London is a very popular destination, and for good reason. It’s full of old world charm and history, but very alive with the modern and hip as well. It is also a huge city, so a few little “heads up” before you head out may make your time there even more memorable.
Take the tube: One of the first things you’ll notice is how very HUGE London is. If you try walking everywhere you will simply lose your steam and miss so much. If you taxi yourself about you will spend so much on transportation that you will likely hate London. The good news is that London has a very efficient and easy to use transport system known as “the tube.” Use it. If you want to be extra savvy, purchase an oyster card (rail pass) at the airport. Using the oyster card will cut your tube fare by more than half. Whew!
Credit Card Advice: Most of Europe has converted to the “chip and pin” system. Advanced as it is, it is most US credit cards are not compliant with the “chip and pin” system. So either plan on using cash, or talk with your bank about getting a chip and pin compliant credit card. Also, certain credit cards offer better foreign transaction fees. Speak to your bank well in advance of your trip so you can be sure you have the best credit card they offer.
Budget amply: Along the lines of your spending, be prepared to spend more than you think you will. If you’re showing up in London with US dollars you might be very disappointed at how fast they are flying out of your wallet. At first glance prices may seem comparable, $6 for a good burger, £6 for a good burger. The kicker is that the pound is nearly twice the dollar. Be prepared.
Don’t walk on the wrong side of the street: In the UK they drive on the opposite side of the road. Don’t be the dumb tourist who looks the wrong way and gets hit. This may take some getting used to.
Most museums are free: This is just a good thing to know. There are enough fascinating museums in London , Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, to name a few, all free. Enjoy the free stuff and splurge only when you really want to.