Last week I shared our itinerary for our latest Spring Break trip where we spent a week road tripping around Cornwall, England, but now the big question:
How much did it cost to do this trip?
I actually get this question quite a bit from friends and colleagues; it comes in various forms from outright “How much does a trip like that cost?” to the more (not so) subtle “I bet that cost a lot“. But I really don’t mind answering it. L and I spend quite a bit of time planning our trips and looking for ways to get the best value for our travel dollars (and £!) so I like to share those ideas with others to hopefully inspire them to see that they can do it too if they’d like to. Almost always I get replies of “oh, well that’s not as much as I thought it would be“, which definitely make me smile.
I was thinking that if people I know are curious to see how much our trips cost, perhaps you guys that are reading along are too if you’re looking for ideas for your next adventure. But maybe, unlike my colleagues, you are too shy to ask. ;-)
So today I thought I’d share what it cost us to spend the week driving around Cornwall, along with some of the ways we saved money (and even ways we didn’t!).
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.
$896 USD from Houston, TX (IAH) to London, GB (LHR)
I debated putting airfare in because it can depend on so many factors like where you’re flying from, when you want to fly, when you are purchasing your ticket, which class of ticket you purchase, etc. etc. Because of all these variables I haven’t included this in the final price but wanted to at least give you an idea of what it could cost you. I think the key to getting an affordable/reasonable air fare comes down to a few things- mainly flexibility (time or location wise) and being aware of general flight prices so you can purchase when you find one that looks good.
For this trip I wasn’t flexible at all for time or location. We knew we were taking a trip in the UK (within driving distance of London) and it had to be March 10- 19, 2017 to correspond with spring break here in Houston. So that ruled out all “I’m going to get a cheap fare because I’m just so flexible” options. Instead I started checking on prices with a budget of about $1000-1200 in mind based on other flights I’ve taken to London, but hoping since it was in March the flight would be closer to the $1000 end of the range. And I found one!
Six months out, on September 10, 2016, I was checking out airfares (on Google flights) and this one popped up for $896 non-stop with United Airlines. I honestly almost didn’t believe it was less than $1000 so I snapped it up and then our planning really began.
App to Try: Their tagline says it best – “Know when to fly and buy. Score the lowest fares“. Hopper is a great app to try if you’re looking for deals on flights – they’ll recommend whether you should wait to book or buy now. If they recommend waiting they’ll then watch your flight prices and send you a notification when you should buy.
£205.25 / $253 for fuel (for about 900 miles of driving)
To do a trip to Cornwall you really need to rent a car. In our case we were able to drive L’s car, which admittedly saved us quite a bit on a car rental but his car is not the most fuel efficient. For what we saved in car rental costs, we did use up a bit of that in fuel costs but it was certainly less expensive overall than when we rent cars. Also compared to fuel prices in the US, the UK has much higher prices so when planning a trip in this country it’s best to budget accordingly if you’re coming from a country with lower priced fuel.
Tool to Try: Fuel Price Calculator from BBC – See fuel prices in the UK compared with other countries
If you do rent a car, we recommend Avis. We’ve used them in several countries and they’ve always provided us with great service.
Car Rental Tips:
- To save money on the car rent a standard/manual transmission…if you know how to drive one. The roads in this part of the country can be quite narrow and winding (that picture above is not an uncommon type of road we drove on) and if you aren’t comfortable driving on the left and/or a manual this might not be the best place to try tackling both of those things at once.
- If you have the option to rent a car by booking online from different countries do check out the prices. For example L books from the UK and I book from the US and typically cars are cheaper for me to rent in Europe and much cheaper for him to rent in the US, for the same car! (Do ensure you compare apples to apples though and make sure all the insurance etc. is the same)
- And a more fuel efficient car than a 5.0 supercharged V8 would definitely help bring the cost of fuel down, but it might not be as much fun to drive. :-)
$676.66 USD for 8 nights total
When it comes to accommodations we look for a comfortable place with kitchen facilities at a reasonable price. Since discovering Airbnb a few years ago it is typically our first stop to start looking for every trip, and the options in Cornwall didn’t disappoint.
Here is how the price breaks down for each of the places we stayed:
St. Ives – $300 USD for 3 nights
What we got: A very comfortable one-bedroom garden flat with views of the bay and Godrevy light house. It was just a few minutes to get into town and parking was included. The kitchen was also well stocked (with utensils, pots, pans etc.) and we found everything we needed to make our meals. We would definitely recommend this apartment. You can check out more about it here. The only thing I would note is that it lists the bed in the bedroom as a king, but if you are coming from the US/Canada you will consider this bed a queen size.
Tregamere area – $351 USD for 4 nights
What we got: A two-bedroom/two bath apartment in a rural stone barn that was AMAZING. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this place and am still telling everyone I know about how much I loved it. I would have moved in if they’d have let me! :-) Every detail was thought about when they renovated this barn, right down to USB ports in some of the electrical sockets for charging devices. It was so peaceful and cosy, with a fireplace to snuggle up to in the chilly evenings, and a wonderful comfortable bed. Check it out here, and you’ll see only perfect reviews so far.
- Always read the information and reviews for places you are considering. We found in Cornwall there were a lot of places that charged extra for towels for some reason. We haven’t encountered that in other countries so could easily assume that all places come with towels. Had we not read the information we would have spent even more in each place, or L would have had to bring towels from home.
- If you have the option to book from another country (like L books from the UK and I book from the US) check the price you can get from booking from each country. It is always cheaper for me to pay for Airbnb because there isn’t VAT charged for bookings from the US. Even though it is only a few dollars here and there, that can add up over time!
Urban Villa Hotel in West London (near Heathrow airport) – $25.66 USD for 1 night
First of all…what? $25.66? Yep, we cashed in a night from our Hotels.com account and the difference in price was only $25.66 more. Sweet!
What we got: A very hip and modern one-bedroom apartment with kitchen facilities and an awesome glassed in balcony that wrapped around the whole apartment (there were doors to the balcony from the bedroom, living area, and kitchen!). We booked the Executive Villa room and were situated on the 10th floor with a great view. We chose this hotel to be close to the airport for my early morning flight from Heathrow and I wish we would have stayed longer to enjoy the balcony more. I’d definitely put this hotel at the top of my list if we stay in the city again for a flight.
When we aren’t booking an Airbnb, we’re booking on Hotels.com to earn a free night for every ten we book. So far we’ve redeemed two nights, and we are each 70% of the way towards our next free night! To sign up and start saving nights towards your own free night, check out Hotels.com or the Urban Villa.
£83.46 / $103.40 USD total
We purposely choose Airbnb apartments with kitchen facilities so we save as much as possible in the food category and I think we do pretty well. We only ate out a few meals on this trip and the rest of the time prepared our own meals. So what can you get for groceries in the UK for abot $100?
Breakfast: Cereal, bagels, cream cheese, juice, milk (and sometimes leftovers from dinner for me because they are so good!)
Lunch: Deli meats, cheese, hard boiled eggs, crackers, Pringles, savoury eggs, little sausages, and chicken “straws“, water for every day out ….basically easy to eat, picnic type foods that we can eat on the go.
Dinner: Cottage pie, roast chicken and pancetta bake, this chicken and rice dish I make, chicken Kiev and mashed potatoes, a Tikka and Korma meal (I really loved this one)… things like this that are quick and easy to cook so we can relax in the evening after busy days out.
Goodie to Try: This picnic backpack is what we’ve used for the past couple of years to take our lunches out each day, and to keep food cold during the day when we move to a new Airbnb apartment. We have several ice packs that we refreeze each night and then just pop in the bag in the morning and we’re ready to go.
£79.05 / $97.88 USD total *
We actually ate out a little more this trip than usual so we could have easily saved some money in the food category if we had wanted to. There were a couple of things that I really wanted to get on this trip though – like if you’re in Cornwall you have to have a Cornish Pasty! I also love ‘pub grub’ so we ate at the Cricketers near Kew Gardens so I could enjoy some sausage and mash. And before my flight out we popped in to the Flying Chariot at terminal 2 in Heathrow for a delicious full English breakfast.
* To note: This doesn’t include one special meal we ate out at the Lifeboat Inn in St. Ives that was £50 ($62) because this was a treat that was gifted to us. If we hadn’t received this we would have most likely eaten something at our Airbnb apartment.
Sightseeing and Miscellaneous
£333 / $ 415 USD total
We aren’t really ‘foodies’ so where we save on groceries, we spend on the activities, experiences, and sights we see – but we look for ways to save money where possible too. Typically our itineraries are a nice mix of free sights, tickets we’ve purchased in advance (to save money or ensure we get a ticket or particular time slot), and then tickets we pick up as we go.
The tickets we purchased in advance online for this trip that saved us money were:
- Cornish Seal Sanctuary (save up to 30%)
- Flambards (save 10% )
- Morwellham Quay (save 10%)
- Kew Gardens (save £1.50 per ticket)
- Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan combined ticket offer (up to 10% off)
This list is just the things we purchased in advance; to see all the activities we did please check out our trip summary that lists all of our activities for the week (except the afternoon we spent in London at Kew Gardens which is factored in to these costs).
Money Saving Tip: There are two great membership passes that are worth checking out if you are planning a trip to Cornwall as they may save you even more money, depending on the sites you visit. One is a National Trust membership that gives you access to more than 500 places (and would have covered the parking at some of the sites we visited on this trip) and the other is the English Heritage pass that gives access to over 400 historic places.
And the total cost for a one week road trip around Cornwall (with an afternoon and night in London thrown in!) is...
£ 623/ $773 USD per person (not including the airfare)
Was this more or less than you were expecting for England?
Do you have other tips for doing a road trip in the UK on a budget? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!
Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission but this does not affect the price to you. Please read my full disclosure policy here.