After me and my friends’ day trip into the big city, I came across a few pieces of advice I thought worthwile to share with you all. These apply to anyone travelling to, around, or through London.
Don’t: Buy tickets for each stage of your journey separately.
Not unless is this going to end up more expensive, as you won’t be getting any bulk deals, but this could cause a lot of trouble further down the line. What if you’re running for a train and don’t have time to stop for a ticket? Or your plans change and you need to get on a bus (London buses don’t accept cash)? At the end of the day, your life will be a lot easier if you…
Do: Plan your journey ahead of time.
Tickets are normally cheaper in advance, and you’ll also have the chance to book entry to various attractions, source out the best deals, and figure out the quickest routes from A to B so you’re not panicking on the day.
Don’t: Expect to find cheap food outlets.
Anything you buy in London is going to be two to three times the price of most other major cities. The cheapest food you’ll find is a local Tesco express, and even those prices will increase the closer you get to the city centre. This doesn’t just apply to food – clothes and souvenirs suffer from the same price increase. Want a souvenir from London? Head to Brighton and get one for half the price or less (seriously, they sell London stuff to tourists in Brighton!).
Do: Bring food and drinks with you.
Either bring them from home, or stop at your local supermarket in the morning. Pick up a cheap meal deal and a couple of litres of drink to keep you going, and the money you save from buying lunch in advance can go towards another fun attraction for you or your kids.
Don’t: Try and see everything in the city.
It won’t work. Trust me – you could stay for a month and you still wouldn’t be able to visit every attraction. Let’s not forget the money aspect. While some of the major attractions such as museums offer free entry, most come at a price. So instead of rushing around like a headless chicken trying to see everything at once, take it slow and…
Do: Plan your itinerary beforehand.
Before you book your trip, prioritise what you want to see. Make sure you’re aware about admission charges and include them in your budget. Then bring up a map online and figure out where they’re all located. This should give you a rough idea of where to go first (don’t forget to check opening times!), and whether you can walk between places or if you have to look at other modes of transport.
Don’t: Buy a travelcard unless it’s necessary.
A London travelcard is normally an automatic must have for those travelling to the city. But if you can get around without, then do so. Most major attractions will be within walking distance, and even if it slows you down, it’s worth the walk in the fresh air. If you really are on a tight schedule, then a travelcard is your best bet – it gives you access to the tube (which takes you almost anywhere in London) and the buses. Either way, make sure you…
Do: Have a map with you at all times.
Doesn’t matter whether it’s an app on your smartphone, or a plain old-fashioned road map. There’ll be tourist information posts dotted around the city but they only tell you about stuff in the intermediate area. An app like Google Maps or a different travel planner will be a lifesaver when you have to get across the city.
If any of you have more tips for those travelling to London, feel free to post them below. Otherwise, enjoy your trips into the British capital and stay safe