Whether you're heading to London to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Houston Texans Sunday, or you're going just for fun, here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most bang for your buck.
As someone who lived in London for graduate school, I quickly realized how expensive the city can be. Thanks to my many British friends, I was given the insider's guide to living like a Londoner without breaking the bank.
1) Buy an Oyster Card to get around
The first thing you should do upon arriving in London is buy an Oyster Card. It's like a New York City Metro card. It's your golden (or blue) ticket to getting around the city cheap. And you might be thinking, "Why is it called an Oyster Card?" Well, because "the world is your oyster."
You can get one at any kiosk in the London Underground (The Tube), and if you're flying into Heathrow Airport they have kiosks too.
At the kiosk, you can put a specific amount of money on the card based on the zones in London you plan to travel (London is divided into nine zones). Make sure you have enough to get you to and from Wembley Stadium Sunday, located in Zone 4. If you run out of money, not a problem! You can "top up" at any kiosk in the Tube stations.
Pro Tip: Don't forget to tap in and out when traveling by underground trains. If traveling by bus, you only need to tap your card at the front keypad.
That brings me to my next Pro Tip: Save yourself 35 pounds and don't do a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour. Instead, use that Oyster card to travel by bus or even walk.
2) How to sightsee for cheap
My favorite way to sightsee in London is by sitting at the top of the iconic double-decker buses. The front seat is the best seat for unobstructed views while you drive around London getting to your destination. And it'll only cost you roughly three to five pounds.
Not into buses for sightseeing? Not a problem. Another sightseeing secret to get those gorgeous London Instagram pics is to visit some of the best skyscrapers and buildings for skyline views.
My favorites are the Sky Garden in the famous "Walkie-Talkie" building (it looks like a giant walkie-talkie), the top of St. Paul's Cathedral (but be ready to climb 528 steps - I've done it and it's worth it) or the Monument to the Great Fire of London (only 311 steps).
The Sky Garden is free, but drinks and food are not. St. Paul's is 18 pounds for adults (tour of the crypts included). The London Monument is 4.50 pounds.
Booking online in advance for any major tourist attraction can save you a couple pounds too and "fast track" you in line.
3) Free or cheap things to do
Overall, London is also a very walkable city. It's a great way to take in the various sights for free.
One of my favorite touristy walking routes starts in the theater district in the West End, where you can get half-priced and discounted theater tickets at the TKTS stand or enjoy Covent Garden and all it's delicious restaurants and shops. From there you can walk 15 minutes and find yourself in Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of London. Then head toward Trafalgar Square where you can visit The National Gallery.
Pro Tip: All the museums in London are free!
From Trafalgar Square you can see views of Big Ben in the distance, though currently getting a makeover.
Head down "The Mall" and you will find yourself right in front of Buckingham Palace. You can see the Changing of the Guards when the weather is nice for free every day at 10:45 a.m.
4) Don't tip your server -- It's not required!
You'll probably be starving after all of that sightseeing. A great place to get local eats is at one of the many outdoor markets. The most famous is the Borough Market, but I also like the Old Spitalfields Market. For something funkier, definitely head to Camden Market. It's quite an eclectic experience.
You'll find food from local vendors, restaurants, mom and pop shops, antiques and more at any of those outdoor markets.
Pro Tip: Do not tip your server! That might sound rude, but servers actually get offended when you do tip them. The tip is automatically included in your bill. So if you do tip, you're not only offending your waiter, but you're throwing your money away.
5) Download the CityMapper app (before you leave)
And before you jet off to a foreign land that thinks football is played with your feet, download the CityMapper app. The navigation app gives you real-time transportation updates for the tube, bus and even the best walking routes. They'll include the price for your trip (so you'll know if you need to top up that Oyster card in advance), and even give you rain safe transport routes.
Now, you're all set to make the most of your trip, whether you're seeing the Jags at Wembley or watching from the pub, without burning a hole in your wallet.
And don't forget: chips = french fries, crisps = chips.