London Travel Advice: The Keys To A Successful Trip
Cheap Flights, Ya Right!
Listen, just give up now. The days of finding a $400 round trip flight to London are over. So let's put this plain and simple: if you want to go to London, you'll just have commit to going for around $1000 from New York City (prices change based on location). Sure, the time of the year you go might impact this slightly or you might be able to find a last minute deal, but in the end if you see a flight for less than $900, grab it right away. Take a look at Kayak.com's monthly flex dates to see current price trends for your city.
As you can see from the chart below, if you are willing to fly on a weekday, there are still flights to grab for under $850. I would snatch those up in a heartbeat if they fit into the dates I could take a vacation.
New York City to London Airfare Comparison (Spring 2013)
Least Expensive Flight
Most Expensive Flight
"Hotel" Should Not Be In Your Vocabulary
Unless you want to stay out by the airport (trust me you don't), you are going to spend a minimum of $400-500/night on a decent London hotel. This is highway robbery considering all of the wonderful apartments for rent throughout the city. Start searching for the various websites that cater to tourist looking for apartment or house rentals. You could always start with a click on Tripadvisor's HomeAway site to start the process.
A hefty security deposit will be required, but it's worth it: your own lock and key, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, privacy, washer and dryer, wifi, the list goes on and on. Just be sure you look at a map before you book. Be sure your apartment is close to public transportation (more on that later), as well as restaurants, pubs, and grocery stores. There is a lot of savings to be had even if you just cook one or two meals in your apartment instead of dropping hundreds to go out to eat. Trust me, the food isn't very good anyway! But you knew that already.
Oysters and Tubes: All The Transportation One Needs
The city is your Oyster if you use the London Underground (i.e. The Tube). By far, this is one of the easiest subway systems to navigate in the World. Get yourself a subway map, buy an Oyster Card, put some money on it and go. Forget about taxi's, forget about buses. Everything a tourst needs in London can be accessed by the subway. Sure, a little walking will be required, but the main parts of the city are safe and very walking friendly. Plan a little extra time for a pint on the way!
One key piece of advice: buy an oyster card from an actual person at the booth in one of the major train or Underground stations. The self-service Oyster card machines are very confusing when you make a first time purchase.
Going to the Country
You'll Have To Pick And Choose
With so many sights and museums to choose from, you will really have to make some hard choices. Your personal interests and schedule will have to determine what "extras" you plan on seeing. But, the following "must sees" should not be missed, by anyone, ever:
Big Ben and Parliment
Changing of the Guard
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Oh Ya, The Weather
Despite how you go about it, a trip to London will be filled with history, beautiful architecture, and some pretty bad food. Of course, you have to tailor the trip to your needs and desires, but I hope this article gave you some ideas on how to make that process smoother and more enjoyable.
Oh ya, and it's true: pack for ALL kinds of weather. Seriously.