London: It’s a historic city with so much to offer that you might find it difficult to decide where to begin! Architectural wonders, museums brimming with fascinating artifacts, and contemporary attractions such as the London Eye make for a memorable trip. Whatever brings you to London, you’ll find that these travel tips make your stay more enjoyable while helping you save money.
Travel London with Convenient Passes
London’s metropolitan area covers an incredible 3,236 square miles. One of the world’s chief cultural capitals and the planet’s most-visited city, it is home to countless attractions – and getting to the ones you want to see can be quite a challenge without a little help from transit systems like the Tube, buses and trams, taxis, cable cars, and even riverboats. As you plan your itinerary, notice which transit systems will help you get there, and then look into a local travel pass. Choices like Oyster Pass and the London Travelcard offer steep discounts on public transportation. Paired with The London Pass, which offers entry to more than 80 attractions and tours for a single price, you can easily make your way around the city.
Make Plans & Stay in Touch
The odds are good that you’ll need to make at least a few calls during your trip’s planning phase, as well as calls home while you’re visiting London. Viber is a free app which, when installed on your tablet or phone, lets you use the internet to make calls even if you’re out of your carrier’s service area. Calls to others who use the app are provided free of charge, and it’s possible to dial landline and cellular numbers for a lower price than that offered by traditional landline and cellular providers. Wi-Fi hotspots can be found throughout London, making it easy to stay in touch. Best of all, you can use the device of your choice – the app works with iOS, Android, and Windows tablets, mobile phones, and laptops, so there’s no SIM card or extra equipment to buy. Photo sharing, text messaging, and other fun features are free between Viber app users.
Insure Your Trip and Look after Your Safety
London has a well-deserved reputation as a friendly, safe destination – but there are a few known issues to be aware of. First, be certain that you’ve purchased travel insurance that covers your valuables as well as your trip and any possible emergencies. Second, practice good personal safety protocol by carrying only as much cash as you need, avoiding ATM machines at night, and staying away from isolated areas. Keep purses and backpacks zipped and close to you while you’re traveling on the Tube and other public transit systems, and use the city’s official black cabs if you’re out and about on your own after the sun goes down. Like any large city, London is home to a criminal element that preys on easy targets. Simple awareness can prevent you from becoming one of them.
Know When to Visit
London travel is possible all year round, but there are a few times when the city may be more crowded or less pleasant than usual. If you want to visit the many Botanical gardens, you’ll find them at their best in late springtime. August, in general, can be hot and since air conditioning isn’t common, you’re likely to be uncomfortable. For fewer crowds and pleasant weather, consider a visit in September. Check London’s October half-term school break dates, and consider avoiding London then; it’s a popular time for families with children to visit all the free attractions, and crowds can detract from your experience. Finally, do consider visiting London at Christmastime as it’s beautiful, but watch out for all the shoppers in the city’s central area: The crowds can be massive, which might or might not be a bad thing depending on your preferences.
Get At Least One Universal Electric Adapter
Charge electronics and plug in personal care appliances with the help of a universal electric adapter. These inexpensive but indispensable gadgets take the frustration out of the equation, so pick up a few either before your trip or at one of the airport shops. There are a few types of universal power adapters available – do a little bit of research before you buy so you know which will best suit your needs. Additionally, note that most hotels have 110-volt outlets that are marked for use with shavers only. These are not suitable for higher-wattage styling tools such as blow dryers; use a larger outlet instead.
Carry Important Contact Information with You
London’s general emergency number is 999. Memorize it, and have other important numbers available. Some to consider:
- Your doctor
- Your house sitter / pet sitter
- Important personal contacts at home
- Your country’s embassy / consulate in London
Take Afternoon Tea At Least Once
Afternoon tea has been a British tradition since the early 1800s, and London’s tea rooms are famous for their delightful treats. Make time in your schedule to indulge at least once, and be sure to arrive hungry! You’ll be glad you did.