London has been really great to me so far, not so much on my wallet, but I feel pretty comfortable in my surroundings and knowing what’s good around here. I decided to come up with this handy dandy guide called: London for Twenty Somethings! Like me, you probably weren’t made out of money, so here’s this nice little guide that keeps your budget in mind as well as your lifestyle.
Nightlife: Depending on what your ideal night includes, there’s something for everyone. Leicester Square and the Soho area are full of nightclubs. All I can say is, if you go, be prepared to be the target of skilled thieves. A friend of mine was asked to dance, accepted, and after he walked away she realized her clutch was missing from beneath her arm. The pickpockets in London are top-notch, one minute you have something and the next minute you don’t. If you go out, make sure not to bring anything of value, or at least check it in or wear it on your person with one of those hidden travel pouches. It’s also a good rule of thumb to wear a purse with a zipper, instead of something open or a backpack.
There are a lot of music venues scattered allover the city. Depending on what kind of music you like you can find a place that is suitable to your needs, some of the larger venues like Royal Albert Hall are in the more touristy quintessentially London areas, while smaller punk or indie places would probably be located in Camden or East London.
Pubs: If you’re in London you’ve seen basically the same pub with a different name on a different street about a thousand times now, be nice to your bartender, because while it is technically illegal for them to up charge to Americans and tourists, they still might rip you off. Don’t overdo it by tipping well, I gave my bartender a three pound tip and he looked at me like I was crazy. No one really tips here, anywhere you go, or if they do it’s very small. People make a livable wage here so they’re not so desperate for your monetary approval. This can unfortunately result in sub-par service, if not downright awful service, but at least you’re saving some coin.
Food: I recommend eating something like a Clif bar in the morning with some juice, take your vitamins, and drink water. Local coffee, I’ve found, hasn’t been terribly expensive, I shelled out about three pounds for a latte everyday at this Italian cafe near my place, which isn’t too bad. Keep yourself nourished and healthy, or else you’ll get sick and grumpy–then no one likes you.
Sightseeing: As I’ve mentioned before, most of the museums are free here, and there are other events which London hosts that are as well, just pick up a local paper or Time Out and see what’s on for whatever day you’re trying to do something. The power of the internet will always be helpful.
Travel: There are a lot of ways to get around England and Europe, the Eurostar has some deals for students, which can save you a bit of money. It’d only be a few hours to Paris, Rome, or wherever you want to go. Flights in Europe are also subsidized so they are DIRT CHEAP. When I mean dirt cheap I mean that, right now, it would cost me thirty pounds to travel from London to Oslo, Norway. That’s like about 50 American dollars! That’s like a tank of gas almost, sort of, not quite–but still! Check out the budget airliners, it can save you mad money.