Is it better to fly to the UK to buy a Raspberry Pi?

Is it better to fly to the UK to buy a Raspberry Pi?

Have you heard of a term called “medical tourism” where people fly to a place to get treatment that’s out of reach in their home countries? What about “fly to buy a pi” tourism?

Raspberry Pis have certainly gone out of reach with the shortages in 2022 which will probably bleed into 2023.

So, is there a case for “Raspberry Pi tourism” where you fly to the UK to buy a Raspberry Pi?

Parameters to build the case

cambridge raspberry pi store
Cambridge Raspberry Pi store

When I went to the Raspberry Pi store in Cambridge, England, I found myself shocked that they had so many boards in stock.

They had every version of the Raspberry Pi 4, and even the Pi Zero 2 W. The latter had a quantity limit, but still better than the unobtanium you’d get elsewhere.

That said, the biggest challenge today is resisting scalpers. If you want to pay multiple times the official price for a Raspberry Pi, you can get it really quickly. But the problem is that we’ll be supporting a business that contributes nothing to the Raspberry Pi community. So the real question here is:

Assuming you can’t get stock from an Approved Reseller, is it cheaper, vs scalped prices, to go on holiday to Cambridge and buy a Raspberry Pi at the official store?

So, let’s put some constants out there:

Factors in the UK

  • All Raspberry Pis are in stock at their official prices
  • You are visiting the Cambridge store or a pop-up store in London or Edinburgh.
  • Your time is not a factor in the consideration because you are visiting these places for tourism
  • You will fly to London and take a train and bus to the Cambridge official store.
  • You will buy return fares for all transportation because you need to get home

Where you might be flying from

Let’s also use some locations to build a test case:

  • Europe: Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid
  • USA: New York

Capturing flight, Pi prices

  • Flight prices will be taken from Google Flights data
  • Official prices will be taken from Raspberry Pi
  • Scalped prices will be taken from Amazon’s prices of October 2022
  • We will use the cheapest adult fares for rail services

From Berlin to Cambridge official store

If you’re from Berlin and flying to London, expect to pay 60 to 150 € with the cheaper flights going to airports north of London — which is good because Cambridge is also north of London.

The big question is where you should fly to buy a Pi!

For simplicity, let’s take the Ryanair flight to Stanstead as the flight you’ll be taking.

From Stanstead to the Cambridge official store costs £8.80 (rail) and £2.20 for an adult bus fare, or about 12.60 Euros. Double that for a return, so let’s make it simple and call it 25 €.

Therefore, your land transportation costs are 25€, and 60€ to 150€ for a return flight.

A price of a scalped Raspberry Pi 4 4GB is 160€.

The official price for a Raspberry Pi 4 4GB is US $55, which comes to about 56€.

What’s missing: your transportation cost at origin location (e.g. metro to Berlin/Paris/Amsterdam/Madrid airport).

Return journey componentsPrice
Berlin to Stanstead (London)60 to 150 €
Stanstead to Cambridge Raspberry Pi store (train + bus)25€
Raspberry Pi 4 4GB56€
Total (excluding costs of travel in originating city)141€ to 231€
Savings vs scalped price (160€)19€ to -71€*
* A negative number means you won’t save money

Other locations

Paris to Cambridge (return)Price
Paris Orly to London Gatwick75 to 125 €
Gatwick to Cambridge50€
Raspberry Pi 4 4GB56€
Total (excluding costs of travel in originating city)181€ to 231€
Savings vs scalped price (160€)-21€ to -71€*
Amsterdam to Cambridge (return)Price
Schiphol airport to London Gatwick45 to 110 €
Gatwick to Cambridge50€
Raspberry Pi 4 4GB56€
Total (excluding costs of travel in originating city)151 € to 216€
Savings vs scalped price (160€)9€ to -56€*
Madrid to Cambridge (return)Price
Madrid to Stanstead30 to 175 €
Stanstead to Cambridge25€
Raspberry Pi 4 4GB56€
Total (excluding costs of travel in originating city)111 € to 256€
Savings vs scalped price (160€)49€ to -96€*
* A negative number means you won’t save money

Therefore, the conclusion is as such:

  • Your flight cost is the biggest variable that influences whether you’d pay less than a scalped board.
  • The rail journey from Stanstead to Cambridge is the cheapest versus Luton or Gatwick
  • You are likely to hit up against quantity limits per sale, so don’t expect to get too many boards.

What about Americans?

The sums do not work in an American’s favour favor because of the expensive flight.

Let’s look at New York to Cambridge.

NYC to Cambridge (return)Price (USD)
NYC to London Gatwick$470 to $840
Gatwick to Cambridge$50
Raspberry Pi 4 4GB$55
Total (excluding costs of travel in originating city)$575 to $945
Difference vs scalped price ($160)-$415 to -$785

The same reasoning would apply to any person flying in from afar, such as Japan, India, etc.

Cambridge, a beautiful city designed for nerds

Let me tell you a bit about why a Raspberry Pi enthusiast should be excited to visit Cambridge.

In addition to doing a little pilgrimage to the Raspberry Pi store in the city centre mall, Cambridge is located in “Silicon Fen” which is the British equivalent of Silicon Valley. It’s named as such because of the cluster of high-tech industries in the area.

One attraction that’s not to be missed is the Centre for Computing History. I thoroughly enjoyed their displays of yesteryear’s gaming consoles, displays of typewriters, model offices of the ’70s, and much more.

You can see some 360 views of the museum here.

In addition, make sure to look at their event calendar. They might have a workshop, talk or event that you might enjoy. For example, when I visited, they were using a Raspberry Pi 400 to teach Pygame.

BONUS: Should you visit a pop-up store instead?

raspberry pi pop up store london
Don’t visit a Raspberry Pi pop-up store late in the day and expect to buy a board…

Raspberry Pi sometimes puts on pop-up stores and that’s another place where you can buy a Raspberry Pi.

In 2022, they had pop-up stores in Edinburgh and London. Both beautiful cities to visit for a holiday, for sure.

I was there at the Oct. 28-29 London pop-up store and I observed these tidbits:

If you want to buy a board that’s in high demand, get in a queue before their opening hours

Let’s look at Raspberry Pi’s Tweets to get a sense of how much leeway you have.

The store opened at 10 am.

They had stock of Pi 4s, 400s, Picos and Zero (in a kit).

By 12:42pm, Raspberry Pi tweeted that the Pi 4 8GB is out of stock.

A not-so-successful example of "fly to buy a pi" tourism

They restocked on the next day and here are the timelines:

Tweet timeline for Oct. 29 Raspberry Pi pop-up store

I went two hours before closing and you could only buy a Raspberry Pi 400 Desktop kit.

So, the conclusion is:

  • Pi 4 8GB is in high demand. Make sure to queue even before they open their pop-up store.
  • You can relax a little bit if you want a Pi 400 or Pico.
  • Don’t go at the end of the day and expect anything in demand left.
  • Go there to meet other Raspberry Pi enthusiasts! It’s a rare opportunity for nerds to “chin-wag” face-to-face.
raspberry pi maker in residence toby roberts and author xuyun zeng  - a successful example of "fly to buy a pi" tourism
Raspberry Pi’s Maker-in-Residence, Toby Roberts, and me, having a “chin-wag” about all things nerdy.

Got more data?

If you have tried this before and want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment.

Perhaps I have overlooked some detail?

As anyone who has been on British public transport would have heard: “See it. Say it. Sorted.” 👇

By the way, you should also sign up for our Raspberry Pi Reservation Tool.

And feel free to check out our Paragon Projects series for ideas on what to do with your Raspberry Pi by clicking here.


  1. Toby Roberts on November 7, 2022 at 7:01 am

    Great article! Cambridge is a beautiful place to visit and grabbing a Raspberry Pi while you’re there makes it well worth the trip.

  2. […] Your next best alternative is to use certain resources to buy the board including rpilocator, our Reservation Tool or by going to the Raspberry Pi official store in Cambridge. […]

  3. […] It remains one of the most unusual years in its history too. If you wanted one today, you can’t buy it at official prices unless you flew to Cambridge. […]

Leave a Comment