Awesome Travel without an Awesome Income- How we afford to travel!

holland, afford to travel, cheap travel, paying for travel

Kinderdijk

My husband and I have been blessed to travel all over the world. And the number one question I get about our family travels is how we afford it.

And while I think that is a personal question, I have decided today to go ahead and open up, and share some of the  details of our financial situation, and how we are able to “afford” to travel as much as we do.

travel, greece, olympia,

Greece

I have read many articles about this, and most people say to do things like use reward points and frequent flyer miles, etc. That is not what we do. We do not use credit cards at all, so reward points are out. We only go on vacations we can pay cash for. We aren’t brand loyal for flying, so while we have frequent flyer accounts, we rarely earn enough points with them to get free or reduced fares. And no one else pays for our vacations. We wish our parents would foot the bill, but they don’t.

travel, afford to travel, monaco, monte carlo

Monaco

You might be thinking we must make a lot of money then. But we don’t.

We are solidly in the lower middle class. My husband is a restaurant manager, and I work part-time at home. We have four kids, and probably make below the national average.

London

London

And yet we travel a lot. I am not bragging here, I am trying to illustrate a point. In the last five years we have traveled quite a bit within the US. We have been to many places in Southern California (Palm Springs, LA, Oceanside, San Diego, Anaheim (several times)) San Francisco, all throughout Utah (Bear Lake, Wolf Creek, St. George, etc.), Idaho, Florida, Hawaii, Montana (Yellowstone), Colorado, Nevada, etc. As well as several other places: Rome, Barcelona, Genoa, Jerusalem, Izmir (Ephesus), Olympia, Athens, Savona, Monaco, Haifa, London, Mallorca, Malta, Paris, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, Mazatlan, Brussels, Bruge, Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, Krakow, Trier, the Bahamas, and Durban, South Africa.

Rome, The Vatican

Rome, The Vatican

Some of these destinations were in the same trip, and some were separate trips. We sometimes take the kids, and we sometimes leave them with family. But we go. We try to go on 2 bigger vacations a year: 1 with kids, 1 without. We do some local getaways as well. Sometimes we drive, sometimes we fly, sometimes we cruise. But we always go.

So how do we afford it?  Put simply:  We make it a priority.

Izmir, Turkey

Izmir, Turkey

Here are some of the specific ways we are able to save $ to use for vacations and travel, and save $ on vacation and travel to make it easier to afford:

  1. We don’t have car payments:

    We have 2 cars. I drive a 1998 Chrysler Town and Country that I think we paid about $3k for. My husband drives a 2004 Saturn Ion that was roughly $5k. We decided a long time ago that instead of having a $250-$400 a month car payment we would rather drive older, not as prestigious cars we could pay cash for, and have more discretionary income for travel. These cars are cheaper to insure, and free up a nice chunk of change for travel. If you have a car payment, ask yourself how much more you could travel if you had that much to spend on travel every month.
    Sometimes it is embarrassing to drive an old car, and sometimes it breaks down, but I care a lot more about being able to travel than I do about appearance and social prestige. And a little bit of inconvenience on occasion is worth it to me.

  1. We give our kids a trip for Christmas instead of toys:

    As a family we love to travel, and we really don’t need more “stuff” and so we asked our kids what they would prefer. And about 4 years ago we made the change. What we normally spent on Christmas we started applying to a fun family vacation. The kids still get a stocking, PJ’s and books, and fun things from Grandparents and cousins, etc. but from Mom and Dad they get a vacation.
    On Christmas they get to open up an envelop with the destination and dates we are going. They sometimes get little coupon books for things like, “A souvenir” or “A treat at the airport or a stop on the road trip”. We include any excursions or outings too. The kids love it. They look forward to it. They talk about where the trip might be. They speculate on what activities it will include. And we love it.
    When we have more $ we do something a little bigger and better. And when things are tighter we might do something that is drivable. For example, two years ago we took a week long cruise to Mexico, complete with daily excursions. Last year we drove about 5 hours south of our house to St. George and enjoyed staying in a condo and spending the week at the resort.

  1. We budget for it:

    Travel is a category in our budget. Just like we budget for groceries, cell phone bills, and utilities, we budget for travel. Occasionally we have to dip into our travel fund for other things (that is life, right?) but whether it is $20 or $200, we try to put a little away each month to help with travel. When we get extra money (bonus, tax return, gifts, etc.) we usually save some of it, and use some of it for travel.

  2. We prioritize it:

    I think this is one of the biggest things. We love to travel, and so it is a huge priority for us. That is where we spend a lot of our discretionary income. I rarely buy new clothes. I don’t get my hair done often. I do my own nails. I cook almost every night of the week. We look for good deals on the things we do buy. We trade babysitting when we can. We go to matinee movies. We minimize our entertainment expenses by investing in season passes so that we can have fun all year long without spending tons of money. We spend a lot of time having fun at home playing board games, or kickball in the yard, or watching movies. We try to keep our fun free or low cost. And this means more money is available for travel.

  3. We are flexible with our travel dates:

    This has been a huge advantage for us. A couple years ago, I was browsing online and found a 7 day cruise for the Western Mediterranean for just $250/person. I was able to find flights for under $1000, and 3 weeks later we boarded the ship. But I was only able to do this because we could make last minute work. We don’t typically travel during normal school breaks, or holidays. Part of that is because of my husband’s job, but part of it is to save money. We don’t go to Rome in June, we go in April when we can fly there for less and pay half the price for hotels. By being flexible in our travel dates we are able to see more for less. This has gotten harder now that our kids are in school, but we still do our best.

  4. Shop Deals:

    We keep our eyes open for deals, and we know a deal when we see one. We have an extensive list of places we want to go and see, and a fairly good idea of what the “normal” cost is to get there, stay there, and play there. So when I see a deal for one of those locations, I jump on it. We are deal chasers. We know we want to go certain places. We know we are going to spend a certain amount on travel each year, so we try to maximize the two by finding deals.
    For example, last year I saw flights to Oahu for $300 round trip. We jumped on it and took the whole family on vacation. Two years ago I saw flights to Durban, South Africa for about $1200 each. We had been wanting to go for years, and I had rarely seen the flights under $2000. So we made it happen. If you know what things normally cost, it is easier to take advantage of a deal when it presents itself.

  1. We are Ok with Cheap!

    We aren’t too proud to stay in a less than perfect hotel, fly on red eye flights, or with “crappy” airlines, attend a time-share presentation to get discounted tickets or incentives. When we are in Europe we don’t stay in Villas, we stay in Ibis Budget. We don’t fly first class, we fly coach. We have sat through a number of time-share presentations to get a discount on Disney tickets, or activities in Maui for less. Again it is a matter of priorities. We would rather give up a little comfort if it means saving $ so we can take the whole family, do more, see more, and have more fun. We often fly on Allegiant, Frontier, and Alaska airlines as opposed to the nicer flights with better amenities because it means huge savings for our family. For example, we were able to go to San Francisco for $100 round trip each with Allegiant, the same time of year would have been $350-$400 on another airline.

  2. Spend Smarter:

    We spend on the things that matter to us the most, and save on the rest. For example, we pack our own food and try and stay in condos with kitchens to save on eating. We pack minimal clothes so we don’t have to pay for extra luggage, and realize we might be wearing the same things in a lot of photos. We pay to skip lines so we can see more faster, but don’t pay for guides if we can check out the guide book from the library and learn about the place ourselves.

  3. We own a timeshare:

    We invested in a time-share back before kids, paid it off fast, and really use it. We know that timeshare ownership gets a bad rap, and I totally think in many ways it is deserved. But if you really use it, it is worth every penny. My husband and I bought with Worldmark by Wyndham 9 years ago. We paid it off in just over a year (we didn’t have kids back then, and worried less about things like debt). And we use it. We pay just under $700/year in maintenance dues, and so we maximize our ownership. We watch for inventory specials. We book through our timeshare for the more expensive destinations, and pay for hotels when it makes more sense to pay cash. For example, we have been to Maui several times for a week at a time using our timeshare. Having accommodations paid for helps us get out and do more and see more. In fact, I am writing this post from one of our timeshare properties as we are on a little mini-vacation with the kids. Where you stay can be expensive, so to find a better deal, try some of the ideas in this a post on finding low-cost accommodations.

  4. We don’t pay for extra luggage, food, etc.:

    This is just one example, but the point is, when we travel, we are very conscious of minimizing unnecessary expenses. When we cruise we eat on board, because it is already paid for. If we can take public transportation rather than renting a car or taking a taxi, we do it. If assigned seats on a flight are more expensive, we hope the gate agent will take mercy on us and the other passengers and seat our children by us. We bring our car seat so we don’t have to rent one. We use the GPS on our phones so we don’t have to rent one. We don’t buy the beverage package on the cruise ship. You get the idea.

  5. We Research:

    We research the destinations to find the cheapest way to afford the things we want to do. In other words, we often invest time in order to save money. I wrote a lot about this on my London post, which you can see here. But if we can find a pass that gets us into stuff for less we usually take advantage of it. Taking a few hours to research what there is to do, and how to do it for less can save a bundle, especially when there are 6 people involved.

  6. We rarely use groups or guided travel:

    We instead buy (or check out) the guides, and educate ourselves, book our own connections, and figure things out for ourselves. There is something to be said about having someone else arrange everything for you. We used a service like this for a 2 week trip we went on in Europe. It was our first time overseas, so we loved having someone else arrange all transfers, guides, hotels, buses, and activities. It made the language barriers etc. less intimidating. But had we taken the time to figure those things out for ourselves, we would have saved probably a third the cost of the trip, or more. You pay for the convenience, so if you can find a way to do it yourself, figure out your own transportation and activities, educate yourself about the sites you visit, etc. then you will save. Again, it is a matter of priority.

  7. We drive.

    Flying 6 people to anywhere is going to be expensive. Even if you get a cheap flight. And so when we can we drive. It takes longer, which can be an issue if you have limited vacation time. But we have found that we can make the drive a fun part of the vacation, and it saves us a bundle.

  8. We do whatever it takes to make it possible:

    This is probably a little bit of repeat, but travel is something we really value. You can read about why I think everyone should travel here. When I really want to go somewhere and we can’t afford it, I look for a way to earn extra money, whether that is donating plasma, or taking on more freelance work, or clipping some coupons to save a little here and there. I look for ways to make it affordable, which might mean staying with a friend, or saving the more exotic destinations for when we have a bigger budget. I look for ways to use money we would have been spending anyway and apply it toward vacation, for example, I am always happy to get a trip or getaway for a birthday gift. We skip anniversary gifts and instead go somewhere.

  9. We put in the work:

    If you aren’t willing to do the research to find the deals, or make sacrifices (like eating out or driving a nice car), then chances are you will find it harder to afford the kind of travel you want without a big income. We wouldn’t be able to afford to take our family of 6 on vacations if we didn’t do the work to find a good price on flights, accommodations, and activities. If we weren’t willing to plan, pack smart, cook, research destinations etc, and sacrifice other things.

I hope this helps. I truly love being able to explore so many parts of the world, and I wish we could afford more travel than we currently enjoy. As I come up with new ways to make travel more affordable for us, I will add to this list. But now I want to know, what are your tricks for being able to afford travel?

Signature-Rachael

About Rachael

I am Rachael, I have a passion for all things travel. I have an incurable wanderlust, and a need to see and do. I have four littles that call me "mom" and I am currently wading through the ever changing tides of parenting. I am figuring out what works, and what doesn't. And, I have a passion for food. In fact, I have an entire website dedicated to food www.eazypeazymealz.com. I love to eat, cook, and try new things.

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62 Responses to Awesome Travel without an Awesome Income- How we afford to travel!

  1. Kim @ 2justByou July 25, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    Wow! I’m so inspired by your post. I’m really glad that you decided to share it, because it’s opened my eyes to see that I can make a family vacation happen. I have to make it a priority. As someone living on a really tight budget, you’ve made me see that I’ve just got to do it. And that I can. Thank you for your excellent tips and advice. It’s going to be more than helpful, because it’s a motivator.

    • Rachael July 25, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

      Thank you Kim. I hope you can make it work. One thing I like to keep in mind is that we can’t always do Europe or something huge, but if we prioritize it, we can usually find a way to afford something fairly local at least.

      • mywonderfuldayblog May 19, 2015 at 11:05 am #

        Great article. I too love to travel. Love the tips! I pin my destinations on a world map for added inspiration.

  2. Christine July 25, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    These are some really great ideas. I think we need to look an larger vacations from another perspective. Thank you so much for sharing these awesome tips!

  3. Bonnie @WEMAKE7 July 26, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Great ideas! =) We too didn’t have car payments up until recently. It really helped with having a little extra money.

  4. Coupondipity (@Coupondipity) July 26, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    You travel just the way that we travel! We, too, are not in a high financial class, but travel is a priority. So we live without the big toys, bells and whistles and instead make travel our passion!

  5. That's Mashed Up (@thatsmashedup) July 26, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Great piece! I love the point about getting rid of unneeded bills, and having less unnecessary stuff in order to afford these opportunities! I really want to take my son on lots of trips. Great pointers!

  6. Russ R. July 26, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    Now that’s what traveling is about. A friend and I were talking to other friends the other day about our travels. One complains that she wants to go here & there and that she’s envious because we’ve been to a lot of places already. We tell her to stop planning and just get on a plane & start making it happen. You and your husband are the perfect examples of how they make traveling happen. If you really want to do it, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it work. No excuses. Great post, Rachael.

  7. Russ R. July 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    I’m like you in a way. I don’t use frequent flyer thing because I want to fly at a certain time so I usually adjust to that and since I don’t have a credit card by choice, I pay in cash.

  8. rochkirstin July 26, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

    it’s nice that you can really put all your efforts of saving money to prioritize your will to travel. Why not come to Philippines sometime soon? :) It’s great and fun here!

  9. Jacqueline July 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    You two are beyond adorable! I cannot believe you have 4 kids! This is seriously a commendable way to go on vacation, but I wish your parents and in-laws would foot the bill too 😉 I am even broker than you, like actually broke not sort-of, and overseas trips are way out of budget. I have 2 dogs and can’t afford pet sitters. I really wouldn’t want to vacation without them anyways- so my strategy is the same, but on a smaller scale. I plan a big camping adventure every summer and the 3 of us go have a blast hiking and stuff. You and your husband are awesome! Vacations on credit cards are so dumb! I would never go into debt to pay for a good time. If you can’t afford it, don’t go!

  10. edwardsmom July 26, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    This is a great article. I love your tips. We also have 4 kids, so we put travel on hold for awhile, trying to figure out how to afford it with 6 people in tow. So this is very helpful!

  11. Gabby OBrien July 27, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    My boyfriend and I get the same question! We don’t travel as much as you guys do, but we do our fair share. A couple of weeks ago we went to Cancun. We don’t have any kids, so we do save some money there, but we do have car payments, student loans, and rent. I enjoy being able to travel and would also like to make it a priority. I would like to do a couple of trips a year.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

      Gabby,

      Find a way to make it work. Travelling is such a great reward. Cancun is beautiful! Thanks for visiting.

  12. celebbabylaundry July 27, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Budgeting is very important when it comes to travel for anyone!

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      Exactly. Budgeting is important for all aspects of life. Thanks for visiting.

  13. Paula Parker July 27, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    What a great article. Both informative and motivational. I believe in spend smarter too. I have no cable or cell phone bill. Your whole list is very smart and also can be used in many situations. Great job on this blog!~

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      Paula,

      No cable or cell phone! That is dedication! Thanks for visiting!

  14. Kristin Yach July 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I love your attitude. We love to travel too. and we generally take a family vacation instead of presents at Christmas also! great tips!!

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

      Kristin,

      Thanks! We appreciate you stopping by.

  15. Rosey July 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    I love that you’ve been so many places. I love the Christmas plan for the kids too, how fun!

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

      Rosey,

      It makes Christmas less of a headache for mom and dad, less shopping, less wrapping, more memories! We appreciate you stopping by.

  16. Amber NElson July 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    If you want to travel, you definitely have to plan for it and save money for it.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

      Amber,

      It really is all about priorities, if it’s a priority, you’ll make it happen. Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Ann B (@AnnBac9) July 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Great tips! Being flexible with travel dates is a great way to save money. It is crazy how different prices can be on two separate days.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

      Ann,

      I love looking at those flex calendars to determine dates. I don’t know why Tuesdays are so much cheaper than Wednesdays, but it doesn’t make much difference to me. Thanks for stopping by.

  18. Rebecca Swenor July 27, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    Awesome tips for saving so you can travel. I have not traveled for years and wish I could just go some place every 5 years which would be a treat for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

      Rebecca,

      Setting goals to travel can definitely provide motivation to save and take those fun trips every 5 years. Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Jessica P July 27, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    I think that is so cool that your children get to enjoy vacations as a Christmas present — I don’t think I would have missed the gifts at all if it meant seeing the world. I totally agree with just about everything you said – I haven’t gotten to travel very much, but budget is so important..as well as shopping around for the best date and having an older car!

  20. William Stone July 27, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    I really enjoyed your post, and I loved the idea of giving the gift of travel for Christmas. You also hit the nail on the head…make it a priority and you will find a way to make it a reality.

  21. Michael July 28, 2014 at 3:25 am #

    I think this is so cool…..your kids are so blessed to be able to see and experience so many places,people and cultures.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

      Michael,

      Thanks! We feel very fortunate. Thanks for visiting!

  22. Maria Constanza Oller Martin July 28, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    Wow some great ideas there it was easier to travel when our kids were younger now with teenagers it can be hard ot get organized and hard to find 4 tickets for a good price or for them ot agree where we will go

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

      Maria,

      I guess we’ll have to see how much easier it gets to travel with older kids. Finding airline tickets at a good price is probably one of the best ways to make it work. We appreciate you stopping by!

  23. Fashion Travels (@tauyanm) July 28, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    we are ok with cheap too! and like you we instead of toys we spent the money for travelling grat tips!

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      Who needs more toys, and more clutter when you can have more memories! Thanks for visiting!

  24. Christine July 28, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    This is an absolutely awesome post! I especially liked the car payment one. We currently fund our travels by simply living it…we live abroad. But next year we are thinking of making the move back to the US, and not only will we need to fly to my husband’s home country every now and then, but we also love being abroad. I hadn’t thought of cars like that before! This is a great list to stay focused and remind a ‘free-spirited’ adult what is important in life!

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

      Christine,

      There are lots of little ways to scrimp and save and pay for the vacations you will want to take. We appreciate you stopping by!

  25. suzanne barber July 28, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Wonderful post!!! Would love to travel more with my kiddos :) Great tips! thanks for sharing!!

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

      Suzanne,

      Kids love travelling almost as much as the parents do (well at least our kiddos). Thanks for stopping by.

  26. Katherine Rose Coronel- Rivera July 28, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Your tips are great. Your lucky to travel to many countries. It’s my dream to travel around the world and one thing that we are considering is the budget. I’m sure you have so many memories from the places you’ve visited.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

      Katherine,

      Budgeting for travel is the best way to make it happen. Thanks for visiting.

  27. John Lopez July 28, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Wow, you have been around the world. I like that you got rid of car payments, sweet move.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

      John,

      No car payments does free up a lot more money each month. Thanks for stopping by.

  28. Leira Bhagwani Pagaspas July 28, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

    You guys are so inspiring!! I love your tips!! I learned a lot of things just by reading your blog post.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

      Leira,

      Thanks for those kind words, and thanks for visiting!

  29. brijdeepk July 30, 2014 at 1:22 am #

    wow that’s some great piece of advice… loved all your points about how to manage.. although we are in Europe and we are not crazy for holiday sand travels; but something like these we follow.. like we got married in January and instead of making our Paris trip in the summers, we did it in March, so it was much cheaper.. also I do my own nails, hair and make up, plus cooking.. all this saves a lot :)

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

      When you really think about, there are a bunch of little ways to save and if travelling is a priority all the money you save elsewhere can go straight into the travelling fund! Thanks for visiting.

  30. Onica {MommyFactor} July 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    I think traveling is one of the best things you can introduce your family to. Some great tips and ways to budget for travel.

    • Anne Banks August 13, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Onica,

      We agree, travelling is a fun family tradition! Thanks for visiting!

  31. April October 29, 2014 at 7:04 am #

    Fantastic post! We love to travel too! We are a family of four and it can be hard but if you really want to do it you can! I didn’t realize the tip about sitting through time shares meetings. Something we’ll have to try!

    • Anne Banks October 29, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

      April, my husband and I are sitting through one on Friday so we can get a weekend getaway. Thanks for visiting!

  32. Alisha January 8, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    I’ve been searching for a family in a similar situation as ours that is able to travel with their kids. I came across this post and finally found it! It looks like our kids are similar in age, our oldest is 8 and we have 4 total. Six people living on one income. I work part time but don’t make very much doing it. I’ve been looking through your travel posts and maybe I have missed it but I would like to see one where you really go into detail about where you find your deals and how you plan. We have never been out of the country so trying to plan at trip to the UK without a travel agent and no international travel experience is overwhelming.

    • Anne Banks January 9, 2015 at 8:22 am #

      Alisha, we are planning to do a follow-up post about searching for deals for travel. It can get very expensive with several kids and only one income. Stay tuned for more tips about travel deals. Thanks for visiting!

      • Alisha January 16, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

        Great! Looking forward to it!

      • Alisha May 22, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

        Just checking back with you on this post. Have I missed it or are you still working on the post about searching for travel deals? Looking forward to reading it!

        • Rachael July 23, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

          Sorry for the delay, we are actually working on a book for families who want to travel on the cheap, and there is a lot more going into it than we originally had planned, so it is taking a LONG time. I will do my best to let you know when it is done. As for searching for travel deals, the best advice I can give in a comment is to simply check regularly, know where you want to go and the typical prices, then use travel alerts to inform you when prices drop below a certain amount. Look on Groupon for your desired destinations. Check Air BNB for accomodations, etc. There is so much involved in cheap travel. What part are you most interested in getting help on?

    • Rachael July 23, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

      Alisha,
      The UK is very expensive. If you can manage to go off season with your schedule, try to, as this will help you save a fortune in airfare. You may also want to consider flying into a cheaper destination then taking a low cost Ryan Air flight into London. Check Kayak, as they have a calendar option that will let you see the cheapest times to fly. Once you know the lowest cost times of year, look at flights on Travelocity, which I have found to be very competitive. If you can combine flight and hotel it might save you a lot.
      I have posted about how to save money in London specifically with a London Pass, and public transit card for getting around, so be sure to check that post out.
      Food in the UK is extremely expensive as well, so I would say try to pack some PB and bread to cover lunches, and maybe take some snacks. Honestly it might be worth paying for an extra bag to be able to take some snacks and other foods, as it really is expensive to eat there, plus you would then have luggage space to take souvenirs home. And try some of the Chinese restaurants, sounds weird, but they are good, and a lot cheaper than some of the other options. It may also be worth it to pay a little more for a hotel with breakfast included.
      For lodging, try Air BNB as hotels are pricey. Or consider staying a little further out, and spending some money to get a metro card, as an extra 10 minutes on the train could save you big $
      All of this is in regards to London specifically as I have not traveled much outside London in the UK.
      Hope it helps! Sorry about taking forever to respond.

      • Alisha July 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

        Thanks so much for the info! I’m anxious to read your book!

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