Dirt Cheap UK
May 18, 2008 5:32 AM   Subscribe

How to spend a month or so in the UK as cheaply as possible?

I'm a visiting American student and my housing expires late June. I study theatre and am keen on attending the Edinburgh Fringe, which is quite expensive. I still have a few spots I'd like to travel to, but not enough of an itinerary (or bank account) to sustain me until August. I can't work because I'm no longer a student here, so what's a very cheap way of passing a week or three in the UK? Camping? Couchsurfing? Flying to Eastern Europe via Ryanair and staying there instead?
posted by Ndwright to Travel & Transportation around United Kingdom (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You can possibly find short-term rooms on gumtree, or you could couchsurf (though couchsurfing for a month is going to be tough). Camping is probably the least invasive upon other people, and you could stay pretty much where you want to, but if you have to pay for a place every night it could end up costing you almost as much as a normal room.
posted by beerbajay at 6:15 AM on May 18, 2008

Can you find a fringe show to act/tech for? Student productions will be rehearsing in the time period you need to be busy for, and in my experience can find cheap (ie sharing with lots of other people in the production) accomodation for useful people.
posted by Omission at 7:11 AM on May 18, 2008

not staying in london will help but dirt cheap in the UK is nearly impossible if you are exchanging from US $. I do agree on gumtree and if you do have to stay in london (you didn't mention a city), you could check out the clink hostel, which is nice and sometimes has beds in 6-8 people rooms for ten GBP/night.

but yeah, consider stuff way outside of london if you can. you should be able to find something.
posted by krautland at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2008

If you have a student visa (or pre-entry clearance for a stay of less than six months), you can work as much as you want out of term time until it expires.
posted by awesomebrad at 8:24 AM on May 18, 2008

Youth hostels, around £12-£15 a night. With 3 weeks to kill you could do a grand tour around the highlands.
posted by Lanark at 12:15 PM on May 18, 2008

Best answer: The very cheapest way is probably to join WWOOF. As long as you don't mind dirt and bugs and working outdoors, you should be able to get free meals and board for as long as you like. No one is going to care if you've got a visa because no cash changes hands. And June/July are the nicest months to be out in the English countryside.
posted by boosh at 2:16 PM on May 18, 2008

Sorry if I'm being Captain Obvious here, but since you mention money as a concern (and attending the Fringe as your goal)... have you sorted out your accommodation and tickets for the Fringe in Edinburgh itself for this August? Edinburgh is expensive by UK standards, but in August, between the Tattoo and the Fringe, you might find prices double or triple what they normally are. Events and hotels/hostels normally sell out well in advance. If you have sorted yourself for the Fringe, terrific - but if not, get that sorted first before figuring out the rest of your cash woes.

If you do have enough of a visa to work, do it. Summer means tourists, and if you're halfway presentable and reliable, you can get a job fairly easily working in hotels or restaurants in tourist areas. I'd get out of London for this, as you'll be paid minimum wage. Assuming you're between 18-21, that's £4.60/hr. London has a much higher cost of living, as well as an influx of tourists all its own in the summer putting the squeeze on things, but that £4.60/hr holds all over the country. I'd look at areas like the Lake District, Scottish Lochs, Chester, Cotswolds - places with lots of tourists, American and otherwise - check out their tourism websites - contact hotels/restaurants/pubs advertising on the sites and see where that gets you. Some of these places might even give you discounted lodging, which is a major bonus.

Other than that, temp - stress to the agency that you want flexibility over anything. You might only get a day or two every so often, but it's better than nothing (and a lot better than £4.60/hr, usually)

Good luck!
posted by Grrlscout at 2:28 PM on May 18, 2008

Response by poster: I forgot to mention I'm not studying in the UK, I'm studying in Ireland. My work permit, even if it weren't expiring, doesn't cover the UK. I've applied for a few jobs at the Fringe, and whether I get work there or not will determine whether or not I go (I've been looking at housing there, it's eye-poppingly expensive). Thank you all for your input.
posted by Ndwright at 2:58 PM on May 18, 2008

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