A Wee Little Guide to London, England

According to the State Department, only 36 percent of Americans own a valid passport. Now, to me, that number seems awfully low. With the summer coming and people booking trips left and right, I say get your passport and head across the pond.

Getting There

When I recently purchased plane tickets to London, I used Funjet. The best thing about Funjet is its a book-now, pay-later option on fights. Instead of shelling out that cash up front, you can make payments monthly.

Where To Stay

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The Dictionary Hostel
Located in a very cool and hip area of London, The Dictionary Hostel is one of my favorite places to stay. Positioned right next door to Translate Bar (where you’ll receive discounted drinks!) and right down the street from one of the top brunch spots in LDN, this is one place you’ll want to rest your head at night.

Ibis Euston St. Pancras
Only a 20-minute walk from Baker Street and Oxford Circus, this is a unique and fairly inexpensive hotel to stay. With a friendly staff, delicious food and free candy at reception (!), Ibis Euston is a gem in the heart of London.

Where To Eat

The Breakfast Club
There is always an hour-long queue outside the bright yellow building, but the wait is worth it—trust me. Try the pancakes and berries with a bloody mary that’s hot and spicy like Helen Mirren (or so the menu says).

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Nordic Bakery
If you’re a fan of cinnamon rolls (and how could you not?), head here immediately. This cute bakery is located right off Marylebone High Street in North West London and is a must-have.

Pizza East
Sunday Roast is a must when in England and one of the best, and possibly surprising, places to get a roast is Pizza East in Shoreditch.

 

Homeslice
Whether you’re wanting just a slice or a full pizza, head to Homeslice. With both traditional and unique flavors on the menu, this pizza spot will satisfy your every craving.

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Molly Bakes
Freakshakes are taking over the London world with good reason—just look at it. If you’re a lover of all things sweet and don’t mind heading to the dentist early this year, head to Molly Bakes immediately.

Sketch
Afternoon tea is a must in London and Sketch is a unique location to have your tea. The gorgeous interior is made for Instagram, and the tea set will make you contemplate sticking the dishware in your bag. Oh, and check out the bathrooms.

Duck and Waffle
Although this place can be pricey, the view is worth every penny—as are the cocktails!

What To Do

While London is very expensive, the nice thing is that the major museums are free.

Saatchi Gallery
This art gallery is so weird and so cool. The contemporary gallery hosts well-known and unknown artists and many of its pieces have been at the height of controversy since opening in 1985.

Columbia Flower Market
Open on Sunday mornings until 2pm, get your fill of flowers at the Columbia Flower Market. Grab a bouquet or just walk along for the scents; it’s a fun and enjoyable way to see real Londoners out and about.

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God’s Own Junkyard
Neon art and signs line the walls of God’s Own Junkyard—the oldest sign makers in London. Whether you’re looking for the perfect place to take Instagram photos or wander around drinking coffee and looking at unique signs, GOJ is somewhere to get lost on a weekday afternoon.

Tate Modern
The building has some of the best views of Southbank and St. Paul’s Cathedral and the artwork inside is bloody ridiculous. Everywhere you turn, there are pieces by Picasso, Warhol, Dali, Rothko, Richter, Duchamp, Hockney and the always weird and wonderful Tracey Emin.

Borough Market
While most tourists know about Borough Market, they tend to head there on the weekend. I recommend taking a trip during the week for delicious street food and people-watching.

Shoreditch Art Walk
Shoreditch is home to some of the best street art in London. Wander around yourself or sign up for a free walking tour to learn more about the history behind the art.

Post originally appeared on ALIVEmag.com. More information added here.

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Doing New York (on a major budget)

If you’re like me, you probably don’t have tons of money to go travel, but still want to see as much of the world as possible. Now, I don’t have all the answers when it comes to traveling, so this is just what I did and how I saved money on going to a very expensive city.

Getting there:

When buying plane tickets, I tend to go into “incognito” mode and check Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Kayak. The reason for going incognito is that the websites use cookies to track what flights you are looking at, so when you go back to check prices at another time, they tend to bump up prices based on your past searches. When you go incognito, they tend to not be able to track your activity.

I bought my tickets to New York at the start of the year when ticket prices tend to drop (about a week after New Years), and I bought a roundtrip ticket to New York for $200.

Where to Stay:

If you have friends in New York, I highly recommend staying with them, obviously. If you don’t, a great option is Airbnb or Couchsurfing. You meet great people who tend to know the city well and can give you great ideas of where to go, eat, and walk. The best advice I can give for both is to research, research, research. Make sure they have photos, lots of recommendations, and email them to make sure you don’t get a bad vibe from them! Trust your gut and be safe. Remember, if you do agree to do Airbnb or Couchsurf, meet in a public place. You always have the option to say no.

However, if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of staying with a stranger, here is a list of fairly cheap places to rest your head for the night. . .or day:

Hostels

The Bowery House // Average nightly stay is around $55 with free wifi (which is definitely the most important thing to have in your hostel). A bar is located downstairs and a nice rooftop terrace that has incredible views of the city.

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The Local NYC // Average nightly stay is around $45 with free wifi, book exchange, laundry room, and board games. This hostel is very “Brooklyn” with great wood tables, exposed brick, and plaid everywhere.

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Hotels

City Rooms // Average nightly stay is around $120 (much higher than the hostels, but you get your own room!) Centrally located with unique doodles painted on the walls of each room, City Hotels is a nice place to stay if you’re on a budget.

The Jane Hotel // Average nightly stay is around $90. If Wes Anderson’s film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was real, The Jane would be it. The interior is what I picture hotels used to look like before they became “hip” and modernized. The hotel is located right next to the Hudson and close to subway stops to get you anywhere you need in New York.

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MetroCard

If you’re going to be staying for close to a week, I recommend getting the 7 day MetroCard for $30. The card has unlimited rides for those 7 days on any subway and bus in New York.

Places to Eat

Chelsea Market // Not only does Chelsea Market have great clothing and book stores, but they have an array of foods for you to try (and a lot of the places have samples that you can scour!). I recommend Fat Witch Bakery for their brownies.

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Shake Shack // Oh, how I love me some Shake Shack. You can get a nice double burger and fries for around $10. However, shell out that extra $5 for a shake. You need one.

Murray’s Cheese Bar // My body hated me after eating the largest grilled cheese sandwich at Murray’s, but it’s worth it. I recommend the Murray Melt with a side of tomato soup for $12.

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Convenient Stores

When I was staying with a friend in Red Hook, we were starving and ran down to her local convenient store at the corner of her street. With boxes of cereal and kale chips in hand, we ordered an Everything Bagel with ham, cheese, turkey, lettuce, tomato, onions, and mustard toasted. It was $3! Look out for those kind of deals. They’re usually the best ones.

Free Things

A lot of people don’t talk about the free things that you can do while you’re in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

The High Line // The High Line used to be an old subway track that New York revamped with gardens, flowers, and restaurants. The views along the Line are incredible and worth climbing the steep steps to the top!

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Central Park// This is an obvious one. You can be like me and pretend you’re in “Friends” and do the handclap by the water fountains.

Brooklyn Brewery // Free tours on Saturday and Sunday at Brooklyn Brewery. It’s in such a hip part of Brooklyn that you’ll never want to leave.

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Bronx Zoo // On Wednesdays, entry is “pay what you want” and if you like zoos, it’s supposed to be a good one.

Museum of Modern Art // On Fridays, from 4-8pm, entrance to the museum is free. I highly recommend going early as it is bound to get packed!

Walking Tours // There are also a lot of free walking tours you can take to see the city. I love taking walking tours as they usually have interesting information on the city and I’ve always had a blast meeting people on the tours!

I hope this has been somewhat, if at all, helpful if you’re looking to travel to New York, but don’t have tons of money! I went for four days, and including airfare, food, and transport, spent $600.