Where in the World: Tips for traveling to London

by Sarah Welch

In preparing for a trip to London, there are many things to consider. If you are a novice traveler, it might be best to book a trip with a group on a bus tour. There are many tour companies to choose from with my favorite being Globus. It is a mid-priced tour company with bookings in first class hotels and well-trained guides.

You will need a passport with at least six months’ validity left on it and it is always good to leave an itinerary with family or coworkers in case of an emergency. Most flights are overnight so its best to take steps that will allow you to sleep a few hours on the plane, such as packing a neck pillow, ear plugs or headphones in your carry-on bag.

England is still using the British pound for currency, which can be dispensed from any ATM using your debit or credit card.

For sightseeing in London, various passes for transportation and/or sightseeing can be purchased in advance. There are currently discounts offered on the Oyster card, which can be used for bus and underground travel. A travel advisor can tell you the different options and order the passes for you. There are also many hop-on/hop-off tour buses running all over London.

The MUST SEE places in London:

-Buckingham Palace. Around the left side of the palace is the Queen’s Gallery, a museum and gift shop with items related to the British royalty.

-Tower of London. Take the tour led by a ‘Beefeater’ guide to learn about the history of the Tower and see the Crown Jewels.

-Tower Bridge. Crossing the River Thames are two towers connected by a crosswalk that offers a great view of the river and the London Eye.

-St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is where Prince Charles and Diana were married.

-Westminster Abbey. The location where coronation of kings and queens has taken place throughout centuries.

-Parliament and Big Ben. These are best seen from the bridge adjacent.

-Covent Garden. In the West End, near the theatre district. This is where Eliza Doolittle sold her flowers in “My Fair Lady.” There are shops, craft market and street entertainers in this area.

-London markets and pubs. Portobello Road, Petticoat Lane and Covent Garden Market offer street stalls with vegetables, antiques, flowers, clothing, jewelry, household items, etc. Pubs are great places to eat and socialize in London. The London Pub Guide is available at www.pubs.com. This is just a touch of London, a most fascinating city with so much to do and see. I highly recommend putting London on your bucket list.

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai.