Last minute travel preparation tips for an American’s first trip abroad in London?

pitchmd asked:

I called my bank/credit cards to let them know I would be out of the country, got my passport and plane tickets, booked my tours / hotel / transportation to and from the airport, got my rail card in advance for the tube/busses, and packed enough clothing for any type of weather I may encounter. Aside from the basics, would anyone have any other last minute tips to help me prepare for my first trip outside of the U.S.? Any absolute essentials as far as what to do or what to bring (especially that which cannot be purchased in London)?

I leave in 2 days, so any last-minute advice would be greatly appreciated!

6 thoughts on “Last minute travel preparation tips for an American’s first trip abroad in London?”

  1. Watch out for buses and cars. I’m serious. You dont think about it, because looking left and then right comes so instinctively to non-British people, but when i went to London for the first time, that was the hardest part– remembering to look the other way before crossing the street (and therefore avoid being hit by traffic). It sounds like a little thing, but it really got on my nerves!!

  2. Remember to pack an adapter if you plan on bringing any electrical appliances!! You cant plug American appliances into European plugs. Also, if you want a good travel book, go for the LETS GO series, its great. AND I agree with the answer above, watch out for traffic. You’d be surprised how often you look the wrong way before crossing the street

  3. seeing that you have even gotten your railcards ready, i’d say you’re definitely fine. bring a travel adapter if need be (we use three pin power plug here). temperature is getting warmer as the winter is turning to spring so one or two thick coats should be fine. you probably won’t need it much though. you could get a guidebook on london to familiarise yourself with the place and the attractions. tipping is expected to be 10 percent in restaurants and taxis (beware of illegal taxis). relax and enjoy your first trip abroad!

  4. Relax! Just say you’re Canadian! No, no- I’m kidding! Try and submerse yourself as much as possible- nowadays anything you could possibly miss can be found- american candy, food, magazines, newspapers, etc. But please, PLEASE try something new while you’re there. If you’re feeling REALLY brave- try Marmite. Have a great trip!!!

  5. So it is your first trip outside USA?

    1) Don’t expect everything to be the same as ‘back home’. It is not. That is the just way it is, accept it. Try to enjoy it as a different experience, after all you’ll be back home soon enough.

    2) London is very cosmopolitan, it is a big busy city with all that entails. It dosn’t have a grid system of streets, they twist and turn and it is very easy to get lost. (but thats a fun thing to do if you are not in a hurry).
    If you have a PC and you know where you are going, get the postcode and use or and that will pinpoint your destination on a printable map.

    Almost everywhere in London is close to a tube (underground railway) station. Glad you’ve already got your ticket – its the best way to get around.

    3) You are likely to meet very few English people. Most people that interact with tourists are foreigners, such as hotel workers, waiters etc.

    4) Don’t expect table service in pubs — go to the bar and order, collect and pay for your drink there. For goodness sake, don’t tip. English beer is served at room temperature. If you want a cold American style beer ask for ‘lager’.

    5) Get a card from the hotel with its name address and phone on it in case you get lost or want to get a taxi back. It is not enough to say ‘Holiday Inn’ etc because there are loads of them.

    6) London is about 30 miles in diameter, the City of London is the financial area of about 1 square mile in the centre and has its own mayor police force.

    7) Don’t ask for ‘downtown’. There isn’t any such thing -see 6. If you want shops ask for a shopping area, theatres for the theatre district etc

    8) Talking of theatres, you can get half price tickets for that nights shows in the theatre owners booth in Leicester Square – it stands in its own and is marked TKTS (there are a lot of dodgy hole in the wall outlets nearby that all call themselves ‘official’.

    9)If you do not have a 4 digit PIN for your credit/bank cards you may have problems using ATMs.

    Also be aware that from 14 February UK moves to a ‘chip pin’ system instead of signing for purchases. UK cards now have a chip in them. A foreigner whose card does not have a chip will be allowed to sign, but there may be some shopkeepers who are a little confused at first.

    From the Chip Pin leaflet

    But if you are one of the few people who has not yet got a chip and PIN card, or if some of your cards have yet to be
    upgraded, don’t worry. Customers with old-style cards will still be able to sign when using them. The same is true for
    visitors to the UK from countries that have yet to upgrade to chip and PIN.

    Might be worth printing it and carrying it with you, just in case. Link below

    10) Err – thats it for now.

    Have fun, we’ll understand you better than you understand us as about 90% of our TV and 99% of movies are American.

    PS – fer crying out loud, don’t tip everything that moves. Restaurants 10% of total (already includes 17.5% tax( unless service charge has already been added in which you’ve already tipped, pay no more). Taxis, 10% up to nearest 50p. Think 10% – you’re not in Kansas now.

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