So it is your first time visiting the capital city of Britain, but you do not want to stand out as a tourist. Avoid all the common mistakes that holidaymakers by following our tips on how to enjoy your London adventure.
Put the map away
Nothing screams ‘tourist’ more than standing there studying a map and trying to work out what way is north or south. Plan your route before leaving your hotel or discretely check out Google Maps on your smartphone rather than trying to grasp geographic in the middle of a busy London Underground station.
Consider downloading some local apps on your Android or Apple phone – there are plenty, including some great journey planners that detail what tube goes where and the right bus to catch.
Do your research
Of course you don’t want to plan your trip down to the last minute, but it does pay to have a bit of an idea before you start exploring. There are numerous places to visit in the capital and unless you are staying for a very long time, then you will not get to see everything.
Make a list of your must-dos and have a look how you could combine more than one in a day. Lots of London’s main attractions are often quite close to each other, with areas such as the Southbank and Exhibition Road home to many world-class venues and museums. If you have a rough idea where everything is, then you won’t have to look like a tourist and stop to ask for information from passer-bys.
Work out the currency
The UK has not adopted the euro and still makes use of the traditional sterling system. Relatively easy to grasp, there are 100 pence to a pound, with coins available in lots of dominations of two pound and under. Over than amount, then paper money is used for £5, £10, £20 and £50 denominations. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the different currency and remember some basic conversion rates so you can work out whether an item is a bargain or a rip-off.
Downsize your baggage
You do not want to be carrying all your belongings around all day. London is a large place and there is plenty to do and see, so you don’t want to be weighed down by extra luggage when travelling around. Pack a lightweight rucksack with the bare essentials and leave everything else back in your hotel room or safe. That way you can move around easily and you don’t bump in to everything and everyone.
Of course you want to take photos to remember your trip in the capital, but wearing your expensive state-of-the-art digital camera around your neck is only going to attract attention. You will stand out and may even attract the eye of potential thieves, therefore try to be a bit more discreet. Take photographs of all the great landmarks – just make sure your return your flashy camera to its bag in between sightseeing spots.
Sometimes holidays can be a bit fraught, with people trying to pack everything in and it becomes an almost military operation.
You don’t need to do everything on the tourist map and sometimes it is worth seeking out the spots away from the beaten path.
Remember to take some time to relax and maybe do a bit of people watching – after all the best way to avoid looking like a tourist is to blend in with the loca