What to bring to London
1) Seasonally appropriate clothes: Men and Women – It gets cold in the winter but its’ not all that warm in the summer either. Don’t forget your jacket or sweater and a scarf.No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll need them. Jeans are good when it get cold but aren’t as great in the rain and damp. Having a pair of leggings or quick drying as well can be helpful for staying warm and dry when the weather turns nasty. Gloves and hats are other must haves during the winter. You’ll also want to make sure your choices will all look okay together so they can be mixed up later.
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3) Rain gear: Women’s and Men’s – London may be known for its fog but it also rains a lot there too. Most travel guides highly recommend that youtake along a small, foldable umbrella. However, for shorter people like me, such a device caneasily can cause more trouble than its worth in crowded spots. A longer rain or leather jacketis probably a better bet for us since we won’t have to worry about poking people in the eye as we’re trudging along. In either case, don’t forget your rain gear.
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6) All Toiletries– Be sure to take along anything you need to stay healthy and presentable such as soap/shower gels, a toothbrush, dental floss, deodorant, shaving razors, hair clips/ties, shampoo and so forth. Taking along a shampoo bar or dry shampoo is a great way to bypass the onerous TSA regulations on what can go in carryon luggage. Conditioner bars are likewise available for travelers that need them as well. The ones I bought lasted a full three weeks and I have shoulder-length hair.
7) Tote – Most sources advise travelers to select a bag with a strap that goes across your chest, but I’ve found that over the arm styles will work just as well. You definitely want something that’s big enough to hold all your essentials items and that’s can also function as a daypack. The bag in question should likewise be able to hold any shopping or souvenirs that you plan on carrying back to your hotel room.
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Other possible packing list items for London
Flip Flops: Women’s and Men’s
What to wear in London
1) Rain gear of some kind.
2) Comfortable walking shoes that have good traction and are suitable as restaurant wear.
3) A scarf. Lightweight for summer, heavy duty for winter. These can also double as blankets on long flights if they’re big enough.
4) Seasonally appropriate garments that can be layered.
5) You might want to take along a few items to dress up your attire if you plan on eating out in fancy restaurants such as khakis, a nice skirt, a button down shirt and/or a dress. Likewise, tasteful but inexpensive jewelry, makeup samples, and a lightweight pair of dressy shoes would be good things to bring along but only if you plan on using them at some point.
What NOT to take to London
1) Heavy Suitcases: This also includes things that will weigh down your luggage such as excessive clothes/shoes, heavy books, and so on. The one exception here is winter clothes. If you’re going during the colder months, you will definitely need them.
2) Valuable Belongings: This is a no brainer. Leave yourexpensive and irreplaceable things at home to avoid the risk of losing them.
3) Camouflage Items: British military personnel aren’t allowed to wear camouflage gear when they’re not working for personal safety reasons. Travelers to the U.K. should therefore leave their camouflage items at home to avoid being mistaken as a member of the military and a potential target for abuse.
4) Hiking Style Gear: Heavy duty boots, zip-off pants, and so on. While this stuff is certainly appropriate for outdoor spots in the UK and you may need it if you’re on a more extensive trip, its otherwise bit pointless to have on hand in downtown London.
5) Anything that screams “Hapless Tourist!”: Please leave your fanny pouches, money belts, and I love New York t-shirts at home. Likewise, decking yourself out in Union Jack or American flag paraphernalia is just not done here. They’re not as obsessed with either flag as we seem to be. That said: you can indeed away with flag socks if your jeans cover them up.
6) Hairdryers: These eat up a good deal of space in your luggage and most hostels/hotels have them on hand for guests anyway.
FAQs about London Travel
1) What is a good basic daily budget for London?
Even budget travelers will easily find themselves coming in at over $100 per day. All thoseTube rides add up and it’s hard to find a hostel dorm bed in a central spot for less than $30. If you plan on staying in a private hotel room, expect to pay a lot more for the privilege. Admissions to popular attractions like the Tower of London can also be pretty pricey. The good news here is that most of the local parks, some of them famous in their own right, are free to the public. So are the major museums in town, such as the British Museum.
2) Do I need to tip in London restaurants?
When purchasing takeaway or drinks at the pubs, you aren’t expected to leave a tip. The rules are slightly different in sit-down restaurants. It’s becoming standard practice to leave 10% of your total bill or just the change if you didn’t order much.Wait staff in most of Europe, including Britain, are paid minimum wage by law so they’re not completely dependent on tips like their American counterparts.However, don’t let your generosity run away with you. Check your bill first.Some places will automatically put aso-called service charge on your tab. This is the equivalent of a prepaid tip, but you don’t have to pay it if your service was bad or you feel it’s unfairly high. Of course, feel free to leave as much as you like for excellent service. Just keep in mind that American sized tips of 20% or more are considered exorbitant in England.Likewise, if you want to make sure the waiters keep the money for themselves, it is best to hand them cash even if you’re paying with a card.
3) When’s the best time to visit London?
In general, the spring is a great time to visit most of Europe. This includes London, particularly if you were planning on stopping at places like Kew Gardens to see the flowers in full bloom. Although warmer and drier weather is far more likely in the summer, you’re going to pay for it with higher prices and larger crowds in popular spots. I hate cold weather so I’d probably never come to England in the depths of winter. But I definitely think that it’s worth dealing with a few overcast days to have relatively quiet travel conditions. Of course, your own thoughts may vary on that score.
4) What are my transportation options for getting to/from London from the nearby airports?
Where it is possible to use either the Tube or the Express Trains, those are your best options. If you’re not in a hurry or money is tight, taking the busalso perfectly fine. However, taxis aren’t recommended because they’re both expensive and time consuming.
5) What if I don’t particularly like fish and chips, can I still find decent thing to eat?
Yes! Although I personally wouldn’t skip that particular dish, English food has apparently changed a lot in recent years and become more than just your typical pub grub. There are plenty of different cuisine styles available in London and some of them are even at reasonable prices. However, if you’re pressed for cash, try the French chain Pret-a-manager. It’s basically like the European version of Panera Bread. I also got hooked on their pickle sandwiches (about £3).
6) Can you suggest some good daytrips from London?
Oxford, Bath, Cambridge and Brighton seem to be the one most commonly mentioned. I personally enjoyed Bath a great deal. It’s a beautiful spa town that dates back to Roman times but was particularly popular during the 1800s. It also makes a good base for visiting nearby places such as Glastonbury, Wells, and Stonehenge. Brighton is another popular day trip from London. It was a favorite beach destination for the Crown Prince in the early part of the 19th century but really gained steam four decades later when the rail lines came into town. Now it’s a bit faded but is nonetheless known for its antiques and its bohemian vibe.
Oxford and Cambridge are famous college towns with lengthy histories. Students of both are known to enjoy spending their free time punting on the nearby rivers. Oxford most notably served as a filming location for the Harry Potter movies and there’s plenty for fans of the series to see. Meanwhile, Cambridge makes a good base for visiting the rest of East Anglia including the nearby countryside towns of Ely and Peterborough, which are both home to ancient cathedrals and other interesting sites.
7) Are there any areas of London that I should probably avoid?
Like any major city, London has its fair share of petty crime but the city center is generally considered a very safe place to visit. Just hold on to your belongings and make sure your luggage is secure at all times (even in your hostel room) to avoid any issues from arising later on. Likewise familiarize yourself with common scams that might be used against you to avoid becoming a victim. Just use the same caution you would exercise in any city and you should be just fine, even at night. I went as a solo female traveler and ended up coming back from the theatre rather late but I didn’t have any problems at all. Then again, I don’t look too much different from the locals so your own results may vary.
8) What should you do if your warm weather gear vanished or was forgotten en route?
While second-hand shops can be found in England if you’re willing to hunt for them, there aren’t any major ones like there are in the United States. Your best bet for finding warm weather clothes at affordable prices are nationally recognized discount chains like Primark.
9) Do I need to buy a map of the Tube before I go?
Not at all! There are perfectly good pocket-sized Tube maps that are available for free at most stations. There are also large city maps on the station walls by the outside doors. These can help you figure out which way to go in order to reach your destination after you depart the premises.
10) What’s the deal with the Oyster Card?
The Oyster Card is a good way to save money on public transport in London because tickets for bus and tube rides are considerably cheaper if they’re not bought individually. If you plan on using or needing a lot of rides in a 24 hour period, using the card means that transportation will never cost you more than a set amount. Oyster Cards can be bought at any Tube station for a £5 deposit as well as how much you want to put on the card. You fill up the card on the machines readers when you enter the Tube or bus and again when you exit. Once you’re done with it, you can cash it out at one of the machines and get your £5 back as well as any money that’s left on it.
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