This post details the estimated UK cost of travel in 2023. We have separate budgets – one for shoestring travellers and one for those looking for a slightly more comfortable Britain backpacking budget. Further down there are details on paying for things and typical travel expenses.
UK Cost of Travel in 2023
Shoestring Backpacker Budget
- US$60 per Day | £50 per Day
The UK is well known as being an expensive country to visit and our suggested UK backpacking budget of £50/day is relatively high, even by most European standards. It is not the most expensive country in the region though with a typical Iceland backpacking budget a fair bit higher, while travel in Norway and Switzerland costs considerably more.
The biggest expense in the UK is generally accommodation which tends not to be cheap. Prices do vary around the country though and there are usually much more favourable midweek rates when compared to the weekend or during national holidays. Couchsurfing or work exchange opportunities are good options to save money on the cost of a place to sleep in Britain.
On a more positive note, travelling around the UK isn’t that expensive as it is a pretty small country. Flying isn’t really necessary at any point unless you want to visit Northern Ireland. If that’s the case there are a host of budget airlines that cater for that with flights from £20 or less plus baggage costs, which can be more than the flight itself if you have a big backpack.
Getting around in the UK can be very cheap but it really does help to book trains and buses in advance when possible. This can all be done online via The Trainline, while Megabus offer some extremely cheap coach travel between the big cities, again if you book early enough.
Eating and drinking out remains expensive though and you can easily blow £50 on a night out alone in most UK cities. If you’re looking to save a bit of cash, then do what many Brits do and either pre-drink or start your night in Wetherspoons, a popular chain of pubs that has the best deals on drinks and can be found all over the country, with many major cities having several.
More Comfortable UK Backpacking Budget
- US$80 per Day | £65 per Day
As a general rule, London and the Southeast of England is considerably more expensive than the rest of the country. However you can still get stung badly in cities like Edinburgh, which is another major tourist destination. £65 per day may be a more suitable UK backpacking budget in these kinds of places.
On this budget in cheaper parts of the country such as Wales or Northern England, you can afford to stay in the best hostels and be a bit less rigid with your planning and just buy transport tickets on the day which can be considerably more expensive than doing it in advance.
One other bit of good news for budget travellers in the UK is that since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016, the Pound has taken a hit. Therefore visitors from many countries should now find it slightly more affordable than it was before Brexit, although as in many countries, the costs of many basic goods and services are rising sharply which largely negates any benefit from a weakened pound.
How much do things cost in the UK?
|Train from London to Birmingham (Fastest trains: 1 hour 20 minutes)||From £15 (Book in advance for better fares)|
|Coach from Manchester to Glasgow (5 hours)||From £30|
|Meal in a local restaurant/pub||£10-20|
|Local beer in bar/restaurant||£3.50-5.50|
|Dorm bed in a hostel||From £15|
|Budget private room||From £35|
|Stonehenge Admission Ticket||£20|
|Travel insurance for backpacking the UK||Depends on your age/circumstances – Get a quote from Heymondo in under a minute!|
One of the good things about London and the UK is that a lot of museums are free to visit. However some other attractions can cost in the region of £20 for entry. That will eat into your daily travel budget but even as a shoestring traveller, you should still be able to visit a few attractions and sites of interest during your visit to the UK.
UK Budget Travel Tips
- Shop in cheaper supermarkets like Asda, Morrisons, Lidl or Aldi to save money on food and any other items you need.
- Look for free activities like walking tours and to cut your daily budget.
- Buy train tickets in advance. You can often make great savings by booking more than 7 days in advance. It helps if you are flexible and are able to travel outside of peak times (generally considered to be 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning and 4:30 to 7:00 in the afternoon).
- Consider travelling by bus/coach. This is often the cheapest way to get around the country, particularly in areas with limited train services.
- Consider self-catering or look for cheap lunchtime options such as Greggs (a popular British bakery chain). Street food is also growing in popularity and quality in most major cities and can be a good budget night time option.
- Avoid taking taxis which can be very expensive, particularly in London. Research public transport options when booking your accommodation as you ideally want good access to a train station or regular bus route.
- Don’t spend more time than is necessary in London. Although it is by far the UK’s most popular travel destination, the British capital is notoriously expensive.
Currency – British Pound
€1 = £0.88
US$1 = £0.83
Apart from the odd retail store with dubious exchange rates, Euros are not accepted anywhere in the UK with the exception of a few parts of Northern Ireland which are close to the border to the Republic of Ireland, which uses the Euro. If you are considering hopping over the Irish Sea then check out our Ireland backpacking budget.
Contactless payment is widely accepted in the UK, although there may be minimum spend requirements (e.g. £5) so it’s useful to carry some cash too.
This UK backpacking budget (including prices and exchange rates) were last updated in March 2023.