Everyone has always warned me how expensive London is...
If I would have told my friends that I'd be setting up a £10 a day budget for myself, they most definitely would have not believed me, and also would have got a good laugh.
But, here I am! Day 7 of my £10 a day budget plan, and I am THRIVING!
SO, Let me just start by saying I have never set a budget for myself, ever.
I've always just been cheap, so i've never had to worry about excessive spending.
On my second day of London travels, I decided that
1) I was madly in love with traveling
which meant that...
2) I needed to make my money last as long as possible
(because I am not working a job that pays while traveling, unfortunately)
(... just yet)
so, I set up a budget... of £10. Don't know why I decided on that minimal number - but I did. This £10 applies to everything besides my hostel cost (which I'll post a blog about too).
Here are a few things i've learned on how to thrive with £10 a day:
➺ Hostels with free breakfast
This one is a big one! Choosing a hostel that offers a free breakfast in the morning allows you to fill up on cheap bread and generic dry cereals... joy. Ok, well the oatmeal is good. Obviously not my ideal way to start my morning but if you want to be sneaky you could use some of that bread for a midday PB&J, or sandwich. And maybe some of that dry cereal for a snack (I say dry because i'm still waiting for a hostel to offer soy or other milk alternatives to put in my cereal)
➺ Buy a box of individual tea packs, and ask for hot water
This one is for those of us who get tempted to buy a drink when were out an about. Yes, coffee and tea shops are fun - but not so fun when you are on a budget. And those daily £3 really add up quickly! I went to a local grocery store and bought a box of individual yogi tea packs - £2.50 for 20! That's 20 cups of tea for the price of one at a coffee shop. Now you can literally go anywhere and ask for a cup of hot water and they will give it to you for free. Also, drinking hot water triggers something in your brain and makes you feel more full. So this is a great mid day sorta thing when you start to feel a bit hungry.
➺ Make your own morning coffee
If you are a coffee drinker and reeeeeeeaaaallly need that cup of joe - make it yourself (that's if your awesome hostel doesn't include it already - which so far ALL of mine in London have). Same thing as tea - it adds up.
➺ Itsu, Pret, EAT., Leon, Tesco
These are all chains that have quick, easy, and fast grab n go food for CHEAP! Were talking meals for £5. I've been so surprised with the vegan options at all of these locations and what they offer. Even more impressed with how good the food actually tastes (should I be embarrassed for admitting this?) EVEN BETTER? Itsu offers HALF OFF their food the last 30 minutes they are open.... um yes, I will buy every - already cheap and now even cheaper - avocado roll and veggie potsticker you have on your shelf.. thank you very much.
➺ Indian Food
Indian food is abundant in London. We're talking every corner! and it's amazing.
oh yeah, and damn filling. Indian food has three main staple ingredients: potatoes, chickpeas, and rice. Protein + Carbs. PERFECT. So find your spot and indulge. It'll warm ya up, and fill ya up. I ate strictly Indian food my first 5 days in London and honestly regret not eating it everyday because it's so delicious.
➺ Borough Market
Let me just start by saying I LOVE THIS MARKET! It's an outdoor market with all types of vendors, and surprisingly (or, not so surprisingly for London) there are vegan options at most of the booths. (I said most, not all.... you'll see for yourself. Just bypass any booth that has legs on display....) And let me just say two words:
Yeah. Free samples for your hearts desire. Go to the bread booth, and grub.
They have some kick ass street indian food that is vegan and less than £5.
Also a vegan burger booth that has a beautiful display of more burgers than I could count while passing by the crowd hovering around their cashier - and ALL VEGAN!
➺ Eat a late lunch
AH The too early to be dinner, too late to be lunch sorta meal. This is a solid game plan for a true cheapo. Free breakfast at the hostel - a few cups of tea later, and bam! It's 4 pm and you're ready to EEEEEAAAAAT. Do it. and Do it BIG. Just don't do the BIG MAC at McDonalds... health bills later will counteract the whole £10 budget thing you are doing right now.
➺ Quantity over Quality
OK OK! I hate that I am saying this, but it has to be said. A budget means you are now responsible for making food choices that are in your best interest. Do you splurge on a fancy £5 organic chia seed parfait , and get a small meal for £5. or do you put in £8 to get a whole plate of curry and treat yourself to a £2 vegan millionaire shortbread at Leon's? Budget means not always the most glamorous food, but hey! I can guarantee you'll much more remember that time you took a £16 train ride to Berlin, not necessarily that £16 plate of pasta you had at that one place with the white table cloths.
➺ Hostel with Kitchen
Hostels with Kitchens are important because this allows you to buy food cheaply from Grocery stores, and cook it yourself! Don't really need to talk more about this, you get it.
➺ Water is free
Water costs nothing to drink. Skip your sodas, teas, and juices. They seriously add up. Learn to love water! In London it is safe to drink water from the tap, so don't bother spending money on bottled water. Treat yourself to one nice bottled drink, and save the bottle to reuse and fill with H20 during your travels.
➺ Drinks are NOT free
Going out to pubs and bars is EXPENSIVE. Fun, yes. But man - this lifestyle could easily triple your budget spending. £10 goes before you know it at a bar especially once you start drinking. Thankfully I don't go out much (anymore... RIP to the college party girl in me), and when I do it's a special treat that I can actually ENJOY.
If you do go out - i'd suggest setting a separate budget for yourself and take advantage of happy hours! Also two of the hostels I stayed at had downstairs bars which both of them gave me a free drink voucher to use. If you want to hop around hostels this could be a good way to get free drinks.
➺ People in London are nice
OK. So I wouldn't reply on this, but it does happen. Let's just say you can be hopeful. Some of the people I encountered in London were extremely kind. Throughout my journey I was given a handful of free stuff. One day I spent no money what-so-ever and it was a beautiful thing. I had stopped at a coffee shop to journal and use their wifi (ooops... sorry I had no intention of buying anything) and before I knew it I looked up and a Barista there was insisting on getting me tea and even dropped me off a vegan pastry. Later that day, I was at the right place at the right time and got an entire plate of vegan curry handed to me. Little things like that do happen, and man, when you are on a budget you truly understand what it means to appreciate random acts of kindness like that.
➺ Energy Dense Snacks
Stop by one of the local grocery stores and pick up some filling and nutrient dense snacks. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruits were my go to because they are so energy packed. For just £1-£2 each - I would get a bag of mixed nuts, and some dried fruit and make a trail mix to keep in my backpack. Nuts are high in healthy fat, and fruits are fiber powerhouses that will make you feel fuller for longer.
So, from one aspiring cheapo to another - I hope this inspired you!
You absolutely can live off £10 a day in London without it feeling like torture...
I've truly been enjoying my meals and feeling good!
annnnnnd, it's a wonderful feeling when you actually do treat yourself,
talk about a new understanding of gratitude and appreciation!
If the vegan queen herself, the one who has always spoiled herself with fancy, expensive meals and the same girl who makes sure to eat at every vegan restaurant in a 10 mile radius, can do it with minimal effort - SO CAN YOU!
I believe in ya, sistas and bruddhas alike!
With L O V E,