-West End, it’s a good idea to check here first as they often have deals. They also have their Rush and Lottery offers, so you never know when you might find great tickets to an amazing show you’ve always wanted to see, for a fraction of the price. A brilliant way to save money on UK travel if you’re a theatre lover.

25. Get money off Hampshire’s top attractions 

Anyone spending time around Hampshire and the New Forest should check out the latest offers on Hampshire’s top attractions.

One of the more eye-catching discounts is 10% off the Isle of Wight ferry, so you can enjoy a hop across the water for less.

Steam Railway Isle of Wight

You can also take advantage of their free child’s ticket offer on the Watercress Line heritage railway. Choo choo!

Look for regional discount passes like this one in your chosen area as many other counties will have something similar in place to treat their local people.

26. Explore the UK’s forests

It’s easy to forget how fun and magical the forest can seem to kids, so if you’re looking for a free place to entertain them, there are tonnes of activities you can do. You can let them go wild in the woods with their own imagination. You could also try den building, obstacle courses, rope swings, climbing, bug hunting or insect bingo (free from here)… the possibilities are endless.

UK budget travel tips

You could ask them to find ten items and make a list, then swap lists and go find each other’s items. Or why not learn the names of some of the birds, trees and fauna you spot in the woodland? RSPB has a good bird identifier on their website for this.

Most trees you can tell from their leaves, but there are some free apps that will help you identify plants, like Seek by iNaturalist. It’s basically Shazam but for plants and animals. It does need mobile data, but you can take a picture and load it in later when you have Wi-Fi. Fun and educational for curious little ones.

Save money on events in the UK

27. Look out for free local events

Sometimes it’s easy to look to your larger city or borough for the big events coming up, but often there are many great smaller-scale events on your doorstep. Check out your local area for flyers, or sign up to the Facebook community in your local area to find out what’s going on nearby and save money on days out.

From local restaurant openings to sales at local independent shops to mini festivals and events just around the corner, you might come across something really enjoyable within a few miles of your house.

28. Check what’s on Eventbrite

Eventbrite is great for finding lots of different types of events, and many of them are available for free or nearly free. You can even search by ‘free’.

From business networking events to seminars and talks, to kids fun days to fashion pop-ups, there’s a little bit of absolutely everything on Eventbrite so it’s well worth a look in case there’s anything coming up in the area you’re heading to.

29. Sign up to Pokemon Go!

Yes, the Pokemon Go phase was a short-lived viral era of all our lives, but it doesn’t have to be over. In fact, it’s still got a thriving community of players ready to join, so if you love Pokemon, gaming, or you just want an excuse to get out and walk more in your local area, download the app and give it a go.

If you’ve not heard of it, it’s basically a virtual reality app which uncovers Pokemon in your local area for you to catch. Great for if you’re trying to get kids excited about exploring more of the UK.

30. Look up ’30 Days Wild’ from The Wildlife Trust

Head to 30 Days Wild from The Wildlife Trust. It’s an annual challenge where everyone that’s signed up does one wild thing a day throughout the month of June.

You’ll need to make sure you’re signed up so you don’t miss the start, and they’ll send you instructions so you know what to do. It’s usually centered around outdoor summer activities but some of the ideas can be jigged around for most seasons.

Fun, free, and it gets you outdoors and stretching your legs.

31. Do 50 things before your child turns 11¾

This is such a fun one. The National Trust have a list of 50 things to do before you’re 11¾. Most of the activities mentioned are free for kids to tick off their mini bucket list, so you can spend a great day out helping them do some of them.

It gives you all something to focus on that will usually take up multiple days out. Check it out.

32. Sign up to cashback sites

I’ve got a great guide on the best cashback sites for travel. Take a look. I go into exactly how much you can save, and how – and, the best ones to sign up to. There are quite a few out there all offering the same!

How to save money on travel in the UK

See, lots of ways to save money on travelling the UK!

top uk travel blogger

From cheap days out on the bus, to vouchers for meals, and remembering that the landscapes, forests and beaches in the UK are among the most interesting to explore. I hope these money saving tips for the UK help you to explore further. Let me know if you have any UK budget travel tips to add!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *