Visiting London During the Royal Wedding

In salute to the Royal Wedding about to occur in the UK, I am repeating an article that originally ran on TravelingMom.com called “10 ways to See London on the Cheap”. If you are one of the lucky ones about to embark on the city for this once-in-a-lifetime event, you are going during a high tourist time so you’ll need some tips from someone in the know.  We hit London every year, visiting family and friends, and I once lived in the wonderful town.  In addition, my mother-in-law is a royal family enthusiast, so if you have any questions about either London OR the Royal Wedding, comment here and we can answer.
Here is the article which might include some useful tips for your trip:
London Tube MapLondon is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world, and it is, indeed, expensive.  But don’t let that scare you.  The exchange rate is really good for Americans again.  When I was there two weeks ago, it was $1.48 to the pound (UPDATE: it is $1.61).  There are all types of activities for people of all ages.  Here are 10 quick tips on seeing the town on the cheap:
1. All day transport passes
If you are going to be going to be making stops in various zones, go for an all day pass which costs around £5.40 per adult.  Kids ages 5-10 are free. 

2. Free Wifi
Turn off your iPhone service but leave it in airplane mode.  You can access it in a lot of cafes and public spaces.

3. Cheap food does exist
Indian food is always a delicious option all over London.  If you or your family is not that adventurous, there is yummy fish & chips all over, as well as pizza slices for a pound (which usually comes with free salad).

4. Free museum entry
The museums are spectacular and completely free.

5. The parks are like museums
The parks in London are fantastic – they are well-maintained and the gardens are stunning.  There are wide fields to run around in and playgrounds swarming with children at all times of day.  The parks are perfect for strolls and picnics, and they serve as good meeting places.

6. Theater tickets do not have to cost £60 per person
There are many options to get theater tickets, so do not ever take the box-office as your only option.  You can purchase half price tickets at TKTS Leicester Square or at Brent Cross.  When I lived in London as a student, I bought student tickets, as well as rush tickets, so always check with the box office on your options or pick up Time Out Magazine which also provides details.

7. People watching
London is such a multi-cultural city, with people living and visiting from all over the world. You can just camp out anywhere – at a park, museum or restaurant – and take it all in.  Being American, I struck up many conversations with people from all over the world.

8. Buskers
There are fantastic musicians all over London, particularly in the tube stations underground or at Covent Garden, which you can stand or sit for as long as you desire.  Just be prepared to be asked to tip – and if you tip less than a pound, they will be insulted and will remind you that this is what they do for a living.

9. Cell phones
Do not use your American cell phone; otherwise you’ll have a very, very large bill waiting for you at home, which you won’t want on top of all your other expenses.  You can purchase a pre-paid phone for usage in London that you can pick up there.  Once you buy it, you can save it for future trips abroad.

10. Book ahead online and plan ahead
If you are heading to a major tourist site like the London Eye, do book online ahead of time to avoid lines.  Bring your maps, guide books, water bottles, snacks, sun cream, as well, as these items do cost more when you stop to purchase them in town.

The important thing is to have a good time.  Don’t make yourself completely over-concerned about money; but do remember that you have a great time by becoming a part of the London lifestyle.  Take it all in, explore.  Live like a local for a day if you can by following some of these tips.

Disclosure: I am a contributor to TravelingMom.com and this article was first printed there.

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  1. Missed my chance to visit the city on time. would have used some of your tricks to manage my whole week there. will surely be using those tips while my next visit to London.

  2. And as for the royal wedding? It’s 2011…that wedding will be ALL OVER the media before, during, and after. They are two people like everyone else and while the spotlight is par for their course, I say, let them enjoy THEIR day. I sure hope they can carve out a few moments alone.

  3. This has been bookmarked! I have been wanting to go for years now and I think I may wait one more so I can bring the boy when he’s 4 and he’ll be able to appreciate some sights. I’ve always worried a bit, knowing it’s such an expensive city. I suspect that like anything though, setting a budget and sticking to it will be the MO. I will definitely reach out about potential hotels. Thanks for this post.

  4. I’d love to visit London. But, I’m conflicted about the Royal Wedding. Do I care or not? Yes! No! I’m not sure. Kate Middleton is really pretty. Prince William is…not cute.


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