Costs for a short stay in London.

Old Mar 24th, 2011, 04:11 PM
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Costs for a short stay in London.

My stepdaughter will be travelling to Sweden in August to study for a semester. Studying nursing, and she’s worked hard to get her placement there in Malmo.

She will travel via London, staying there for four or five nights to see friends and relatives. Couch surfing, so accommodation is not a cost. But we’re trying to get a handle on likely spending money for London.
So some random questions about costs. How much would these things cost - roughly:
A half hour taxi ride?

Train from Heathrow to “downtown”?

Half a pint of beer in a pub?

A cheap meal in a pub or a curry house?

A movie ticket?

(Dare I say it?) A Big Mac?

A ticket on the “tube”?

I’d appreciate the help. So will she!
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Old Mar 24th, 2011, 04:24 PM
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If I can say so on Fodor's - the best guide for these types of questions is on Lonely Planet (IMO). Go to their web site for the country (or in this case London) and look at the money issues - they give a sample of expected costs - usually pretty accurate.

And you can get exact information on the cost of a tube ticket on line as well. However, if you look, I think you'll see lots of discussion on this board about Oyster tickets or similar discount approaches to travel around London and since she'll be there for more than a day or two, it will pay to look into those options.
JoeCal is offline  
Old Mar 25th, 2011, 12:21 AM
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The real answer if she's short of cash:

A half hour taxi ride
At least £30-£50. The same journey by bus (which is how EVERY 20 year old, and the overwhelmng majority of 75 yr old Londoners, would do it) : £1. It's hard to see ANY reason for a grown-up English-speaking student EVER to use a taxi.

Incidentally: one of the very few safety rules necessary for young women in London is about taxis. Black taxis (the English for the kind of cab the outside world thinks of as "London taxis", though they come in lots of colours) can be hailed on the street with complete confidence: in their safety, in the skill of the driver, and in the certainty she'll need a mortgage. No other kind should ever be used. Minicabs (other kinds of car plying for hire) abound, but it's very strongly advised never to hail one, or to accept a solicitation from one. Prebook, using the advice at

Train from Heathrow to “downtown”?
Don't even think of wasting the money. See tube below

Half a pint of beer in a pub?
£1-£1.50. But look at specials on pints

A cheap meal in a pub or a curry house?
"Cheap meal in a pub" is generally a tourist-conning oxymoron. London is awash with "all you can eat", generally veggie-oriented, £5-£7 deals in Chinese and Indians

A movie ticket?
Why? Cinema in London's not significanty better than she'll get on DVD at home - or in Sweden. Few students will waste time on anything so boring. Prices vary massively. Student specials from a few quid: West End first runs cost into mid-double digits

(Dare I say it?) A Big Mac?
Why waste money? Benji's sandwich joints are all over the place and much cheaper. If you can't eat for £3 a time, you're an extravagant fool

A ticket on the “tube”?(sic)
The English is tube. Under no circumstances think of buying a ticket. Ever. She MUST have a pass: if travelling alone, she almost certainly needs an Oystercard. The easiest way to organise this is to tell the staff at the Tube ticket office at her Heathrow terminal the postcode for where she's staying. They'll then sort her out.
A zone 1-4 Oystercard, valid during peak and offpeak hours, is £10 a day

There's a huge gap between how cost-conscious students in London happily (well: ish) live on £10,000 a year and what feckless tourists do to prove how expensive the city is.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Mar 25th, 2011, 12:39 AM
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She needs to make sure she's got some student ID, since there are often discounts (the London friends and relatives might be more clued up about this than I). The major museums and galleries are free anyway.

As a nursing student she might be interested in
and these (not free, sadly):
PatrickLondon is online now  
Old Mar 25th, 2011, 07:39 AM
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Train <red>tube</red> from Heathrow to “downtown”?

Where exactly will she be couch surfing? It might be nowhere near 'downtown'. London is huge and how she gets to where she's staying will depend on where the rels/friends live . . .
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Old Mar 27th, 2011, 02:38 PM
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Thanks all for your comments and advice.

Flanner, I'll make sure that she's awarwe of the risk of hailing cabs - although money (or the lack thereof) would probably prevent her taking cabs.

JoeCal, I remember looking at costs in LonelyPlanet a while ago. They listed the cost of a 24 shot roll of colour film! It's dropped off the spending plan now.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2011, 03:26 PM
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My daughter is a student in the UK now (grad) and also did study there as an undergrad a few years ago. Plus I travel like a poor student despite being a full fledged working adult (and a nurse). I can say I totally agree with Flanner and Patrick's advice. In six trips to London in the past decade I have never taken a taxi. The tube gets you everywhere, the buses do too and are more fun and cost less. An oyster card is the way to go. Also London is a great walking city. Distances on the tube can be deceiving, it's easy to think you need the tube to go a few stops only to find you could have walked the distance for free.

There are sandwich shops everywhere but the cheapest way to go is to get sandwiches, salads, etc from Tesco, Sainsbury (grocery stores) or Marks and Spencer (Food Shops). They are far superior to pre-packaged sandwiches in the US. She'll be there in August, it will be picnic weather.

In addition to the museums Patrick mentioned is the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincolns Inn. Free. I loved it (as I said, I'm a nurse) but even my daughter thought it was great. The Old Operating Museum was also great.
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