How To Travel For Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's Wedding From The U.S. If You're On A Budget
One of the few fun things about being an American in 2017 is that, given the time difference, we end up waking up to whatever good news Kensington Palace decides to drop on Twitter. This morning was an announcement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding date will be Sunday, May 19, 2018. This was following the much less specific announcement that it would take place in May at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle — now, with dates added into the mix, a lot of Americans are probably wondering if they can travel to London the weekend of the royal wedding.
A word of warning to people thinking about flying into London that weekend, whether American or not: it is going to be a scene. Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in 2011 saw a 266 percent increase in flight bookings and a 211 percent increase in hotel reservations, according to Expedia. And it turns out the U.S. was mostly to blame — they took up three times as many of the reservations compared to British citizens. The area outside of Westminster Abbey was packed to the gills not just with the 1900 guests and security, but with nearly one million spectators. The hullaballoo extended far beyond the city, too — it was estimated that there were about 5,000 street parties in Britain the day of the wedding as well.
In short: if you're looking into this, make sure you are a person who can handle chaos, and someone who plans ahead.
If you're interested in traveling for the royal wedding, your best bet is to attempt to snag flights and accommodations now. Your best bet is likely to book travel from a Wednesday to a Wednesday or a Tuesday to a Tuesday; these two days are typically the cheapest to fly, and that will give you a chance to settle before and after the bulk of the crowd starts to flood the city. Right now, a ticket from New York to London on a round trip from Wednesday, May 16 to Wednesday, May 23 is as low as $330; a round trip with the same dates from Los Angeles is as low as $440. (You can plug in your own city on Google Flights for the best possible airfares.)
Granted, these prices are in place a few hours following the announcement of the wedding date — so again, if you intend to do this, you should buy those tickets fast.
As for accommodations, you'll want to decide exactly what kind of trip you're taking on either end of the wedding. The royal wedding itself will take place at St. George's chapel, which is an approximately 40 minute drive from London (granted, it will probably be a lot more than that on the actual day). If you want to stay close to the wedding site, hotels in Windsor range from $35 for hostels to $956 for more luxury accommodations per night the weekend of the royal wedding; again, that may be subject to change now that the dates have been announced. Assuming that you'll want to stay in London for the beginning or tail end of the trip, you're looking at prices between $29 for hostels all the way up to $1534 for luxury accommodations in the weekdays leading up to and after the wedding.
Essentially, to keep this trip as cheap as possible, your best bet is to book travel early, stick with hostels if you're able, and take advantage of whatever public transportation you can. A hypothetical trip from Wednesday to Wednesday out of New York could cost $330 for plane fare, around $120 for three nights in London, around $70 for two nights in Windsor, and $120 for another three nights in London if you book now — and you can use the South Western Railway connecting the Waterloo Station in London to Windsor & Eton Riverside for approximately £10.20 (about $13.50) each way during peak times to save money on traveling between locations.
Essentially: it is possible to get in and out of the once-in-a-lifetime royal wedding event for less than $1,000 if you book it now; just don't forget to ask for the time off before you hit those buttons!