How to Prepare for Your First Trip to London

Trip to London

Travel is an exciting and wonderful way to become more acquainted with the world around us, to become more acquainted with other cultures, and to rediscover that youthful joy of living!

One of the best places to consider for travel, whether you are a veteran or a first-time traveler, is London. A city that is simultaneously very old and very modern, boasting incredible accessibility, a variety of cultural influences, and plenty to explore.

London is a must-visit location, although how positive your experience in London is may depend on how prepared you are for your visit.

There are a number of ways to prepare yourself for a trip to London, and all of them will help make your visit perfect. Here are a number of ways to make your trip to London one full of positive memories.

1. Currency and Payments

First and foremost, the currency in England is the Pound, so if you are looking to bring some cash with you, make sure you exchange your USD for Pounds, not Euros! However, cash and coin are actually not the best way to get around in London.

Almost everywhere you go in London will have a contactless payment as their preferred form of payment. This means chip cards, tap cards, and services like Apple Pay. Like many big cities, things move quickly, and these types of payments allow everyone to keep moving. 

Most credit and debit processors such as Visa, Discover, and American Express will support automatic currency conversion from USD to Pound, though some have fees.

Before you travel, get your card set up for this service, notify your bank, and make sure that you set up your card to make payments through your smartphone with its tap function. 

This lack of cash-carrying also leaves you less susceptive to pickpocketing. If you lose a card, you can always cancel it. If you lose paper money, you aren’t getting it back.

2. Dress Versatile

While it depends a little bit on the season, you will quickly notice that most people in London are fairly well dressed, typically in decent clothes with a jacket or a number of layers.

Many locals own a few nice outfits that are recycled and can accompany them through almost every season. So what does this mean for you?

Bring clothing that fits different weather—though is always prepared for rain. You want clothes that you can comfortably walk in, go to a nice restaurant in, and that will protect you from rain, as you can count on getting rained on during your stay.

Obviously, in the summer you don’t need to worry about bringing very warm clothes, but during the autumn through spring months, you will want to prepare for some cold days. Additionally, an umbrella is an absolute necessity. 

Lastly, you will be doing a lot of walking, so make sure that you have a pair of shoes that you like that are also comfortable over long distances. 

3. Walking Distance

Much of London is within walking distance. While it is a large city, you can get around on foot quite easily. Make sure that you have a working device that lets you navigate where you are and don’t be afraid to walk around.

You may discover some of the best parts of London on foot! It is incredibly pedestrian friendly. 

5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Aside from walking, there are a number of easy ways to get around London. Their public transportation is one of the most accessible in the world, however, it can get confusing.

When you fly into London airport (LHR), we recommend you take the train to wherever you are staying, as this is far faster and cheaper than taking a taxi.

Additionally, you can utilize luggage storage if you need to wait for your room or reservation to be ready, such as luggage storage in Victoria Coach station

There are multiple different trains running in and around London, but the Underground will be your friend for getting around quickly.

Getting onto this railway system utilizes a pass, or simply tapping your contactless payment method on the turnstiles, charging a few Pounds to your account.

The Underground system can be a little confusing if you’re unfamiliar with it, so don’t be afraid to ask a local, or a railroad worker for help.

There are plenty of taxis and Ubers throughout London as well. For short distances, both typically cost nearly the same, however, for medium to long distances, an Uber will usually cost you a chunk less than a taxi will, and you will know the cost of your trip upfront.

There is also a bus system that functions similarly to the Underground in terms of payment and boarding. 

6. Don’t be Afraid!

London can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it is always easy to get where you need to go, and the people tend to be very hospitable to newcomers. Explore, be a considerate and respectful tourist, and you will have a great experience.

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