27 Jul 4 Tips for a Trip to London
We recently flew into London and spent two brief nights in the city before continuing on to France for a wedding. I had been to London once before, back in high school, and it was Jedd’s first time to the UK. Our typical method of travel involves spending a lot of time outdoors, getting a feel for each place by exploring on foot, and participating in free or low-budget activities. This, paired with the fact that we’d also be recovering from jet lag, deterred us from using our precious time (and money) in London inside museum walls or trying to stay awake in a theater. Instead, we spent most of our time walking around town.
Here are four resources that helped make our short stay in London successful:
On any trip, accommodations can make life easier or more complicated. I asked a friend to recommend good neighborhoods in London, and then I cross-checked their locations against the public transit lines coming from the London-Heathrow airport and going to the St. Pancras train station, where we would catch our train through the Chunnel to Paris. Fortunately, both the airport and train station are on the Piccadilly subway line, and I found a nice apartment on Airbnb in the theatre district, just two blocks from a tube station on the same line.
The other benefit I’ve found using Airbnb is convenience and savings on meals. Of course, part of the fun of travel is eating out, but doing so on a daily basis is not budget-friendly when traveling long-term. We dined out for both lunches and one dinner, sampling classic British fare like pot pies and bangers and mash at The Red Lion. For our breakfasts, we picked up yogurt, cereal, and fruit from a nearby supermarket. And our second dinner consisted of local cheeses, prosciutto, melon, and bread, purchased from the Borough Market.
Rick Steves Youtube Videos
If there’s one guy to go to for travel in Europe, it’s Rick Steves. I personally didn’t have much time to study up, but my Mom watched his videos online for every stop on our trip, and she always had useful info and tidbit of trivia to share from his shows as we visited various sites.
Lady Relocated Visitor Guide to London
These days, I rely more and more on fellow bloggers to get recommendations on the best places to visit in a new place. A former school-mate of mine has been living and working in London since 2013 and runs the blog Lady Relocated. She put together a guide for first-time visitors, which we used to make sure we weren’t missing anything. We didn’t have time to complete the full itinerary that Jen recommends, but we managed to walk to most of the main attractions: Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Borough Market, etc. My parents had an extra day and visited Tate Modern and the British Museum. If we had more time, I think we would have added more neighborhoods to our walks. Jen recommends Notting Hill and Angel.
Offline Map App
A Note About Cell Phones: With our generation’s growing attachment to smartphones, one of the most pressing concerns for Americans going abroad is how to get cell phone service and data. Fortunately, Jedd is on a T-Mobile plan which includes free international data and texting in many countries. Others in our family got international sim cards for their unlocked phones and paid for data, texts, and phone calls as they went.
Even if you don’t have a data plan abroad, there are now smartphone apps that allow you to see your location on a map. Normally, you’d need cell data to see a map on your phone, but these apps download detailed maps in advance – either before your trip or whenever you have wifi – and use triangulation to pinpoint your location. It’s not always 100% accurate and you usually can’t search or get step by step directions, but you have the benefit of seeing exactly where you are.
We used Ulmon’s CityMaps2Go to travel by foot all over the place. Here are the two main routes we took to cover many of the sights in London:
(Click on the maps above for more detailed route on MapMyRun)
What are your favorite spots in London? Do you recommend any tools or resources for improving your time in this area?
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