Travel Cost Breakdown From Our Time in the UK and Ireland

People say to us all the time “Wow, how can you afford to travel for six months?” Travel can be expensive and, as long-term travelers, we are always very aware of our costs. Since we finished traveling in the United Kingdom and Ireland some time ago we are going to share actual numbers from our trip so you can get an idea about long-term travel costs in these generally expensive areas.

Our travel budget has one simple strategy. Write it down! If you write down every single purchase and expense while traveling – and know your spending limits – you will always know where you stand.

Molly examining trip expenses in our travel notebook

Molly calculating trip expenses in our travel notebook

Writing it down will keep you from forgetting that $2.00 coffee or falling into the ‘How much was lunch last Thursday?‘ trap. Keeping track will also allow you to do one of my favorite things: Data analysis! I broke down all of our expenses for the 32 days we spent in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland into five cost categories. These categories are lodging, food, entertainment, transportation, and miscellaneous. We use the Currency app by Jeffrey Grossman on our iPhone to convert all of our costs to USD.

Lets lay out the big number first. Our average total cost of travelling in the UK and Ireland turned out to be $131.43 per day (or, just under $66 per person per day). We have each made our $66 dollars go pretty far. In most cases we have had our own private room, eat out for lunch, pay for museums/entertainment and travel to a new location about every 4-5 days. The one expense not factored into the UK/Ireland numbers above are our flights from New York to London via Iceland. We budgeted intercontinental flights separately and will talk about these costs at the end of our trip. Travel costs for this post reflect all local travel throughout Ireland and the UK including one flight, two train trips and numerous bus trips. Every item adds up and the chart below shows how our daily costs were divided, percentage-wise, among our categories:

For our ‘once in a lifetime’ around-the-world trip we are not looking to set any records for traveling inexpensively. If you enjoy couch surfing and eating ramen noodles i’m sure you could spend less. We happen to be spending a significant amount of our budget on awesome vegan food. (Vegans – go to London, you won’t be disappointed!) We are personally traveling to see all of the great sights and experience all of the wonderful (vegan) cuisine. The occasional $15.00 entree does not have to break your entire budget if you leave room elsewhere.

It should be noted that Molly and I aren’t big drinkers. We did seek out local brews/wines/ciders wherever we were, but we purchased them from grocery stores. I think we only went out to a bar once (to watch the Chelsea vs. Manchester United soccer game while we were in London), but they happened to be pouring the cheapest cider and beer I’ve ever seen. In other words, if you plan to go out drinking all over Europe, you should adjust your budget accordingly.

Our ‘miscellaneous’ category is almost non-existent. As long-term travelers, we do not have much extra real estate in our backpacks or our budget. This means that we almost always say no to souvenirs. We have a week of clothing which we wash and only replace when needed. Our few miscellaneous purchases have been things like a beard trimmer, stamps and postcards, batteries, etc. And we are not carrying any solar-powered waving Queen Elizabeth figurines home with us in our bags.

As a result we have made our money go far. We spend almost two entire weeks in London which is one of the most expensive cities you can travel to. Dublin can be costly as well. There are places in the UK and Ireland which are more budget-friendly that we also traveled to such as Liverpool, Glasgow, and Derry. If you are willing to venture away from Dublin and London to some smaller cities you can find some great deals.  AirBnB has been one of our favorite resources to find an affordable place to stay. In most places we found that $50.00-$60.00 per day is a reasonable target for a private room.

Eating, sleeping and traveling will encompass the vast majority of your expenses. This is especially true for vegans who want to experience all of the great food in London (parts #1, #2, and #3), and Dublin, and Glasgow! Entertainment costs may actually be lower in the UK and Ireland when compared to other countries. Most major museums in the UK are free and there are a ton of affordable options. Check out our post on affordable activities in London, or our post on affordable options in Dublin, or our post on an affordable and different day in Glasgow.

I can recap the entirety of this post for you in three sentences (for those who aren’t interested in the numbers): Don’t let the strength of the Pound and Euro against the dollar scare you off from traveling to the United Kingdom and Ireland. There is plenty to do and see and eat for a budget traveler. Just be aware of the numbers and you’ll be fine!

Now get to traveling!

Tasty vegan eats in Glasgow, Scotland

In terms of vegan-friendly-ness, Glasgow is at the top. The city has 5 totally vegan restaurants. In fact, according to HappyCow.net, it has 5 vegan restaurants and only 3 vegetarian restaurants! I think one of the reasons why I am so impressed with Glasgow’s vegan food situation is because I wasn’t expecting it to be so awesome. The best part: All the food was really tasty! We ate at 4 of the 5 vegan places and visited the 5th (we had just eaten or we would have tried #5 out too!), and across the board the food was great.

We also noticed that the vibe was very similar from restaurant to restaurant. They all were very comfortable and large, with free wifi, and appeared to have similar handwriting across the chalkboards. From speaking to a waiter at Mono (the final place we tried), it seems that they were all founded by the same guy, but each restaurant’s chef creates his or her own menu.

So I thought I would give you the roundup on Glasgow’s vegan awesomeness, to encourage everyone to flock to Glasgow and get eating!

Saramago:

Saramago is located right next to/part of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow just off of a main walking street. It’s an excellent place to take a break from walking/art-seeing, has free wifi, and tasty food. Also, make sure you at least go into the CCA so you can see the beautiful building. Saramago’s bathrooms are actually in the CCA, so you may see it a bit even if you don’t want to.

Saramago and a pensive Molly

Saramago and a pensive Molly

Saramago interior

Saramago interior

Saramago artichoke hearts

Saramago artichoke hearts

Saramago tempura

Saramago tempura

Saramago grilled aubergine

Saramago grilled aubergine

Saramago dolmades

Saramago dolmades

Saramago root veggie chips

Saramago root veggie chips

Saramago brownie sundae dessert

Saramago brownie sundae dessert

Saramago coconut lime raspberry cake

Saramago coconut lime raspberry cake

As you can see, we ordered lots of food. Which lead to it being a bit expensive… But very tasty!

Stereo:

We actually went to Stereo twice, but only took pictures once. Our biggest comment about Stereo is that it is H-O-T in there! Open some windows, guys! Also, if the pictures below look familiar it is because we posted about Stereo in our “South Side of Glasgow” post!

Stereo

Stereo

Stereo interior

Stereo interior

Vegan haggis pizza, salad and house coleslaw

Vegan haggis pizza, salad and house coleslaw

TLT with salad and chips

TLT with salad and chips

The 78:

The 78 had our favorite desserts in Glasgow. And the good was stellar, too. But seriously, look at those desserts! Those of you who know me will be shocked to learn that I ordered that chocolate torte. But I ate every single bite of it! The only thing I would have changed was to add more raspberries. But everything is better with more raspberries, right? The chocolate was amazing, the ginger crust was the perfect compliment. A fantastic dessert. And, oh yeah, Dan loved his brownie sundae as well! Also, we forgot to take an exterior shot. Don’t be mad!

The 78 onion rings and hummus plate

The 78 onion rings and hummus plate

The 78 burger

The 78 burger

The 78 quesadilla

The 78 quesadilla

The 78 chocolate raspberry ginger torte

The 78 chocolate raspberry ginger torte

The 78 brownie sundae

The 78 brownie sundae

Mono:

Mono was the final vegan place we made it to while we were in Glasgow, and I think it may have been my favorite. It probably didn’t hurt that we were there right at opening time so we had the (giant) place more or less to ourselves. It was the perfect place to decompress for a few hours before catching our bus to Liverpool. Great wifi, fantastic food, and an awesome venue that also has music and a cool zine shop and record shop in it. We highly recommend it! I mean, just look at the food…

 

Mono

Mono

Fancy lemonade at Mono

Mono smoked tofu pesto mayo sandwich

Mono smoked tofu pesto mayo sandwich

Mono awesome pepperoni pizza

Mono awesome pepperoni pizza

And there was also vegan sticky toffee pudding for dessert, but the picture seems to have disappeared! So you can visualize it in your head. A slab of awesome, gooey cake with a scoop of ice cream on top, drizzled with caramel sauce! Yup. Aren’t you sad I can’t find the picture??

There is one more vegan restaurant in Glasgow, a bar called The Flying Duck, that we simply didn’t have time to visit. But they have vegan bar food, so definitely look it up if you have a craving while in Glasgow.

So those were our awesome eats in Glasgow. I highly recommend Glasgow – and Scotland in general – as a place to visit as a vegan. You will have tons of vegan options throughout Scotland (I promise!), and Scotland is so beautiful it will make your soul hurt.

A fun, alternative day in Glasgow, Scotland

Jumping forward about a week from Dan’s post about vegan food in Dublin, we finally arrived in Scotland. Glasgow is so beautiful it hurts. It’s what I imagine New York City looked like at the turn of the 20th Century. Our lovely hosts explained it to us this way; the old Medieval city was knocked down and a Victorian (mostly) gridded city was built in its place. So it is a nicely preserved Victorian city. In other words, it is freakin’ beautiful.

Beautiful victorian building in Glasgow

Beautiful Victorian building in Glasgow

But as long-term budget travelers, we can’t just see the main sites everyday. That would mean lots of money (though all of Glasgow’s major museums are free, a big plus) and lots of museums. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good museum, but my brain can only handle so much each day before it shuts off, so everyday cannot be filled with museums. What to do instead?

How about a day that few tourists replicate. It starts with one of the few places on the south side of Glasgow that tourists ever get to – the Burrell Collection. The Burrell Collection is located in a park called Pollok Park on the south side of Glasgow. Few tourists travel to the south side of Glasgow. Not for any scary reasons, just because there is enough to do in city center, which is on the north side of the River Clyde. We went to the Burrell Collection, where we desperately used the bathroom hand driers to dry out our socks and shoes which had been drenched in a rain shower earlier that morning. We also spent a while in the beautiful cafe warming up with tea, coffee, and vegan split pea soup!

 

Burrell Collection cafe

Burrell Collection cafe

After we had been adequately warmed up and seen all of the things Burrell collected (which was a lot of things!) we left the Burrell Collection and walked to the Pollok House (which is apparently Scotland’s answer to Downton Abbey. I think it looked too small to be comparable, but what do I know?). The park is obviously also named after the same Pollok. His house, however, is not free. But you can walk in and go downstairs and see the servants’ quarters. Those are free. I guess that makes sense… But it gave us a little peek at the house without having to pay to go into the upstairs rooms. Then after that we walked the grounds around the house and started our walk east through Pollok park, and then eventually, once we were out of the park, north towards city center. On our way east through the park, we saw this guy:

Highland cattle in all his/her adorable fuzziness. I wanted to pet this guy's nose, but Dan didn't think it would be a good idea...

Highland cattle in all his/her adorable fuzziness. I wanted to pet this guy’s nose, but Dan didn’t think it would be a good idea…

Highland cattle are kept in Pollok park. I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that they are native to the Highlands in Scotland (and Wikipedia confirms this theory). I think it is likely that they are in Pollok park for the human visitors’ amusement similar to how buffalo are kept in Golden Gate Park. But the Highland cattle seemed to be happily munching away, so hopefully no harm, no foul.

If you are planning on doing this walk yourself someday, exit the park onto Pollokshaws Road and take it north straight back into city center. Along the way you will pass beautiful neighborhoods:

Nice neighborhood on the south side of Glasgow

Nice neighborhood on the south side of Glasgow

Some sort of country club with people play whatever this sport is (bocce?):

Bocce (?) on the south side

Bocce (?) on the south side

You will pass Queens Park, which has a farmers market on Saturdays. It was across the street from the park that I found a hair cut place willing to give me a hair cut for a price I could actually afford!

Pre-hair cut:

Bye bye hair!

Bye bye hair!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good after shot… Needless to say, it is now shoulder-length, not gross and fried at the ends, and much easier to manage! I’d say that it was the perfect 10 pound ($15) haircut!

After 15 minutes of walking past Queens Park the area gets a bit more industrial. But that’s in the home stretch! Plus you get to see insane things like this:

Bob the Builder tombstone??

Bob the Builder tombstone??

After this many hours of sun, Scotland was beginning to get confused by the weather so it drizzled a bit as we crossed the Clyde, hence the crazy dark picture below:

Crossing the Clyde

Crossing the Clyde

But without a drizzle, we couldn’t have had this!

Rainbow!

Rainbow!

We ended our walk with a much deserved dinner at one of Glasgow’s 5 (!!!) vegan restaurants, Stereo. The food was delicious and the venue was super-warm (too warm? Is that possible?). And as a bonus, free wifi! All of Glasgow’s vegan restaurants feature free wifi and lots of tables. I hear, after speaking to a waitress at one of the restaurants that they were all at least founded by the same guy which you can sort of tell as all of the vegan restaurants feature similar interior style. But each chef gets to do as he or she wants, so the food is different. At Stereo we got the dishes below to refuel after our long day out.

Vegan haggis pizza, salad and house coleslaw

Vegan haggis pizza, salad and house coleslaw

TLT with salad and chips

TLT with salad and chips

Assuming the weather is on your side, this was a fabulous day in Glasgow. I highly recommend going to the south side and seeing what few tourists get to see. You won’t be disappointed!