This post is aimed at Kiwis, Aussies, and others who are based in the UK. It’s not tips about UK travel but rather tips for travel originating in the UK.
Make a calendar of the bank holidays and ask in advance for a day off either side.
Bank holidays are public holidays like Christmas and Easter, plus specific days that are designated as days off e.g., you will hear people in the UK refer to “The August Bank Holiday” meaning the weekend in August in which the Monday is a holiday.
If you plan your minibreaks around Bank Holiday weekends you will get extra vacation time.
Go to the airport direct from work rather than go home then head to the airport.
Usually it’s quicker to take your packed carryon bag to work and head directly to the airport after work rather than go home first. Sometimes taking a half day is possible and can work out well if you’re trying to take advantage of cheaper flights.
Get yourself a carryon bag that will be allowed on the UK budget airlines.
Calculate the cost of getting to/from the various London airports.
Before you decide to save 20 GBP by flying from an airport that’s not Heathrow, calculate the cost of getting to/from the airport. Also consider which airport is quickest to get to from work / your flat.
Get multi-trip insurance.
Multi-trip insurance is very, very cheap in the UK. Sometimes it’s even included as a perk when you open a bank account. Check into this.
Multi-trip insurance will cover you for short trips (usually up to 30 or 60 days).
There are websites that will allow you to compare policies. Take care to read the wording. In particular, whether you’re required to be a “permanent resident” of the UK or just “resident.” Most say permanent resident, which I interpret to mean not people on working holiday visas. There are some options that just say “resident” though.
It’s amazing to be able to take short trips on a whim without having to factor in the cost of buying insurance, or deal with the worry of not having insurance for short trips.
Consider an open jaw ticket to avoid high UK tax.
If you’re not time crunched, consider an open jaw ticket in which you depart from somewhere that isn’t the UK and return to the UK. For example, book a cheap ticket to Italy, spend 2 days in Milan and continue on to New York. When you fly home, fly NYC-London. This will save you around $100 in UK departure fees, enough for the UK – Italy flight.
This means from a flight cost perspective your two days in Italy will be free.
The tax is levied on departures from the UK. You’ll still pay the tax for the UK to Italy flight but it’s common for that fare to $10 for the fare, plus another $100 ish in departure tax. If Milan flights happen to be cheaper than London flights, which they often are, you’ll save even more.
See here for advanced flight search tips.
Don’t just consider Europe.
There are some great bargains from the UK to places other than Europe. For example,
UK – Israel RT 250 GBP
UK – Iran RT 310 GBP
UK – Kenya RT 460 GBP
The world is your oyster when you are flying ex-UK.
Familiarize yourself with sites that offer package deals.
Compared to NZ and Australia, there are vastly more options for you to consider when booking travel from the UK. Sometimes you can get package deals that include accommodation for little more than the cost of the flights.
Look at doing apartment swaps, especially if you live in London.
You can make your vacation accommodation free if you do an apartment swap with someone who wants to visit the UK. London for New York for example, should be an easy swap to arrange. Bethaney from Flashpacker Family did a London to Paris apartment swap. She also did London for NYC.