I recently had the joy of traveling to London, England. I had not been there in some time and quite a few things had changed! Not just in general but also in the way that I traveled and got around once I got there. Since I have already given you all tips about my travels to Greece, I thought, why not help out my readers with some tips for when they travel to London as well!
The first thing to take a look at is weather. I was blessed with almost summer-like weather while I was there but this is not usually the case. Even if you look up the weather beforehand, be sure to pack a few pieces for those sudden showers and changes in temperature just in case. For the most part, London doesn’t get very hot and if you are near the Thames it can be a bit windier and colder than you might expect.
While you are thinking of what clothes to patch, check your electronics. I stayed at the Doubletree Hilton at Tower of London and while the hotel may be modern in a lot of ways, there were no USB ports in the rooms. If you want to charge your phone, you’ll have to have an adaptor. And be sure to bring the whole set of them. There are some adaptors that will say Great Britain and others that say UK. I made the mistake of not bringing my whole set and the one I thought was correct, was not. Luckily, the concierge at the hotel had one to offer me. This is not always the case so be sure to pack in advance. If you forget and if the hotel is all out, you can purchase one. I recommend going to Oxford street, the shopping district will have one there for a few pounds, less expensive than other areas that know tourists are looking for them and will charge more.
The easiest thing to do to get around the city is to walk. You will discover so much more walking around than you might sitting on a tour bus. The city does have walk on, walk off buses for tours that you can sign up for that allows you to have the structure of a tour when you want but the adventure of your own footsteps when you don’t.
I used my GPS and google maps to help me get around. You can select the transportation option or the walking option and it will tell you what underground stations and stop to take and even the buses. If your feet are tired from doing a lot of walking, you can select the least amount of walking as well.
To get the most out of your travel buck, I recommend getting an Oystercard. You could get a Travelcard but I find that those limit what mode of transportation you can take. The Oyster card is accepted even for the Heathrow train (I’ll get to that one in a minute). There are kiosks right at the airport where you can purchase an Oyster card and load it right away. You can use –https://t.co/HoaPLcyDzr in order to plan out some of your trips and get an idea of how much you want to put on your card in advance. Make sure to get one for each person, it is not allowed to use one card for several people at once.
It is best to plan out your trips in advance and put them into your phone. This way you don’t have to try to search for them once you are there. If the locations are already saved in your google maps then you’ll use less battery and internet connectivity trying to look them up while on the go. A few of my friends asked me if Uber was available while I was in London. Yes, Uber does work in London. You can also get the traditional black taxicab but it will be more expensive. If you’re ever afraid of walking somewhere, Uber is safe to use. Just to be sure to track the map of your return back so they don’t take the long way for more charges and also for safety first!
If it’s your first time, I highly recommend going to the center of London and seeing Big Ben, Parliament, etc. The earlier you go, the better. The later in the day it is, the more tours have started to arrive and the areas can get very crowded, very quickly. It is also a good idea to buy tickets for things online in advance if you can. But be sure to check if these require an in person pick up the day of. Upon visiting the tower of London to see the crown jewels, I purchased my ticket online but had to have a paper version to get in. My hotel’s printer was down so I had to go to the ticket office. Being there before 930am allowed me to get my paper ticket and get in without having to stand in a large line. A note on the crown jewels- you cannot take photographs and you stand on a moving walkway as you glide by the displays.
In terms of payment, most places accept credit cards. What you may want to watch out for is the foreign transaction fees on your credit card. Most companies will charge per transaction, not a flat rate for your time there. You can order pounds from your bank and you can also return them to your bank once you have returned. Bank of America, for instance, will accept all the bills but not the coins. Not sure why, so make sure that you spend the coins first!
Last, but certainly not least, photos! You know I don’t go anywhere without pics, right? Why struggle to take photos with your phone or try to find someone to take one with it for you? Airbnb has an amazing service called photowalk. You can choose the city that you are going to be in, such as Photowalk in London. I chose that service and my photographer Domi was amazing!! She helped me figure out what areas I wanted to take photos in, how to get there, how long we would be and so much more! She was super friendly and my pics turned out fabulous to boot!
There you have it, my tips and tricks for traveling to London. Please let me know if you have any additional questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments below!