One of the best ways to save money when visiting London with children is to arrange a home exchange with a London family. And there's no better place to find a great choice of home swap offers than on Home Base Holidays - a London based service! Browse over 300 current exchange offers in London.
Once settled in, there are many ways to cut down on expenses (for a start, you will have a fully equipped kitchen and can prepare some meals and packed lunches 'at home'). I am now delighted to introduce guest author and Londoner, Janis Curry, who provides valuable tips on making the most of our great city:
Attractiontix – they guarantee the lowest prices and they’ll send you an e-ticket right away so you don’t need to worry about your tickets getting lost along the way.
You can buy tickets to individual attractions, but we’d recommend getting a pass (1, 2, 3 or 6 day passes are available) – you’ll save money, even if you only visit one or two attractions per day. With the passes, you also get some extra discounts for London restaurants, free movies, free bowling and skating, and a glossy visitor's guide. Better still, you won't be wasting time standing in a neverending queue when you could be out enjoying yourself - with a pass you just skip straight to the front of the queue. They also have some fantastic discounts on dozens of hit West End Theatre shows like the Lion King, Les Miserables, Billy Elliot and other must-see performances.
Get an Oystercard and enjoy cheap bus and tube journeys
Walking is a great way to see London, and you’ll find that Central London is actually pretty easy on foot, with lots of points of interest and places to stop for a bite to eat. You could even take some guided walks with London Walks - there is a brilliant Harry Potter walk every Sunday afternoon that your children will love. If you want to go somewhere a bit further afield, by far the easiest and cheapest way to get around is using public transport. If you’re planning to do quite a bit of travel by bus and tube, you should consider getting an Oyster card for each adult in your group and just adding enough credit to get you through the holiday – these smart little cards cost about £2 each (plus your fare) but will not only save you a lot of time and hassle, but they automatically recalculate your fare to make sure it’s the cheapest possible, so you save a lot of money. The £2 isn’t wasted either - you can also keep the card for your next visit to London. Kids under 10 usually travel free on public transport – there are a few odd exceptions which you can read about here.
For those with impaired mobility, baby buggies or lots of suitcases, click here for an accessibility guide showing which stations have step-free access. Planning in advance will make your journey much easier!
There is also an excellent tube map showing all of the public toilets and baby changing facilities on the underground – click here.
Visit some free museums, galleries and attractions
London has some of the most remarkable museums and galleries in the world, and many of them have hands-on exhibits and family activities as well as baby changing facilities and buggy access. Some also have lovely soft play areas for the really little ones. For the most part they are absolutely free, and even have picnic areas for you to enjoy your packed lunch.Click here to read about family friendly museums and attractions.
We can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be rained on while in London. It’s part of the charm, really. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do indoors without feeling cooped up – click here for over 100 rainy days out. You’ll thank us!