Guest post by Laura Porter
People will always tell you London is an expensive city but I live here with a young family and I'm not a millionaire. Locals know where the deals can be found, and visitors often don't, so I'm here to share some tips to show you a trip to London can suit anyone's budget.
I write the About.com London Travel site and the London for Free pages are some of the most popular with ideas from the unusual ceremonies to the many free museums and galleries.
Accommodation and food are usually the biggest part of your vacation budget and by choosing a Home Exchange you have already reduced those costs. Don't let dining spoil your frugal planning as there are many Budget Restaurants in London and I've also got a list of ideas on how to eat in London for under £5.
Walking is an excellent way to get around London and you'll see so much more but if you need to travel longer distances then make sure you have an Oyster Card, which can be bought before you arrive, as cash fares on tubes and buses are more expensive. There is also daily capping on lots of travel so once you reach the maximum daily fare all your other journeys are free. There's further good news for families as children travel for free on London transport but you may need to order a photocard in advance.
Then what about London's West End Shows? You would expect all tickets to be very expensive but I've got lots of tips on how to save money on theatre tickets.
If you discover a lot of the attractions you want to visit are not free then consider a sightseeing pass that covers a lot of the biggies so you may want to plan a few days seeing the hard-hitters such as the Tower of London and St Paul's Cathedral.
As well as these ideas, I like to have some vouchers printed and in my wallet at all times from Smartsave as they can get you discounts at attractions, restaurants and more. These are great is you want to be spontaneous as you do not need to book in advance for a discount.
There are also great offers to be found on the 'mob buying' sites which offer amazing discounts and once enough people commit to buy you all get the deal. My personal favourite is Groupon, but others include KGB Deals, Living Social and Wahanda. Sign up as soon as you know you are coming to London and buy some deals in advance.
I hope you can now see London is not prohibitively expensive; it's all about knowing where to find the bargains. I hope I've managed to start you on the right track here.
Laura Porter lives in London and writes the About.com London Travel site.