Friday, November 08, 2013

How to Have a Relaxing English Country Weekend on a Budget

Today I have a guest post by Marcela De Vivo once again and this time she is sharing tips on how to enjoy visiting the English countryside on a budget. Enjoy!

There are few landscapes richer than the English countryside; although England is small enough that you can easily travel the width of the island on foot, there’s enough history, culture, and scenery in between that it could take you a lifetime to truly experience it all.

The royal green fields bordered by hedgerows; the rolling dales and seaside moors; and the countless, quaint country villages of thatched roof cottages and wooden pubs seemingly frozen in time: this idyllic countryside is the perfect place for a quiet weekend getaway from the buzzing metropolis of London, or the overcrowded tourist spots like Oxford or Stratford-upon-Avon.


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Image courtesy of Flickr
 

The best part, of course, is that if you know how to travel savvy, a trip through England’s countryside won’t break the bank.  All it takes a little planning and, if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be on your way to your dream trip, on budget, in no time!

Log Off

Keeping yourself connected while travelling abroad can be VERY expensive.  This is especially true in England, where it is common practice for most places, even high-end hotels, to charge hourly for wifi, regardless of it’s speed. International smartphone plans can get pricey, and there are a lot of hidden charges to be wary of. And, if you’re journeying deep into the countryside, it’s not like there’s going to be a Starbucks on every corner for you to catch a few free Mbps.

If you are in desperate need of a steady internet access and plan on bringing a computer, go local and buy a Wifi Dongle from a UK provider. That will provide you prepaid wifi on-the-go, and you can choose your data plan based on your budget.

However, question first if you do actually need that connection. If the aim of your vacation is to have a relaxing weekend, why get yourself bogged down by technology? Spend your time enjoying what you came to see: take in the beautiful scenery, breathe in the fresh air, and spend time exploring local sites or just mingling with the locals over a pint at the pub.


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Image courtesy of Flickr
 
Leave the laptop at home. Bring your smartphone, but turn off data roaming and leave it in Airplane mode. You’ll save yourself the hassle—and some expensive charges when you get back home.

Cut Down Travel Costs

There are several ways to cut down travel costs during your trip. If you have your trip planned out beforehand, look into whether or not it would be more cost-effective to travel by rental car or public transportation. England has a great rail and bus system to get you from city to city, but if you plan on visiting multiple destinations in one day, or if you want to venture deeper into the countryside, having a car is a great asset.

At the same time, consider your accommodations. Do you need to stay in a nice hotel or bed-and-breakfast in each town? Do you even need to sleep in every town you visit? As mentioned early, England is a small country and the perfect place for making day-trips around a central location. In most cities with a tourist connection, there can be found a hostel that’s part of the YHA, the Youth Hostel Association. You don’t have to be a “youth” to rent a bed for a few nights, and these hostels are inexpensive, well-kept and great places to spend a few nights and meet new people.

Most rooms are male or female, containing six beds (three bunk beds), but if you want a little privacy you can book 1 or 2-bedroom rooms. These often need to be booked in advance, however, as opposed to be the bigger rooms, which often have a few beds open reserved every night for the playing-it-by-ear travellers.



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Image courtesy of Flickr
 
As for visiting historical sites (and trust me, almost everything in England has some sort of historical tie), be economical in choosing where you visit, and HOW you want to visit it. For some of the bigger sites, like castles or forts, you can enter the grounds for free, but entry to the actual site could set you back up to 20 pounds. Usually the grounds of a landmark building are amazing all on their on their own.

If you are a history buff looking for a history-rich trip, however, look into getting an English Heritage Membership, which could cut your costs dramatically. 48 pounds will get you access to over 400 historic landmarks like castles, manors, Roman ruins and abbeys. Not to mention you get free access for your kids.

Eat Responsibly

Food is one of the biggest parts’ of any travellers budget. Eating out for every single meal can get expensive, so again having an idea of where you’ll be going each day and what you’ll be doing will help you keep a tight leash on your spending.

When possible, consider making your own meals. For example, if you plan on driving or hiking for a few days, stop by the local Tesco’s and buy sandwich and snack food that will make several good, on-the-go meal. This will keep you from having to stop for a big, costly lunch—because the truth is, in England, most of the meals you get will be big! Traditional breakfasts, lunch, AND dinner all contain hearty, fried foods that can be delicious, but also taxing on your wallet (and waistline!)

Having brunch or afternoon tea instead of lunch is another great way to cut down the cost of meals. Avoid eating at a restaurants or cafes attached to tourist attractions, too. These will most likely charge much more than the little pub or tea house down the lane.                                                                        



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Image courtesy of Flickr
 
               
And finally—relax! If you’ve planned ahead and gotten a good sense of your budget, you won’t have to sweat the small details once you’re on the road. You can enjoy the full experience and immerse yourself in the quiet beauty of the English countryside.

And even if things don’t turn out quite the way you expected them to… remember this: there’s no such thing as a bad travel experience, only great travel stories to tell when you get home!

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in Southern California. She enjoys traveling with her family and knows that although it can be very expensive, there are definitely ways to cut back on your budget. She contributes to the Bellezza Spa blog, where you can read more of her work here. Follow her on Twitter today!

4 comments:

Chris Lee Vella said...

Great stuff Dori! :) Would love to visit England again. Hopefully sometime next year! :)

Sissym Mascarenhas said...

Dear Dori,

You spent good advice to make a trip enjoyable and without spending much.

Happy Sunday!

:)

Sissym Mascarenhas said...

Dear Dori!

Happy Thanksgiving my friend!
Enjoy the holiday!

Kisses

Dori said...

Chris,
I'm so glad you enjoyed this! I hope you get to visit again soon. There is so much to see :)

Sissym,
Yes, there are many things that you can do on a budget. I do it all the time :) And thank you for the Happy Thanksgiving. It was great! Hugs :)