By ALEX SAIFITI.
London is without a doubt one of the best cities in the world and one that most young Kiwis include in their OE. Here are some hints, tips and tricks for making your London adventure a pain-free, economical and excellent experience!
1. Get an Oyster card
These can be bought and topped up at any underground station. They come in handy when travelling around the city, and save you a lot of money.
Daily travel caps at £6.50 (NZD 11.50), so you can continue travelling on buses and trains as much as you want for that day.
2. Don’t be afraid to get lost on the London Underground
When it comes to getting your head around the Underground, make sure you read the signs. They are there for a reason.
Also, the Citymapper app will be your saviour when it comes to getting from A to B. If you don’t have wi-fi, fear not, as you can save trips to your phone which can be accessible without an internet connection.
Get familiar with what lines you can and cannot catch to your accommodation. It pays to know what the last stop is, because often the overhead speaker will announce the approaching train as the name of the line (e.g. Piccadilly line) and final stop (e.g. Cockfosters).
If you do end up getting on the wrong train (there’s no doubt that you will at some point), just get off at the next stop and backtrack. Remember, you are not getting charged for the number of trains you take, you are charged for the number of zones you cross, so don’t worry about cost.
3. Don’t forget about the bus network
The Underground is great, especially for getting from one side of London to the other, but make sure you also do a bit of travelling by bus. Better still, walk around central London; you miss so many amazing sights if you spend most of your time below ground!
4. Visit free attractions
For those of us on a student budget, there is so much to do for free in London! Amazing museums, markets and galleries, window shopping and people-watching, as well as getting those essential photos of the main tourist attractions ticked off and visiting some beautiful parks. It’s a good idea to download the XE currency app to put the transactions you do make into NZ dollar terms.
5. Research and plan your trip
It’s unlikely you will ultimately stick to your plan. Sometimes it is nice just to go out and explore the city and see where it takes you.
Contradictory to that point, there’s so much to do, so don’t make the mistake of arriving and only just beginning to get an idea of what it is you wish to do. By planning, you can attempt to stick to a daily budget and look for the cheaper alternatives in advance, as opposed to rocking up on the day.
Read guide books (e.g. Lonely Planet, Fodder’s Travel), visit websites like TripAdvisor and read and watch travel blogs.
6. Get up early
If you’re doing the big tourist attraction thing, try to visit it as soon as it opens (usually 9 or 10 am). This way, you tend to avoid the crowds and leave when they begin to arrive by the busload.
London is an amazing city; there is so much to see and do. Do some research, remember to stand on the right on escalators, and don’t be afraid to get lost and enjoy the experience of being in one of most tourist-accommodating cities in the world!
Safety always comes first, of course, so look after yourself and others when travelling anywhere!
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