Thursday, September 27, 2012

London Layover on a Missionary Budget...

As a missionary, I know what many people think when looking for airline tickets..."I want to most direct route that does not have a layover in some foreign city. That is just MORE money." This is true, our support dollars are precious and the expense of overnighting in London (or elsewhere) is often not worth the cheaper ticket. So, I decided to figure out the cheapest way to do layover in London on a missionary budget.

So to minimalize the expenses, here are my recommendations:

1) Baggage - make sure that you have less than 22 hours laying over in London. If you are less than that, British Airways will allow you to check your bags at your departure city all the way through to your destination city. With this, you have no bags to have to worry about lugging around or storing at the airport. The airlines take care of that for you!  

2) Hotel - this is the biggest expense in London. Where to stay at a cheap price and decent quality. As a missionary, I hear college interns and short term missionaries often say they will stay at a hostel, etc. in the city and if it isn't clean, etc. it does not matter because it is just one night. Between the cheap (often less quality hostel) and the transportation cost to get into the city, one ends up spending about $50 or more a night. So, here is my recommendation...go online to and BID on a 4 star hotel room near Heathrow airport. Missionaries do deserve some pampering from time to time, so BID on a NICE hotel. If you BID for a 4 star room at about $75 US a night, you will often get the Sheraton Heathrow or the Crown Plaza Heathrow. Both are very nice hotels and you will get a good nights sleep near the airport for a cheap price (generally both of those hotels go for about $200 a night).

3) Transport - Once you arrange a place to stay, the cheapest mode of transport is the Hotel Hoppa bus that leaves from the airport every 30 minutes. The cost is 5 British Pounds each direction.  If you want to go even cheaper, you can take one of the regular London buses for a pound or two, but you may wait an hour or so for the bus to arrive at the airport.

If you want to go to Windsor (where the castle is located), you can take bus #77 from bus stop 9 just outside the door to Terminal 5 at Heathrow. The bus takes 40 minutes each direction and costs 5 British Pounds.

If you want to go into the city and go see the sites, take the Tube from Heathrow to the city.  It will cost you half of the price of the Express train.  The travel time from Heathrow to the city is approximately an hour on the Tube or 15 minutes on the Heathrow Express.

4) Eating - Eating at airports or hotels is always going to cost a lot. However, there are ways to make it cheaper. As you exit the arrivals doors at Terminal 5, there are a couple of cheaper eating options. For breakfast the next morning, don't spend money at the hotel. Go to the south end of Terminal 5 Arrivals hall and buy a couple of Krispy Kreme donuts to take with you to the hotel, or go to the north end to M&S Simply Food grocery story and buy some yogurt, fruit, cereal, milk, etc. All hotels have tea and coffee available in your room. For dinner on the evening you arrive, stop by M&S Simply Food and buy a salad (usually around 3 British Pounds) and a Fruit Tray (also about 3 British Pounds). A healthy simple dinner!

Hopefully, this will help you with your short layover at the Heathrow Airport. If you have any specific questions, ask them in the comment section below and I will try to answer them.