London, England Destination Guide
Know before you go
- London, like the rest of England, is on the British pound (£). If you are exchanging currency, make note of the exchange rate. The £ is generally worth more than many other countries currency and things will cost much more than you used to once you convert it to your home currency.
- ATMs are plentiful. You can easily grab cash while there instead of paying exchange fees at the airport
- Look right before crossing the street.
- Drivers drive on the left side of the road.
- Tipping is not necessary at restaurants. Service is usually included in your bill.
- The natives speak English. You don’t have to shout at anyone so they understand you.
Useful London Lingo
- Pants = underwear
- Trousers = pants
- Trainers = sneakers
- The Lift = an elevator
- The Tube = the subway system
- Subway = underground walkway
- Return ticket = round trip
- Lorry = Truck
- Petrol = gas
- Pram = stroller
- Football = soccer
- Queue = to line up
- Quid = a British pound (£)
- Bin = trash can
- Telly= TV
- Loo = toilet
- Plaster = bandaid
- Light layers. Depending on when you travel, it can be chilly in the morning, pleasant in the afternoon, and back to jacket weather in the evening.
- Comfy, but cute shoes. London is a fashion mecca. Don’t be caught in your white trainers. Grab a comfy pair of boots, or European style sneaker to blend into the crowd.
- Rain gear. A must, especially if you are traveling on the off season.
- Umbrellas. If you can squeeze one into your bag it will save you from having to buy one there.
- Converters and adapters. U.S. electronics will not work in the UK without an adapter. Depending on your electonic’s wattage, you may also need a converter to make sure you don’t blow up your precious hair dryer.
- Baby food and diapers. These are plentiful in the city and throughout the country. Just buy when you arrive, but pack enough to get you through the first day or two so you don’t have to rush out immediately to the store.
- Rick Steves’ England
- Let’s Go London
- Frommer’s Best Day Trips from London
- Rentals. Looking at a short-term rental when traveling with kids in a major city makes the most sense for our family. You can find economical options on sites like VRBO.com and Homeaway.com that will give you a kitchen, living space, and 1 or more bedrooms, often for the same price as a small hotel room.
- HostelBookers. You may think you are too old or the kids aren’t ready for a hostel yet, but Hostelbookers.com lists several great options that are family friendly and gentle on your wallet. They even offer private rooms as opposed to the dorm style you might have been used to in your college days.
- Lodging lingo
- Self- catering = accomodations with a kitchen
- Let = to rent
- Way out = exit
- Black Cabs. If you have a ton of bags, and more kids than you can carry, a cab might be the best option to at least get you to and from the airport. Car seats are not required in the cabs, so be forewarned if you are thinking they will have them. You can call a cab company and ask them if they have a special van or vehicle they can send for you with car seats though. If you bring your own, make sure the cab driver knows you will need to install them when you ask him to take you where you want to go.
- If you need a taxi after the train, make sure you go to a taxi stand at the train station. If you are on the street you can just hail a cab anywhere.
- London Tube. The tube is my favorite way to get around the city. Unless there are major closings, it is fast, reliable, and so much easier than taking a cab. You won’t have to deal with the traffic, just the morning and evening rush if you travel during those times. Passengers are fairly responsive to those carrying kids and will attempt to give you their seat when possible. Pick up your kids during rush hour if you are forced to stand so they aren’t pushed around in the crush. Read more in Riding the London Tube with Babies and Toddlers.
- Red double-decker buses. Another favorite way to get around is the city buses. Head to the top if you know you will be on for more than a few stops. Try to get in the front so you and your kids can get a great view of the city as you drive through town. Be very careful when you are getting down from the top deck though. It is very easy to stumble and fall down the steps. If you can walk down a stop or two before your intended departure that is ideal so you won’t be stuck on board when you arrive at your destination.
- Oyster Card or Travel Card.
- Oyster Card. If you plan on spending a day or more touring London than the Oyster Card is probably your best bet. It works on the buses, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and National Rail (excludes airports and other stations). You will save quite a bit per ride, plus your Oyster card won’t expire. Ours worked after 5 years of not using it.
- Travelcard. The travel card works only in the central zone on the same public transportation network as the Oyster card. You can only buy a 1 day card, or a 7 day card, and can not get you to the outskirts of town. Unless you plan on traveling every day of your 7 day travel card (must be used consecutively) then you should get an Oyster Card.
Pubs and pizza, thai, sushi, and curry are all of the global cuisines you will find in the thriving metropolis of London. No longer are you relegated to fish n’ chips. If you can think of it you can find it. Here are a few of our kid and parent-friendly favs.
- Pizza Express (Various locations)- decent pizza at cheap prices
- Ask Italian (Various locations)- local chain with healthy kid options and a nice atmosphere that is very family friendly
- Wagamama (Charing Cross/ Victoria Station),1 Tavistock St, London
- The Shakespeare’s Head (Carnaby), 29 Gt. Marlborough Street, London, W1
- Brick Lane, an entire street of amazing food. Hope you like curry!
- Pub Chain William Morris has pretty good and very affordable meals (recommended by FiteInertia.com)
- Grab some takeaway from Mark & Spencers for picnics and in room dining (recommended by FiteInertia.com)
- Food Lingo
- Pasty = crusted savory pie (FYI- pies are generally filed with meat, not sweet)
- Pudding = dessert in general
- Biscuits = cookies
Things to do with kids
Museums, parks, walks, and castles are just a few of the exciting things you will find in my Things to do in London with Babies and Toddlers guide.
Posts to Inspire You
Riding the London Tube with babies and toddlers: four tips to get you ready for your first ride on the London Underground, more fondly known as the Tube, when traveling with your kids.
Mind the Step: A fun photo reminder that when it comes to getting on English trains, you always need to keep an eye on your feet.
What to do in London with kids: An easy overview of everything you have to look forward to when you plan your own escape to England’s capital city.
Overnight fun in London for families: Lela from HostelBookers.com brings us through a 24-hour itinerary that is sure to win your family over in no time.