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Travel Guide: London, England

For those of you planning an upcoming visit to London, I thought I’d go ahead and share some tips and tidbits that we learned before and after our travels to hopefully make your trip planning a breeze.

If there’s any other tips you might have as someone who has been to London or if there are any other things you’d like to see, please let me know!  I plan to do this for all of our trips from now on as it’s a nice way for us to share our journey as well as get a snapshot of our trip when we look back on these memories.

Our Itinerary (click link for blog post):
Day 1: Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, Albert Memorial Hall
Day 2: Big Ben, London Eye, Parliament Square, Westminster Abbey, St. James’ Park, Trafalgar’s Square, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London Film Museum, Piccadilly Circus
Day 3: Buckingham Palace, Harrod’s, Notting Hill
Day 4: Millennium Bridge, Tower Bridge, Borough Market, Diana Memorial Playground

Click here to see all of the places we ate in London and which ones we really recommend.

***Our best tip is to use the Google Maps app on your phone.  Plan in advance, and bookmark all of the locations that you want to see – you can even bookmark restaurants if you’ve been researching those too.  When you get to a landmark, check your Google Map to see what other places you’ve bookmarked that are in that vicinity.  We typically would cluster our stars visually and spend the entire day in one or two “clusters” so we don’t waste time bouncing around town.  With a tot in tow however, make sure to prioritize what you want to see/do in each area.  It’s likely you won’t get to do everything on your list, but at least you’ll hit the stuff that’s really important to you.

Where We Stayed: 
We stayed in Kensington which we researched as one of the most family-friendly areas.  It definitely was with small parks surrounding, Hyde Park and other small parks just minutes away, and close to the District Line.  We also stayed an an Airbnb which we would highly recommend (use this link for $30 off your first Airbnb booking!).

How We Got Around:
We utilized MinicabIt to find and pre-book our driver to pick us up from the airport to take us to our Airbnb as well as pick us up from the Airbnb and take us to the Eurostar station to Paris.  Very easy to find the best rates, and the driver was punctual both times.

During our stay, we mostly used the tube except for one instance where we took a double-decker bus to get to a station.  The public transportation system is very easy to navigate, and probably the cleanest public transportation system we’ve used.  We bought day passes each day which saved us around 40 pounds compared to if we bought the Oyster card, but it really depends on how many days you plan to stay and where you’d like to go. Plus, with Dominic, we really didn’t know how much we could expect to be out and about, so it seemed like the safer choice – to purchase day per day.  Children under 11 are free.  You can find more details here.

If you’re wondering, yes, Uber is available in the city.

Phrases to learn:
Subway = Tube
Exit = Way Out
Stroller = Pram/Buggy
Restroom = Toilet
Elevator = Lift
To-Go = Takeaway
Diaper = Nappy
Trash = Rubbish

Things to keep in mind:
– Dress nicely.  Everyone here is pretty well dressed, so if you decide to look like the typical American tourist (t-shirt, shorts, fanny pack, baseball cap), you WILL stand out and therefore be a more likely target for pick-pockets.
– Bring a jacket (preferably with a hood, if not bringing a separate umbrella) as the weather is very fickle.
– People were generally very nice.  Out of the 3 European cities we visited this vacation, they were the most generous when it came to offering their seat when public transportation was full since I had Dominic with me.

For the Parents:
Stroller or baby carrier?  We brought our baby carrier, but we didn’t use it once here.  However, you may find it helpful if you’re only going to see a few things or take the tube to go out to dinner then head back.  The stroller can be cumbersome to constantly close and open if you’re just heading out for short trips, but it made sense for us because we weren’t going to go back to our flat that often therefore Dominic could nap comfortably in it and the basket was helpful for holding extra things as we walked around. Also, the city is much older than cities in the States, so keep that in mind.  You will find several stops with no elevator (or even escalator) to go up/down to the tube, so if you and/or your significant other are not somewhat fit, be prepared to get exhausted fairly quickly.  Several stops required going up and down multiple flights of stairs while carrying either my son or the stroller.  I honestly don’t think we would have been able to see as much as we did if I hadn’t been working out.  The alternative would be to take buses (which will take longer to get you from point A to point B due to London traffic) or take taxis ($$$).

One Thing We Wish We Did:
There’s a ton of fun snacks at the markets, but I didn’t realize how fun it would’ve been to try a new one (or two!) a day until we started buying souvenirs.  Since most of the restaurants served food very familiar to us already, it would’ve been fun to do this to try some of London’s signature candies and cookies.  To name a few: Crunchies, Double Deckers, Jaffa Cakes, and the list goes on…

That’s pretty much it!  Again, if there’s any other tips you might have as someone who has been to London or if there are any other things you’d like to see, please let me know!

Happy travels!

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