How to budget: Brighton breaks

How to budget in Brighton, a cheaper holiday if you have a few days to spare during the summer holidays. “Nothing in life comes for free, but you can try your hardest to do it as cheaply as possible.” Julian Clapp, the local tour guide explained this when I asked how to enjoy Brighton without having to spend money. “There are plenty of things you can do for free; you just need to find them.”

Less than an hour from London, Brighton offsets the stereotypical hen-and-stag do weekend reputation with quirky shops and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Brighton on a budget is not as hard as it seems.

Especially for those who have limited finances, like me. I was determined to spend as little as possible, and still make the most of being in Brighton. A popular tourist destination, backpackers and residents alike are always looking for ways to enjoy Brighton, without the expensive price tag.

Going on a guided tour might not seem like an ideal way to save money, but I was assured it would be cheaper than taking a guided bus around Brighton. For someone who has difficulty taking in facts about a city’s history, a walking guide where the less known locations seemed perfect. According to Julian, I was about to see some of the “peculiar and hippy places that Brighton has to offer.”

According to local legend, the seawater in Brighton has healing properties. At this time of year, I was not planning to take a dip, no matter what anyone said. Nevertheless, swimming in the ice-cold sea is another way in which to truly experience Brighton for free.

“I once had a woman who wanted to bottle some of the sea water,” explained Julian. “Her mum wanted her to take some of the sea water home, because she thought that it has magical healing properties. Personally, I prefer a large glass of red wine, but each to their own.”

Two teenagers, Sarah and Lydia, had also joined me on the guided tour. I asked them why they had decided to come along instead of making their own way around Brighton, and refreshingly, Lydia explained that she “just likes being in a city, and not having to battle the crowds to see all the popular places.” In her opinion, people seem to avoid tourist groups like the plague, and as she so bluntly put, “people see tourists are obstacles, we just get in the way and clog up the streets with our cameras and lack of knowledge about the city we are in.”

I quickly understood that if I wanted to experience Brighton on a budget, I would have to endure the typical tourist experience of visiting Brighton Pier. That is not so easy when Lauren, a girl who came with me, was afraid of piers. Apparently, she is afraid of flying too, so picking a spot on the ground and not moving for eternity may be her fate.

With a brisk sea breeze rushing around my already freezing body, I started to stride forward through the throngs of tourists and locals who had been sucked into the soul-destroying past time of penny slots. Unfortunately, I do not deal well with crowds, and being the weekend, naturally the hyperactive children were out in force.

With the tinny sounds of old pop music blaring from rusty speakers, Brighton pier was living up to the preconceived notion that it was rubbish. British holidaymaking at its finest. The sugary aromas of freshly made doughnuts mingled with the salty sea air, with regular shouts of “I’ve won Mummy I’ve won” from an overexcited youngster. What a way to have a day away on a budget.

One of the more exciting aspects of visiting Brighton was the under cliff walk. With cliffs stretching from Brighton Marina to Saltdean, the awesome power of nature truly came into its own. The decades of wind and wave had carved some spectacular geological sights, and with the prospect of seeing a fossil of a woolly rhino or a mammoth, I ventured on. All too soon I realised I had not dressed for an under cliff walk. Brighton on a budget may be fine, but you cannot have a good time if you have the flu.

It was time to visit the lanes. North Lane has been overrun with jewellery shops. Julian’s theory was that it just started with one, and slowly more and more converged on the narrow, winding lanes. He described them as a “plague of jewel obsessed locusts”.

Despite being dazzled by the shop windows, the lanes were a welcome break from the generic shopping centres that inevitably spring up in all major cities. If you are looking for unique and intricately designed clothes and accessories, then the lanes are home to numerous independent shops, which can be easily seen at a relaxed pace, whilst avoiding the crowds.

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