Archive for April, 2008

Getting to and from Stansted Airport Cheaply

If you want to save money on airport transportation, moral of the story is: BOOK EARLY and ONLINE.

Absolute cheapest when booked in advance is easyBus, where you can snag fares as low as £4 each way (plus 25p booking fee). Since planning for my own trip, they have changed both their price structure and their drop-off points; fares are higher across the board, but they have capped them at £13, offering the choice of Baker Street or Victoria Station in central London. Leaves every 20-30 minutes.

  • EasyBus uses minibuses and relies on advance bookings; therefore, there is no guarantee that space will be available for walk-up purchase. Walk-up fares are currently £8 one-way.

Next cheapest option is Terravision, offering a flat £13 return when booked online to Victoria Station or Liverpool Street. Leaves every 30-60 minutes.

  • The same return fare purchased at their airport counter will cost £14. One-way fares for £8, no matter where booked.

National Express will transport you for £17 return, stopping at Baker Street, Marble Arch and Victoria Station. Departures every 20 minutes. Search the web for current discount codes to save yourself an additional 5-10%.

  • National Express is the only carrier offering 24-hour service. Fares (excluding discount codes) are the same whether purchased online or on-the-spot.

You’ll save £2 online when booking your Stansted Express tickets to Tottenham Hale (£22 return) or Liverpool Street (£24 return). If you’re flying RyanAir, save even more by purchasing return tickets from your flight attendants for £20 return. Departures four times per hour.

Seeing the Tates

Not only do the Tate Britain and Tate Modern offer free admission, they also offer free guided tours up to five times daily.

The Tate Britain shows you around at 12 and 15 everyday, with additional tours weekdays at 11 and 14. There is an additional guided interpretation of the “painting of the month” Tuesdays at 1315 and Saturdays at 1430.

The Tate Modern offers tours at 11 and 12 (meeting on level 3) and 14 and 15 (meeting on level 5) every day of the week.

Even more fun is the first Friday of every month, where the Tate Britain stays open till 22; from 18-22 runs its “Late at Tate” program, with drinks, performances, music, talks, films, and half-price exhibition entry on offer. Check out the website for more details.

Wellcome Collection

The photo exhibition “Life Before Death” (which you may have seen featured on Kottke or Dooce) is showing until the 18 May at the Wellcome Collection, near Euston Station. Admission to all exhibitions is free. The galleries are open from 10-18, Thursdays till 22. Closed Mondays.

Need an UK Plug Adapter?

Boots offers a wide variety of US-UK, Euro-UK and reverse plug adapters for only £2-3 in their electrical or travel section. If you’re flying through Stansted, Boots is handily located in the insecure area at the end of check-in aisle B or in the secured area in the far left corner of the main terminal building. If necessary, you can also purchase replacement toiletries for anything confiscated by security.

Arriving to/Departing from London after Midnight and before 0530

Well, Cinder(f)ella, the Tube turns into a pumpkin overnight and you’ll have to become familiar with the city’s network of night buses. Use the official Journey Planner to figure out the closest or fastest route between two points.

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Tuesday Reminders

Have you gone to get your free Ben and Jerry’s yet? Get thee to the closest scoop shop and enjoy!

There is one month left to submit your conversion fee refund claim. If you’ve spent or withdrawn more than $2500 in foreign transactions since 1996, you will receive a larger refund by itemizing; any amount under that is eligible for a straight-up $25 refund. Seriously — free money! Find all the details here.

Finally, the end is drawing nigh for IcelandAir passengers from MSP to book their amazing $10 add-ons. These are remarkable discounts on popular tours and services, from a spa visit to whale watching to the Reykjavik Card. The offer is good through April 30 on all flights from MSP throughout May.

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Another five days in London, including flights to/from Berlin, once again cost me under £100. How did I do it? I lay my budget bare and reveal the winner of the Reader Tips contest for London after the jump.


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I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Readers in the northern hemisphere have already had their first taste of Ice Cream Conespring (between spells of bad weather), while those in the south are watching autumn slowly wind towards winter. Here is your chance to enjoy your first/last ice cream outing of the season on the house: April 29th is Ben and Jerry’s annual Free Cone Day! U.S. and Canadian residents, find your nearest scoop shop here; international readers feeling neglected by my recent freebies will find 150 international locations where they can gorge themselves here.

Americans without a Ben and Jerry’s nearby may have better luck with Baskin Robbins; their 31-cent scoop night takes place April 30th. Details here.

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A short warning from the road for anyone who may be considering booking cheap flights to Cornwall: the Newquay airport charges an extra £5 tax on departures which is 1) neither included in your ticket price 2) nor avoidable, as you must present your paid receipt in order to go through security. The fee must be paid at one of two ticket machines in the tiny check-in area.

I find this a dishonest tactic, though it sadly appears it may become a trend across the UK and Ireland. According to the article, Norwich airport has introduced a £3 fee for adults and £1 for children under 15 (at Newquay, all passengers under 16 are not charged a fee). The informational flyer on this “development fee” from Newquay suggests that Knock and Kerry airports in Ireland are also considering adding such fees. In fact, the Knock airport website states that passengers will now pay an additional €10 fee! Have you run into these surprise taxes anywhere else? Leave a comment below!

Airlines flying into Newquay have reduced flights and criticized the airport in response to the tax, which was introduced in 2005. They argue it is unfair to passengers and goes against the principles of all-inclusive pricing in air tickets — and I am inclined to agree. How can a customer fairly compare options when such taxes fly under the radar? And while £5 won’t break the bank, it certainly seems large, given the €1.51 fare I paid — effectively quintupling the price of my ticket! I encourage anyone disagreeing with such policies of an airport to be certain to file a complaint, either by letter or comment card.


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Clockman imageThis little guy (delivered sans surfboard) is likely to fit and be found easily inside your travel bag. Request your free clockman directly from McCartney’s.

Similar clocks online have a built-in alarm; should yours come without, use it when traveling set to home time or leave it at home set to your new time to ease phone calling or other communication.

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Don’t let airline security regulations keep you from looking and feeling your best on the road. Try out these goodies, all guaranteed to fit in your 1L ziploc bag:

Skin Care

Hair Care

Body Care

Dental Care

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