I saw online a few days ago, that in a survey of 740 people carried out by social networking site CitySocialising, it was suggested that 18% of people planned to leave the country altogether in time for the ceremony!

I’m just curious – is that because 18% of them don’t want to watch the Royal Wedding for whatever reason it may be (Republicans, not interested in weddings) or is it because like me, people are taking advantage of so many Bank Holidays all falling in such a short space of time?

This weekend it’s Easter.  This means that Good Friday and Easter Monday are bank holidays, 3 days back in work, then the Royal Wedding on the Friday, (which is a bank holiday) followed by the May Day (Bank) Holiday the following Monday.  So, all I’ve done is book three days of my holiday but I’m getting an 11 day break.

I’m making the most of this by flying to Sweden this weekend to visit friends, and then some chill out time at home at the end of the week.  I will be watching the Royal Wedding as I’m curious about the frock, and it is one of the things that Britain does well – the ceremony, and pomp and circumstance of state occasions.  It would be a shame to miss it.

I think one of the reasons that so many people will be going away is because we can.  We’re very lucky in the UK that within 4 or 5 hours we can be in at least 30 different countries.  Feel free to sit there with an airline destination maps, timetables and prove me wrong!

We’re also fortunate  in that we have quite a few cheap airlines in the UK.

As a student living in the UK if you do want to travel, a Schengen Visa and low cost airlines make the rest of Europe readily accessible.

Without wanting to offer any competitive advantage to any particular airline the main low cost airlines out of Birmingham are: Easyjet, BMI Baby and Ryanair.  Between them, especially when they have promotions on, you can pick up flights for as little as £8.

However, beware!  Similar to Airasia, it’s the extras that cost.  The flight may be advertised at £8 (if you’re happy to fly at 6:25 in the morning and be there at 4:25 to check in and the airport is in the middle of nowhere, or they haven’t sold out of the cheap tickets!) then you find that you could be charged for

  • online check in
  • delay levy
  • luggage
  • priority boarding
  • pre-booking seats together
  • food
  • charge for using a credit card

and before you know it your £8 fare is now £55.  Which is still cheap – one way!  Depending on when you return it could be the same price, more expensive, cheaper…..

Bear in mind that some airlines don’t fly into the main airport – so you’ll have to pay a lot of money to get from the smaller secondary airport to the city centre.

You should be aware as well that you could be booking two single flights, not a return, so if you miss your flight out, it’s unlikely you’ll get a refund on the “return” flight.  Always check the terms and conditions, and make sure that you’ve got good travel insurance.

All of a sudden it’s not looking quite so cheap.  As long as you’re aware of what to look out for, you can make it work for you.  It’s a personal choice.

We fly out of Manchester tomorrow, but we have to be there at 5:30 am to check in.  We’ve booked parking, we’ll pay for the petrol for the journey and have to leave in the middle of the night to get there.

But, for the two of us, £200 all in for parking, fuel, flights to get to Sweden and back over Easter is a price we’re prepared to pay to see our friends, considering how much more it would be to fly with a “grown up” airline (KLM, Lufthansa, SAS etc) at a reasonable time from Birmingham.

We’re staying with friends.  If you add in the price of a hotel or hostel then you have to be very shrewd when booking cheap flights!

Same applies to travel within the UK – you can get really cheap train tickets and bus tickets, but you have to book a long time in advance and sometimes only for certain trains.  If you miss these trains it can be very expensive.  (I missed my train to Edinburgh in December and ended up paying a LOT of money to get there in time for a conference).

You can check out websites like The Train Line, Megabus, or National Express.  But be careful, and like the airlines, read the small print.

It can be a bargain, but make a bargain work for you.

So that’s how you can take advantage of living in the UK to visit some really great places in Europe, even North Africa.  But don’t forget, you’ve got the whole of the UK to visit as well and there is so much more to the UK than London and Edinburgh.

I’ll blog after my visit to Sweden and talk to you about what you can do in the UK.  I’ll make some recommendations that aren’t just about the tourist trail – going to Shakespeare’s birthplace, Buckingham Palace, but maybe doing something that the locals do – going to a Car Boot Sale, a National Trust property or to a pub quiz.

Living in the UK isn’t just about seeing the major tourist destinations but about experiencing what British people do with their time, and it may surprise you – have you considered an Eisteddfods or Pantomimes at Christmas, a Fetes, Cheese Rolling or Swamp Football, open air concerts in country parks….so many things some of them quite surprising and now typically British!

Has anyone done anything or visited somewhere in the UK that wasn’t on the “tourist map” that you wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for living in the UK or being introduced to something by your British friends?

It would be great if you leave a comment below and share your experiences.

So, Hej då’ as we say in Sweden (Good bye!).