Guest post by John D
London is undoubtedly one of the most famous places in the world. This vibrant city has so much to offer in terms of stunning architecture, its immersive history, mouth-watering food, show stopping entertainment, vibrant atmosphere, and even the odd celebrity browsing the supermarket aisles (well, the expensive supermarkets, at least).
With so much going on day and night, it’s easy to see why visiting London is a Bucket List item for most people. But time and again, eager visitors end up making seemingly basic mistakes that affect their trip in various ways. From accommodation choice, transport decisions, etiquette, not utilising a VPN in the UK, and more.
Let’s take a look at the 5 top mistakes to avoid when visiting London for the first time so you can be fully prepared and have an excitingly memorable but smooth trip!
London is divided into 6 transport zones, with zone 1 being in the centre and each subsequent zone getting further away. Since the majority of attractions and general London bustle are in zones 1 and 2, most people book their accommodation in these areas. Unsurprisingly, these zones, especially zone 1, are incredibly expensive.
However, since the underground network and bus routes are so affordable, frequent, and convenient, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be staying in a cheaper zone and catch the tube or bus into the centre each day. With the price difference between zones being so noticeable, you’ll save a huge amount of money by choosing to stay further afield.
2. Over Tipping
Don’t feel obligated to tip your server anytime you go out to eat, no matter how fancy the restaurant is or how good the service was. Tipping is not yet part of U.K culture, so you can save your pennies and put the money towards a replica toy London bus instead.
However, watch out because some places will add a gratuity onto the bill without your consent but feel free to tell them to remove it. You will not be judged for doing so.
3. Travelling During Rush Hour
Nearly nine million people are living in London, with the majority working in the centre. That’s a whole lot of morning traffic. Avoid the tube and buses during rush hour, which is between 07:30 and 09:30 in the morning and 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening – London Pass. Instead, camp out at a local café, dive into a freshly made scone and a hot cup of English tea and relax while everyone else swarms along the pavements.
4. Not Using a VPN
On average, one person’s data is hacked every 39 seconds. That adds up to an extraordinary amount of data breaches each year, with pretty much everyone at risk. In the time it takes you to snap a quick pic of Buckingham Palace, your bank account can be hacked and drained. Your passwords can be copied. Or your identity is stolen.
It’s a scary thought, but it’s an unfortunate reality of today’s online world. When travelling, you can sometimes be even more at risk as you use various public Wi-Fi connections frequently while you plan your day, research the next attraction, or consult Google Maps in a ton of different coffee shops. Be sure to set up a VPN in the UK so you can keep your data extra safe during your travels and have one less thing to worry about.
5. Only Exploring the Centre
Piccadilly Circus is immersive, Covent Garden is bustling, Big Ben is pretty impressive, and Oxford Street is stylish. But there is so much more to London than the big attractions in the centre. We’re not saying you shouldn’t see these places, you absolutely should! But don’t forget to include the outer areas such as the gorgeous Greenwich Village, fancy Richmond Park, and historical Parliament Hill. London is a big place with a vast amount of beauty that is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the London Eye, sprawling out in all directions and yours for the taking.
London is a must-see city. It has an extraordinary amount for you to do, see, learn, and eat, and with our quick guide, there’s no need for you to make any of the easily avoidable mistakes during your first visit!