- Check the weather before you go
London’s weather has been known to be unpredictable so be sure to check the weather before leaving. This way you are prepared and aren’t stuck buying unnecessary clothing over there.
2. Exchange your money before you go
If you are planning on staying in London for more than a day, be sure to exchange your American dollars to Pounds before leaving. This will be cheapest option because you may be charged larger fees if you exchange in London. Make sure you DO NOT exchange at the airport, here or there. The airport is known to over-charge for money exchanges.
3. Know the exchange rate of the Pound to your primary currency
The Pound has usually been worth more than the American Dollar. However, the actual exchange rate fluctuates frequently. Be sure you are aware of how many dollars is equal to one pound.
4. London is expensive
Since the Pound has been higher than the dollar, many items in London are fairly expensive. You can find yourself spending $6.50 on a small cup of coffee. Before purchasing anything, round off how much it would cost you in American Dollars or whatever your primary currency is. This could help prevent overspending during your stay there. I’d also recommend checking Yelp to check for the more affordable restaurants if you are traveling on a budget.
5. Travel during December for less crowds
We traveled there during the second week of December and we had no problem with crowds at all. Traveling during this time has been known to be their low tourist season. It is much easier to get around when the streets aren’t crowded with tourists and you will be able to enjoy the tourist sights much more. Plus you get to experience the city while it is decorated for the holidays!
6. London is a fairly safe city
After traveling around three different countries, Dustin and I agreed that we felt the safest in London. It is the closest in similarity to America, which made us feel more comfortable. Most of the city’s neighborhoods are very clean, including their public transportation. Obviously, keep your guard up because you just never know, but it is good to know that the city is a safe place to be.
7. The Tube is great
As mentioned above, London’s public transport is pretty clean. The Tube is their main subway system that takes you all around London. It is SO easy to use, having route maps everywhere to make sure you are never lost. The trains themselves are very clean with comfortable seats. You are also able to get to and from the airport through the train.
8. Beware of Stansted Airport
Stansted Airport is one of the popular airports tourists use when flying in and out of London. It is about a 45 minute train ride from London. We flew out of this airport when flying to Rome and it was one of the most hectic airport experience of my life. When waiting in line for security, you need to have all your liquids that you’re carrying with you in one ziploc bag. This ziploc bag also needs to be outside of your bag. If you leave the smallest liquid items just laying inside your personal item or carry-on, your bag will be searched. This can delay you, so be sure to have ALL of your liquids in that ONE ziploc bag and place it outside of your bag in the bin.
After security you are forced to walk through this never-ending mall of stores. If that wasn’t frustrated enough, when you went to find your gate, you wren’t able to. The airport does not tell you your gate number until about 30 minutes before your flight. We couldn’t believe it. When you peer up at the screen to search for your gate number, all you’ll see is the word, “RELAX.”
So, be advised if you’re flying out of this airport, I recommend arriving two hours early to be sure you get through everything with time.
10. Do research on tourists sights before you leave
Some sights in London offer students discounts or cheaper tickets online. Be sure to research everything you’d like to do and ticket prices. These discounts may save you a good amount of money, so don’t just buy tickets in person without checking online first.
11. No tipping
In Europe, it is known that they don’t really tip. Unless your receipt has a tip line or if your tour guide asks for some, do not tip them. Some people actually find it rude when you tip them
12. Use Rick Steves!
I mentioned this in the full blog post, but I can’t stress this enough. Rick Steve’s Audio Tour App was the best thing we could’ve discovered before our trip. We saved a ton of money by not purchasing audio tours when we visited major tourist sights. Rick is incredibly knowledgable and enthusiastic when giving his tours. You won’t be dissapointed with his audio tours and will be so thankful you didn’t have to waste your money on a tour guide.
13. All in all HAVE FUN!