Recently I went to London with my daughter and her family including three children under eight. My daughter studied in London as a college student and was eager to take the kids to one of her favorite cities. They also took me, nearly a stay at home, along. I was worried I’d be bumbling and in the way. No need to have fretted. It was a perfect trip, Here’s my advice on what to bring if you are a novice traveler to London.
For sure take: a longer raincoat with a hood. Most people there wear ones that are not rubbery looking.
I wore water resistant comfortable shoes. There are lots of escalators and narrowish stairs so don’t get anything too clunky.
Buy an Oyster card for your UK travel needs. Kids ride the Tube free. Enter with them using the stroller doors.
Although hotels have universal plugs it might be just one per room so consider carrying a travel adaptor.
A credit card with no foreign transaction fee. Your Costco associated card will do this. Be sure to call the company and give them your travel dates. And if the merchant asks for dollars or pounds, say pounds.
Skip: an umbrella. Annoying tourists with umbrellas almost poking your eyes out will convince you that you might as well just walk in the rain like the Londoners do. If you find yourself wanting one, almost any tourist and sidewalk shop sells them.
Worry less about: your hair. It rains a lot there. Your hair isn’t going to look great unless you spend too much time with it. People walking around looking glamorous appeared to be tourists in London to shop. In fact, one native Londoner told us that intelligence and personality are more important than attractiveness to the British. However, London is a diverse city so look how you like. Speaking of glamour, they do have some fabulous department stores but we were on a holiday with kids so if we even glanced at a nice purse the baby would break free–so no shopping this trip even though we stayed just off Oxford Street. On the plus side, returning through customs is easy when all you have is that catapult pencil sharpener the kids insisted that you buy for grandpa.
I probably wouldn’t: drive.
Avoid jet lag: To accomplish this I followed advice of several of my London loving friends–cut back on caffeine the week before, eat more carbs than protein, wear compression socks. (Sockwell was my favorite brand.) I spent the long flight there watching movies, eating, resting my eyes, taking kids to the toilet. In essence, I pulled an all-nighter, something I hadn’t done since I took organic chemistry in graduate school. I wasn’t looking forward to it but when someone on the plane opened the window and I was treated to a brilliant sunrise over the UK, my heart jumped for joy. I was wide awake and eager to start the day.
The flight on the way back was an hour longer due to strong headwinds. Then I had a four hour layover! I walked around the airport and had a vitamin drink, popcorn, and nuts for dinner. My second flight was delayed due to an issue with a tire. I slept briefly on the 2 hour flight back, dreaming of the devils from The Book of Mormon.
What I loved about London:
Neighborhoods are so cute and there is something about the light in London that makes flowers vibrant. It’s fully worth a wandering about.
Here is a residence in Camden, an adorable area of London.
Here’s a look at Soho:
We stayed in Mayfair. Here’s a shot of a side street.
We stayed near Marble Arch at the edge of Hyde Park.
Hyde park is a fully used green space. I enjoyed looking out my hotel window at people walking and jogging through the park while the double decker busses and cabs went by. The city was pulsing with people and unlike here, you rarely heard a siren.
My next post will be about what we did with the kids.