Tips for Traveling in London for the First Time

Tips for Traveling in London for the First Time

If you are new to the world of business aviation and are anticipating your first trip to London, I have some personal experiences to share with you to help you manage expectations of traveling within London before your arrival. We all know that each flight is different, and if you have the freedom to arrange your own accommodations and explore the city a bit on your own, then this should be quite helpful. If you live in London or have been there before, be sure to add your pro tips in the comments to help newcomers be successful in their journey.

When arranging your accommodations, be sure to take into account that the city relies heavily on public transportation and so will you. If you are free to stay closer to the city than at the airport, get familiar with the layout and stops of the trains and underground “tube” system. You don’t want to find yourself near stops that only link easily to the rest of the system on select times of the week or holidays, or locations that would seem convenient but actually involve two hours of travel due to multiple changes. Try to stick to locations that have direct lines back to the airport, especially if your schedule is likely to change.

Although cars are operated on the left side of the street, when you are walking the passing still happens on the left side. If you are planning to stand while on an escalator or motorized walkway, be sure to stand on the right and allow room for people in a rush to get to work to pass by. Also, you will notice that people use the word “sorry” to mean “excuse me.” If you hear someone say “sorry,” that is their polite way of saying they would like to get by you.

Once you get into the inner ring of London, you should purchase an Oyster card and load it up with £20 or so to get started. You will then lay the card on the turnstile pad until it turns green in order to get to the platform. You do not need to remove it from the plastic wallet provided with the card in order for this to work. Additionally, when you are leaving the underground station, be sure to put your card on the station to show you are done with your journey. Otherwise, you could be penalized later on – I even witnessed someone getting a fine while on one of the underground trains.

If you feel like you are getting lost or confused, look for a worker (I frequently saw them near the turnstiles) to help you navigate. They are ready to help and quite friendly, as are mostly everyone you will come across. In addition, there are apps available to help with navigating the tube. You can also put the names of your beginning location and desired destination into a Google search and it will tell you the stations to change at.


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