International students: How to budget in Britain

Student jumping in the air

If you're travelling on a budget, you're in luck: there are loads of ways to save money for international students looking to explore Britain, from travel tickets to theatre.


Did you know? The Queen’s favourite method of transport is the train.

The easiest way to travel around Britain is by train. It’s the oldest rail-network in the world and one of the busiest – you can get just about anywhere on it. There are often lots of different options for buying tickets and planning routes - use our tips to make your money go further.

Tips for getting the cheapest train tickets:

  • Get a 16-25 Railcard
  • Try to buy as far in advance as possible
  • Travel off-peak (the least popular time)
  • If you’re buying from the ticket clerk, ask for the cheapest option!

Top tip: BritRail – an absolute-must for international students. Available exclusively to overseas visitors, BritRail tickets are some of the most affordable and flexible in the UK.

How it works: There are numerous types of BritRail tickets available to suit varying needs. Essentially, a one-off payment entitles you to unlimited train travel across Britain within the specified time frame (consecutive and flexible tickets are available).


  • Fixed price – so you won’t get stung by escalating prices on popular journeys
  • Unlimited travel
  • Further discount available for 16-25 year olds
  • First class tickets available

Student discount card

NUS Extra is the ultimate money-saving card. You can use it just about anywhere: high street fashion retailers, bars and restaurants - even mobile phone contracts and Spotify accounts!

Top tip: Some stores don't advertise a student discount but it's always worth asking. You'll be surprised at how many give discounts on the quiet!


Package tours are a great way to explore Britain and meet new people. They are hassle-free as everything is booked for you, and are often much cheaper than organising a tour alone.

Students surfing

Backpack Britain on a budget: Haggis tours are specialist budget tour operators focusing on high thrill, low-price experiences.

Prices include accommodation, so you don't have to worry about sorting it out or paying any extra at a later date.

Sightseeing passes

If you’re in a city for a short amount of time, sightseeing passes are a great and affordable way to visit popular tourist attractions. For a one-off payment you can see as many attractions as you like and often receive additional perks such as priority access, special offers and exclusive tours.

Sightseeing passes are usually location based allowing you to make the most out of them in the allotted time period. London, Edinburgh and York are just some if the regions which offer a Pass, covering popular attractions like Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh Castle, London Zoo and the York Dungeon.

Example saving: London Sightseeing Pass

  Standard student price
 Tower of London £22
 Westminster Abbey £20
 London Bridge Experience & Tombs £24
 Kensington Palace £15.90
 Churchill War Rooms £16.35
 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre & Exhibition £13.50
 Total £111.75
 London Sightseeing Pass (1 day) £56

You save £55.75 – around 50% off the individual entrance prices if bought on the day.

Theatre Passport

A trip to London isn’t complete without a visit to the vibrant West End. However theatre tickets to some of the biggest London shows can be expensive. The Theatre Passport is a great way to see some of the best shows the West End has to offer for up to 60% less!

How it works: The Theatre Passport entitles you to the best seats available in a selection of participating West End shows.

Travel essentials

Maps and telephones are essential items for any traveller.

If you need to contact home it can be an expensive process, but there are a few cheaper options available.

Touchdown Ready SIM Pack – Find your way around the UK and stay in touch with your family with one handy pack

What you get:

  • O2 SIM card (compatible with most GSM mobile/cell phones)
  • 50 minutes of free international calls with each £10 you top up
  • A UK telephone number so friends and family at home can contact you
  • A guide listing 100 free places to visit in the UK including museums, galleries and markets
  • A map of central London detailing all the top sightseeing attractions
  • A map of Britain
  • A book of £100 worth of discount vouchers to use at top UK attractions

Mobile Wi-Fi Rental – Get wireless internet anywhere you go in Britain

With international roaming charges peaking at £11.50 per MB, accessing the internet could be an expensive process. With the TEP Mobile Wi-Fi device you can completely avoid international roaming charges, receive unlimited data downloads and connect to any device: smart phones, laptops and tablets. And it’s pocket-sized.

Simply rent the device for the desired amount of time and save money!