London is one of the most expensive places in the world, and with thousands descending upon the city this summer for the 2012 Olympic Games, prices will only climb higher. If you want to visit during the Olympics but fear a cheap trip to London isn't possible, consider the following tips to make your stay in the city a bit more affordable. With some flexibility and a little traveler's ingenuity, you'll be able to save a few pounds across the pond.
London's extensive public transport network can help you stay out of traffic jams and save cab fare. Make this option even cheaper by purchasing an Oyster Card. You can buy a weekly or monthly card, but it's probably easiest for a short-term visitor to get a pay-as-you go card, which doesn't require a photo ID and can be topped off as necessary.
Think outside the center.
When booking accommodation for a cheap trip to London, look beyond the heart of the city and also think outside of the traditional hotel or B&B. You can find a cheap room away from the hub of activity yet still on the public transport network. London is divided into six zones, with the first being the very center and the sixth the outskirts. Research where the venues are for your Olympic events, and consider staying a zone or two farther out on the same transit line. You may spend more time on the Tube, but you'll save a significant amount of money.
When looking for budget London accommodations, consider sites such as Airbnb, Craigslist, VRBO, and even CouchSurfing. Entrepreneurial folks with spare rooms will be looking to cash in on the influx of visitors during the Olympics, and you can use this to your advantage. Often you can negotiate rates with individuals, and respected booking sites have verification standards for hosts and guests alike.
Be creative with flights.
Rather than booking a direct JFK-Heathrow flight, consider buying separate flights and piecing together a cheaper trip to London. For example, use frequent flyer miles to get you to the East Coast, and then price flights to hubs such as Frankfurt and Amsterdam. From there, you can take an EasyJet or RyanAir flight to Luton, Stanstead, or another satellite airport (or ride the train through the Chunnel) at a reduced rate. Just remember that those budget airlines charge you for luggage.
Seek savings elsewhere.
The flight to the U.K. and the tickets to the Olympics are naturally going to take up the largest chunk of your budget, so make up for your spending on those items by scrimping on others. Consult TimeOut London for cheap meals and cocktails, discounted theatre tickets, and a list of free things to do in the city. Consider spending a couple of dollars on a smartphone app that provides tips for a cheap trip to London. For $1.99, for example, you can download Sutro Media's London: Free & Budget app. Sticking to a budget while you're there will help you relax a bit about having to spend so much on the flight and those once-in-a-lifetime tickets.