By Mommy Points
After an overnight flight from the US, we arrived in London to experience the magic of the Olympic Games.
Having been to the 1996 Atlanta Games, I think I was mentally prepared for a semi-repeat of that experience. I was just a teenager in 1996, but I distinctly remember the heat and the crowds. However, London is dramatically different; it is almost chilly here, and while there are many people around, the city seems quite able to handle the crowds. I was shocked when we breezed through London’s Heathrow Airport in a matter of mere minutes.
An Easy City to Navigate
What has really stood out for me so far is how well-prepared London is for visitors to the Olympic Games. Even the Underground (Tube station) maps have been retrofitted to indicate the locations of all the Olympic venues. That is very helpful, especially since you are given a Travelcard for free unlimited travel using the Tube on the days that you hold tickets to an Olympic event.
But if you happen to visit London post-Olympics, it’s possible to save money in a notoriously expensive city, even without the Olympic promotions.
A Royal Picnic
On our first day in London, we walked to Buckingham Palace and grabbed some sandwiches, drinks and snacks from a food stand near the Palace for a grand total of about 10 pounds. We walked maybe 100 yards with our snacks and sat down on a curb right in front of the Palace for our picnic lunch. The view was worth a million bucks, but the food was quite affordable (and tasty!).
Sightseeing for Free
We then went on our own walking tour from Buckingham Palace to Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, past the Horse Guards Parade, past the National Portrait Gallery and up to Piccadilly Circus. That was hours of enjoyment and sightseeing that didn’t cost us a penny, or a pence in this case. While we didn’t have time to enjoy it on this trip, the National Portrait Gallery, British Museum and other similar “must-sees” offer complimentary admission.
Of course not all expenses at the Olympics could be avoided, but we made sure to put all of the expenses we could on one of our rewards-earning credit cards that did not charge a foreign transaction fee.
The Olympics may be almost over, but traveling with an eye toward finding deals — and ways to earn miles and points toward our next trip — is a travel methodology that will never end for my family!
Did the Olympics inspire a trip to the UK? Pre-plan your sightseeing with our Sights of London slideshow.