Budget Breakdown: 8 Day Solo London Trip Budget
When planning a solo trip, one of the main things to think about is the budget of your trip. How much your flights are going to cost, the cost of food, accommodation, activities, transportation, the list goes on. This is especially true when you’re planning to visit metropolitan cities like London, because it’s a more expensive city to visit.
Should that deter you from solo traveling? Absolutely not! The budget and finances for traveling to London solo certainly didn’t stop me from planning my trip! Rather, I did my research and started saving money ahead of time so I could afford to travel solo and do the things I wanted to do.
With that being said, if you’re looking to visit London solo as well, it helps to have an idea of the kind of budget to set. Specifically, what the budget or cost of a solo trip to London is based off another solo traveler. Well, if this is you, you’re in luck! This post will break down my overall budget for a solo trip to London, the cost for each travel category, and the suggested budget for other solo travelers!
These numbers were from my solo trip to London in March 2022. Overall, this is just a general budget breakdown and guideline. Feel free to tweak this budget breakdown to fit your own individual travel wants/needs for London!
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Total Cost of my Solo Trip to London (2022)
The big question: How much did my 8 Day Solo Trip to London cost? In total, it cost me about $2,352.39. If we take into consideration the charges I wasn’t able to get receipts for, I’d round that number up to about $2,400.
That’s a lot of money! I was taken back a bit myself when I did the calculations. However, that number includes EVERYTHING, from flight tickets to accommodations, food, transportation, and more! Taking that into consideration, I can see that number being accurate for a solo trip, especially to a big and expensive city like London.
If you’re looking to take a solo trip to London and you’re trying to create your own budget on the costs of things, I’d recommend setting a budget of about $1,600 to $2,500. Of course, depending on the type of traveler you are and what you’re looking to do, this range will fluctuate. You can make it cheaper or take a more luxurious solo trip.
Pre-Departure Costs (March 2022)
Last year, COVID was very apparent and countries required extra testing, entry papers, and other things which would add to the cost of your solo trip. At the time in March of 2022, the UK (England specifically) required specific things in order for you to enter the country.
Entry Requirement Costs
This was England’s entry requirements in 2022:
- if you were full vaccinated (which I am) you had to BOOK and PAY for a COVID test to be taken AFTER you arrived in the country
- The COVID test could be a lateral flow or PCR: £8.99-£49
- you had to fill out the passenger locator form 48hrs BEFORE you arrived in England: FREE
- you needed proof of vaccination (CDC card, digital vaccine card, etc.)
Thankfully, the passenger locator form was free and I already had my COVID vaccinations. The only thing I would’ve had to pay for was the COVID test once I arrived in the UK. However, a month prior to my trip, the UK government changed a lot of the entry requirements. So in the end, I didn’t have to pay anything for COVID entry requirements, because they lifted those!
Besides the COVID entry requirement costs, I had created estimated prices and allowances of things I needed prior to and during my trip. The things I took into consideration were:
- flight tickets: I calculated about $335-$517 for the average cost of a ticket
- accommodation: I tried to allot about a $70 p/day budget for a hostel as my maximum point
- travel insurance: I estimated about $20-$60 for insurance, depending on the company
- activities/day trips: the trip allowance I gave for the budget was about $300
- food: I tried to give a daily budget of $20-$30
- transportation: I allowed about $20 a day or $180 over the duration of my trip. This was just public transportation, not including Ubers
Once I narrowed the type of travel insurance I wanted, the trips and activities I wanted to do, the exact flight I went with, I had more concrete numbers to work with. But prior to that, I created a general allowance for each category of travel, which shaped the general budget range I was looking for.
Total Pre-Departure Cost
After I decided the exact flight, accommodation, activities, and trips, I went ahead and booked everything! I didn’t want things to get booked up and risk not getting what I wanted. So, I bought most of everything in advance prior to leaving London.
This total pre-departure cost was $1,519.39. Most of that total was my round trip plane tickets and accommodation. The rest were the activities, day trips, and travel insurance. The post-trip total was much higher than that.
Don’t worry, the actual numbers are coming up soon!
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Solo Trip Budget
Now we’re getting to the fun part, seeing the actual numbers of the budget! Each category I created for this specific solo trip has the total cost based off my purchases prior to and during my trip.
As I’ve mentioned above, the total cost of my solo trip to London over 8 days was $2,352.39, give or take a few dollars. But let’s take a closer look and break down each category and cost, to see how the total cost was budgeted out.
Plan Ticket Cost
My direct, round trip plane ticket from Newark to London was $543.67. At the time, I decided not to have a layover, as COVID entry and departure requirements from countries was still around and I didn’t want to possibly get caught up in that. The risk of not making it in or out of the country was just too much for me to try to do. Therefore, the executive decision was made to get a direct ticket to and from London.
When you’re traveling internationally, even if it’s for a few days, having travel insurance is a must! You never know when you’re going to need this and it’s better to be safe than sorry. I went with GoReady travel insurance and the total cost for my insurance for 8 days in London was $58.75.
There were cheaper options I could’ve gone with at the time. However, I decided to invest in that additional medical and tech coverage, since I was bringing a lot of expensive electronics and I felt safe knowing I was covered for medical emergencies.
This is the second category that really upped the budget cost. The total cost for 8 nights in an hostel was $518.60. I found the hostel on Hostelworld and though it looked cheaper on the app in British pounds, it was more expensive when it was converted to US dollars.
In hindsight, even though it was on the more expensive side, I was very pleased with my stay at the Selina Hostel in Camden. So, I’d say spending that money was worth it. I’m ALWAYS willing to pay extra for good accommodations.
My 3 day trips cost me $335.79 and the View from The Shard experience all cost me $62.58. In total, that’s $398.37. Was it a little over the allotted activity budget I wanted to have? Yes, it was. Do I regret anything? Nope! I enjoyed all the activities and day trips I did, so it was worth it in my eyes.
The total cost of transportation was $285, give or take a few dollars. This included public transportation but also Uber rides as well. I tried to take the tube whenever I could. But there were times where I just opted to take an Uber, because it was more convenient or easy for me.
If you’re in London, I highly recommend walking and taking public transportation. It’ll be cheaper and you get to see more of London that way! Whenever I wasn’t on the tube, bus, or in an Uber, I was walking around.
Overall, I spent about $87 on food in London. This included the snacks I purchased at Sainsbury’s, fast food, and meals I purchased throughout the stretch of 8 days. I’d say that’s not bad, considering that it could’ve been more expensive.
The remainder of the costs which I acquired in London amounted to $151. Between the souvenirs I got people back home, pictures from The Shard, and a COVID test to enter the USA, it cost over $150. This was back in March 2022, so yes, you still had to take a COVID test to enter the USA.
Extra Spending Money
Having a little extra money on the side never hurts, right? When I go on any trip, I always take out some spare cash to have on hand. I do this, because you never know when you’re going to need to use cash. Although the UK is pretty good at using contactless payment, it’s better to be prepared.
For my solo trip to London, I decided to take $340 with me. Sounds like a lot, I know. But I knew I was going on a few day trips, so I needed cash to give to the tour guides. Plus, I wanted to buy some snacks, reload my Oyster card, and pay for select items with cash instead of a card. *I didn’t include this extra money in my total pre-departure budget. It’s just something extra, just in case money. But after my trip, I took note of how much I spent and added it to the total cost for the whole trip*
You know what? I practically spent ALL THAT AMOUNT! I only had about $30 left by the time my trip was over. So, I did use quite a bit of that extra money and I’m so glad I had it with me! It truly came in handy and that was $310 that wouldn’t be charged to a credit or debit card.
TIP: Instead of taking out $300 all at once, I took about $100 from each paycheck and put it towards my solo travel fund over 3 months. However, if you’re planning your trip months in advance, you’ll have more time to save more! Even contributing $20 a paycheck can go a long way.
Expected Budget vs. Actual Cost
Now that we’ve gone over the budget I created prior to my departure for London, and we have the total cost of my trip which I calculated after my return to the USA, let’s see how I did!
Expected Budget: $1,662 – $2,144
This is the budget I estimated for a 8 day solo trip, in London, based off my research. Including plane tickets, accommodation, activities, expected food and transportation needs, and travel insurance, I calculated a budget range for myself which ranged from the low end to the high end.
Though I did allot myself an extra $340 of spending money for my trip, I did not include this in the expected budget. Sometimes, I don’t use this extra money but it’s still good to have just in case. The expected budget, at least for me, consists of expected expenses for a trip and not extra spending money.
Actual Cost: $2,352.39
Once I returned home, I calculated the actual cost of my solo trip. This is with all the expenses I had, plus the usage of my extra money. Since I did end up using most of the extra money I brought with me for food, my oyster card, souvenirs and whatnot, I calculated that into my final cost of the trip.
Was I over budget?
Well, I expected this solo travel to London for 8 days to be between $1,662 to $2,144. I ended up spending $2,352.39. I did go over budget by about a couple hundred dollars. That’s not too terrible, in my mind.
Not to mention, this was the total cost from start to finish. From plane tickets to souvenirs, PLUS that extra spending money I had to use to tip the tour guides and buy other things. If I didn’t calculate the extra money I brought and spent with me into the final cost, my total trip cost would be around $2,042!
Creating this budget helped me to be more mindful of my spending habits while abroad! Although I still went over my budget, looking back on my trip, I utilized almost every cent I had on things I actually needed. However, I also see where I might have spent too much money and could’ve looked for other alternatives to lower the cost. For instance, not taking so many Ubers, booking cheaper or free activities/day trips, cheaper flights, cheaper accommodations, etc.
I do not regret what I spent, because I had the time of my life and I consider it to be a learning experience! Now I know for my future solo trips to London what my budget should look like to take a cheaper trip.
How I Made my Trip Budget
Creating a budget for a solo trip can be quite a fun yet daunting task. There’s so much to take into account that it can give anyone a headache. Especially back in early 2022 when COVID restrictions were still in effect and you had to budget in COVID testing, entry papers, and more.
If you take your time and start your planning and budgeting process in advance, you’ll have time to adjust your budget or the components within your overall budget.
Remember those pre-departure costs? Well, prior to my trip, I calculated a budget range to stay within for my trip. I did the research, looked up the things I wanted to see and do, and took note of ALL the prices I could find. This meant finding both the LOW and HIGH end prices of EVERYTHING. That way, I could create a budget range and see how much I’d want to spend on this trip.
Here’s how I did it:
- wrote down my categories (flight, accommodation, food, transportation, etc.)
- researched different groups (the names of different airlines, tour companies, hostels, etc.)
- researched the cost for each company/agency/activity (i.e. cost of roundtrip ticket with American Airline v. United)
- recorded the information within my categories
- created a budget range for each category (i.e. flights range from $300-$500)
- created daily allowances for certain categories (i.e. daily allowance for food is $20, transportation is $30 p/day)
- calculated the estimated total budget range for the solo trip
- calculated estimated cost which had to be paid prior to the trip (booking flight, hostel, day trips, travel insurance, etc.)
This took time and a lot of revisions to get right. I got there in the end and you will too. Though I went over budget a little bit, I didn’t go over by a huge amount, thanks to my planning, research, and calculated budget range. Without it, I most likely would’ve gone overboard and spent way more money than intended.
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