London is one of my favourite cities to visit but it can be somewhat daunting when you visit for the first time. To make sure you get the best out of your visit and don’t get bankrupted by the pound, here are some tech travel tips to help you navigate the city and the new country.
Travel documents and Flights
If you have a British passport you won’t need a Visa to travel to the UK. When you leave your country show your British passport an imigration and again when you land in the UK. On the way home use your other home country passport. Easy! However, if you aren’t that lucky you will need to apply for a Visa. Luckily the British government has made it relatively easy. The application is done online here. Once you’ve done the online application you then need to get together some basic documents including bank statements, letters from your employer and proof of your plane ticket and accommodation booking. You’ll be able to book an appointment at a Visa centre and off you go.
When it comes to flights my suggestion is to book online directly with the airlines. Qatar airlines offers affordable flights but you will need to fly via Qatar. I try, for the most part, to only fly British Airways as I have an Executive Club membership and earn Avios points on my bookings which can be used for discounts on said flights as well as other travel essentials. They also fly direct from my city which helps. Virgin Atlantic also flies direct and offers affordable flights as well (plus they’re a great airline to travel with). Some of the tips for booking cheap flights in this blog post can be applied to international flights as well so take a look before you book!
I use a Know Roaming sim when I travel so my data costs are sorted. However, London is the best city for travelers looking to connect for cheap. There are WiFi hotspots everywhere (more so than New York) and you can get around easily without having to access data. However, if you’d prefer to be connected always you can purchase a cheap sim card at the airport and load it with a week’s worth of data. You’ll be good to go. There are shops at the airport and vending machines so it really is extremely easy.
The Brits use a Type G plug. It is a three pin plug with flat pins. If you have two pin chargers and the like you’ll need to take an adapter.
Food and Drink
All your favourite franchises are in London but, be warned, your loyalty apps and programmes don’t always work. My deepest devastation was that my Starbucks Rewards app doesn’t work in London. Sob. Take out is cheaper BUT the best places to eat are usually hidden down alleys and off the beaten track. The food in London is the absolute best but avoid the more touristy locations where the prices go up. My absolute must stops for food is actually the Shoreditch tube station. They have incredible little artisan pop up stalls with yummy goodies. I found one run by two blonde girls selling CocoPops Milk. I ended up going back to buy more – it was that good!
Getting around – Transportation
When you land at the airport go straight to the underground desk and buy yourself an Oyster Card. You can get these from machines in the underground as well but rather go to the desk. The people working there are really helpful and when you give them an itinerary of your trip they’ll suggest the best options for you. An Oyster Card is basically gold. You’ll be able to jump on the underground and get around so easily. You can also catch the bus (avoid the night bus at all costs though and splurge on the Uber though). Be sure to check when your lines are running as you don’t want to be stranded after a night out. I swear by City Mapper to get around. It gives the quickest routes and you can download your route on hotel Wifi and not need data to navigate (which is great as there isn’t always signal in the underground!). City Mapper also notifies you of delays on the underground.
Avoid the tube during rush hours or you will become awfully familiar with someone’s underarm or deal with a hand on your bum. Plan around that. Also a quick tip – when catching the bus, raise your arm at the stop if you want the bus to stop.
The better way to tour London
This website is my absolute favourite because you don’t have to pay ridiculous over priced entry and tour fees. Rather you get to do more edgy stuff that gives you a true feel for London and, the best part? You pay what you think the tour was worth. Check out Alternative London to plan some interesting tourist activities that don’t necessarily break the bank (also a great way to make new friends).
Are you heading to London any time soon? Are you based in London? Add to the tips list in the comments below!