Do We Have Enough Money For A Trip To England?
December 17, 2013 2:04 PM   Subscribe

We are a married couple with one child who is old enough to require their own room. If we're leaving from the midwest of the US, and plan to stay for two to three weeks, is $9k USD a realistic rough estimate of the amount we ought to budget for the trip?

I understand that coming up with a truly accurate budget amount will depend on our specific plans and decisions and timeframes. But I want to be rock-solid certain that the trip is definitely possible before I commit to doing the research that planning the specifics will entail. So, if we have $9k available to spend, should I start hitting the books?
posted by Ipsifendus to Travel & Transportation around Manchester, England (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
$9,000 for three round trip trans-Atlantic tickets, two rooms for 14-21 days, plus food, activities, and transport sounds pretty skimpy to me.

Like "National Lampoon's European Vacation" level of good times.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:14 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

This is impossible to answer unless you can tell us when and where you are going. Price vary enormously across England. Also, does that include flights? Food? Rental car? Public transport? Hotels or Bed and Breakfast? Christmas, school holidays or height of summer?

You CAN do it on that money, and arguably on much less, but the parameters that make it possible or not are yours to set - standard of accommodation, places to visit, times of year, everything you want to do, movements once within the country etc. It's just not possible to give a definitive answer with the information supplied.

You need to investigate the kind of holiday that you want to have, then price it and then work on budget (compromising where you are willing to) to make the budget work until the holiday falls out of your comfort zone.
posted by Brockles at 2:15 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Here's my ballpark figure of 2 week trip in Europe.

3 tickets - $2700
28 hotel nights at $150 each = 4200 --try finding rooms in local hotels
$100 a day for food for each of you - $4200
$100 a day for sightseeing stuff and internal travel for each you - $4200

-Roughly $15,000 there. You could get an apartment with 2 bedrooms that might be cheaper, use airline miles for tickets, but this is a middle-of-road trip cost (nothing fancy, nothing budget).
posted by sandmanwv at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Why does the kid need his/her own room? That's going to raise the cost of your trip significantly.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:30 PM on December 17, 2013 [12 favorites]

Tix from Minneapolis to London seem to be running ~ 1k each on the low end in Jan. ($3000)
ONE hotel room per night at cheap end seems to be about $85 per (two weeks ~$1200)
So... 14 days minus that airfair and hotel is about $340 per day ~110 per person per day

I'd say it's doable, you might have to be pretty careful near the end and certainly no extravagant travel. Do the math figure it out.
posted by edgeways at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2013

Will you be staying put in one place, or traveling around England?
Everything in London is more expensive than it is in, say, York, for example.
Coach travel tends to be less expensive than train travel.
Hostels are less expensive than hotels.
How much does your family need to eat in a day? You can eat for cheap if you are willing to subsist on bread, cheese and such from the supermarket, rather than having three full meals a day at restaurants. How comfortable are you (physically, mentally) with walking around all day (cheap, good sense of direction, can read a map), versus riding around in a sightseeing coach or grabbing a taxi (more $ but arguably less hassle)?
England can be a great trip, and you have lots of options! Good luck.
posted by Schielisque at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

As the others have said: *where* in England? If you're going to London, then no, that's probably not enough, unless you plan on staying in a very budget hotel or hostel. For comparative purposes, my own recent trip to England, which lasted a bit over two weeks, ran me close to $4K, and I was a) staying in a dorm for a good chunk of that trip, b) doing almost no pricey tourist-type things, and c) primarily surviving on sandwiches. $9K for 3 may be doable if you aren't invested in having creature comforts besides the basics.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:43 PM on December 17, 2013

If you go during the summer, the flights may be closer to $1500+ RT rather than $1000 during the off season. Even 2-star hotels in London are closer to $200-250 a night during summer as well. It would be doable and tight in the off season as long as you don't spend much time in London. If you do go during the summer, you're going to have a hard time, especially if you're not flexible about your child needing an extra room.
posted by quince at 2:53 PM on December 17, 2013

If you're staying in one place, or staying a full week at 2-3 locations, look into Several places are less expensive if you book by the week (or even month if you plan to stay put for 3 weeks), and you could get a 1-2 bedroom. I found several in London that could keep you in budget.

I don't think I ever spent more than 50USD/day on food when I visited London, but I was happy as a clam with just a boxty and a galaxy bar, so YMMV.
posted by mochapickle at 3:09 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

In the touristy town I live in I could get you a nice single and nice double hotel room for £100/ night total. In London a dump will be twice that. Consider getting an apartment if you want a week in London. In the summer try university halls of residence if you want a tight budget, both in London and other towns and cities.
posted by biffa at 3:12 PM on December 17, 2013

You can do it for $9K. It may mean some cost cutting from your ideal 3 week see everything romp, but you won't be begging on the streets. Shoulder season (not the busy June/July/August months) would be your friend here for air and hotel rates, but be careful about weather. I think that $200/day per person for food + sightseeing is really high, even in London.
posted by soelo at 3:22 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think a single bedroom at 2 weeks, or separate bedrooms at one week sounds a lot more do-able for $9,000. But I would look into the AirBNB suggestion.
posted by Brittanie at 4:19 PM on December 17, 2013

You can rent an apt. for less than the cost of 2 rooms, and then cook some meals or get take-away. That's what we do, and it saves quite a bit of money.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:56 PM on December 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have been able to put together extremely reasonably-priced packages from Virgin Vacations. Note: I haven't actually taken any of these vacations; I just keep putting together vacation packages and thinking about some day taking a vacation. Heh.
posted by erst at 5:34 PM on December 17, 2013

We spent two weeks in London this summer, family of four adults. We rented an apartment through VRBO that had two bedrooms. I think you should look for one bedroom apartments with sofa sleepers or futons. We ate most of our meals in the apartment. Transportation is very inexpensive, the bus and tube systems are easy to use, low cost, with great coverage. The best thing about London is the free admission to most museums. I think you could do it on $9000 if you can get a great rate on the plane tickets and find a decent one-bedroom apartment.
posted by raisingsand at 5:36 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know about England specifically, but hotels in Europe frequently have triples, which should be cheaper than two rooms.

The main factor here is airfare. You can probably do the rest of the trip on $5-6000. So it's a question off when you're getting and if you can get a good deal on flights.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 8:31 PM on December 17, 2013

My sister and I spent a week in London in February 2011 for about $1600 each. To echo what some other people have said, we saved money by traveling at the off-season, renting off AirBnB, cooking instead of eating out and hitting a lot of free attractions. I'd estimate our costs were $750 for the flights, $250 each for the room, and then another $75-80 daily for food, travel and entertainment.

We were able to pull that off because of a pretty specific set of circumstances, though. If you have to travel during summer because of school, you'll be paying more like $1200 each for airfare. A bigger place to stay might run you closer to $1000 a week. Depending on your plans or food costs, your daily cost might be closer to $100 a person. If that's the case, then the trip may be out of your reach.

Summing up, I'd say that $9000 will be enough for two weeks if you're able to be frugal, but most likely not enough for three weeks at all.
posted by dislegomena at 10:43 PM on December 17, 2013

I've vaguely been planning a trip in the opposite direction, and as with the US,it depends where you go. We wanted to go to New York, then I found that a 'cheap' room is £150 a night and the many things we'd want to do would bump up the cost further, so probably not do-able on a trip when we want to see a couple of cities - but we could take a trip just there in the future. The same applies here - London is expensive, Edinburgh is expensive to stay in during August, and what you want to do/see/eat will make a difference in terms of price. People always say that, say, Paris is expensive, but we stayed in a dorm-type hotel (more money to spend on board games and French sweets!) and enjoyed the sandwiches you could get from bakeries and ended up spending comparatively little on food - if we'd gone on the same budget with the intention of eating in fancy places, it wouldn't have worked.

Norwegian do long-haul flights from London to NYC, Florida and LA for about £180 each way if you book in advance. I would imagine the prices in the opposite direction would be similar. I don't have any real idea of how easy it is to get to those places from the Midwest as I'm here and not in the US, but it might be useful to know. Aer Lingus and Icelandic Air seem to be the next cheapest.

Train travel is VERY expensive here unless you book in advance on longer routes. A single, booked twelve weeks in advance, from London to Manchester is about £15 if you can get the low price. If I boarded a train now to Manchester, it would be £150 walk-on fair. Two of us are paying £125 one-way from London to Edinburgh, and that was booked way way in advance - buying our tickets on the day would cost twice that.

If you're in London, I'd recommend the Time Out Cheap Eats book which you can get from Amazon. There are loads of small supermarkets all over the place in which you can get 'meal deals' of a sandwich, drink and snack for about £3, but that will help you out in terms of proper meals. Chains like Pizza Express (very kid friendly) often do deals which you can get access to via a website such as If you go to a pub - many do food and are welcoming to children unlike bars - then two pints of beer and a pint of Coke in Soho will cost you about £15, but some chains like Wetherspoons and Sam Smiths tend to be cheaper (the former is fairly divisive but does do real ale).

Avoid school holidays - half term weeks are in late Feb, sometime in May and mid-October, plus Christmas, Easter and the summer holidays if you can. Things get busy and/or expensive. Budget hotel chains that are fairly reliable are Premier Inn, Travelodge, and you can sometimes get cheap deals on places like The Thistle if you look in advance - my mum and I shared a twin room overlooking Kensington Gardens for £150 for two nights last year. I think YHA hostels have family rooms as well as accommodation for single travellers.

As others have said, most museums are free here. Entry to London Zoo is £17 for adults, and going round there would be a whole day.
posted by mippy at 4:51 AM on December 18, 2013

I think you can do this quite easily.

I'd start with a vacation package, that will help a LOT. We went to London with Monograms, and it was pretty great. We paid a flat rate for airfare, hotel, airport transfers and a couple of tours. We stayed in a Hilton by the Edgeware station and it included a full English Breakfast buffet. We ate heartily in the morning, grabbed a Pret a Manger for lunch and found some funky neighborhood places for dinner.

Another way to do it is to check out a site like One Fine Stay. Where you rent someone's apartment while they're out of town.

We had friends who had a great experience with AirBNB last month in London.

A London City Pass for museums and other attractions will save you some money.

And you can get Oyster Cards for London city transportation and a BritRail Pass for trips outside the city.

Another money saver might be a "suites hotel" where there's one bedroom and a separate sitting room. You can put the kid on the sofa in the living room. 51 Buckingham Gate gets great reviews on Trip Advisor. There are kitchens, so that's a bonus, less eating out. (Eating out is catastrophically expensive in Britain.)

I would encourage you to make this happen. England is a fabulous place to visit, full of art and history!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:20 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I roadtripped a LOT as a kid with my parents. Still do occasionally at 25. I really don't see why they need their own room - that really does feel like a luxury not a requirement. We did trips almost every year, and just stayed at a Motel 8 or whatever was on the road at 2am. If you want a homebase for 2 weeks, maybe spring for something that's not quite the cheapest thing, but I think the idea that the 16 year old requires their own room is kind of...extra privilege that they themselves can pitch in on if they really want it.

Maybe if you're moving about from place to place, one or two days for yourselves is nice so book the occasional extra space, most hotels will have two double beds and you just deal. Hopefully you're only crashing there and doing all sorts of fun sightseeing otherwise.
posted by aggyface at 1:49 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

And just in case no one's mentioned, you can buy an Oyster Card and take the tube directly from Heathrow to London (assuming that's where you're headed). It's so much cheaper.
posted by mochapickle at 2:51 PM on December 18, 2013

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