Useful Travel Tips for Americans Visiting London

Americans and the British have a lot in common in many aspects of life, their cultures and other characteristics. However, despite the fact that they share a common language, though with different spellings and pronunciations, their cultures and protocols are not exactly the same, having many differences. Broadly, the British are basically sophisticated people with a lot of emphasis on proper dressing and a strict adherence to protocol whereas Americans have a more carefree attitude towards life which is reflected in their casual dressing and in other aspects of life. Most Americans like to visit London and when they come here for the first time, they find it difficult to digest their different attitude towards life. As such, a few tips are being offered for Americans travelling to London so that they can get oriented with the way that will ensure a good time in London for them.

Vehicles Drive on the Left of the Road: On their first visit, Americans will find it odd to see vehicles driving on the left hand side of the road, as in America they drive on the right hand side. As such, if they wish to drive in England, they will have to get used to this system and on two way streets, they should always look right. On one way streets, they should keep checking the pavements and always look both ways.

Travelling by Tube: The most popular and widely used system of movement from one place to another in London is the Tube, as it is the quickest and the most convenient mode of travel. It will be helpful to a visitor if he studies the Tube map before going out as he can plan his journey properly. Moreover, the protocol of using the escalators of the Tube stations demands that you should always stand on the right side of the moving escalator so that the left side is kept clear for people who wish to move fast and catch a train. A useful suggestion is to buy an Oyster card as it will appreciably reduce your Tube fares. In some cases, these cards prove to be much cheaper than 1 day or 3 day tourist travelcards. Since some stations are quite close to one another, it is futile to take a Tube for moving between them.

Choose the Attractions You Wish to Visit: London has so many attractions that even a whole month in the city may not be sufficient to see them. As such, you should do some online research beforehand and choose the attractions that interest you most and then concentrate on seeing them. Some attractions can easily be omitted such as the London Aquarium, if you are not interested in fish; Changing of the Guard as it gets so crowded that you can hardly see anything from a distance; Piccadilly Circus as it is very busy and dangerous; Portobello Road Market which is jam-packed with tourists and HMS Belfast as it is old and rusty.

Attractions That You Should See: On the other hand there are a few attractions that you must see such as St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Covent Garden, London Transport Museum and Camden Lock Market.

Choose a Proper Place to Stay: Since most attractions of London are concentrated in and around central London, it will be convenient for you to stay in these areas as you will be able to commute to your places of interest easily, without wasting time, energy or money. Your best bet would be to stay at Montcalm Hotel Marble Arch London as it is located in the heart of the city, close to most attractions and it offers luxurious accommodation with the best of facilities.

Using a Cab in London: To make sure that a taxi is available, look for the light on top of the can which will be on if it can be hired. It is necessary to stand in a queue at any busy airport or railway station for getting a cab. Londoners respect the queue system and ensure that they are meticulously orderly. It is important to wait for your turn patiently. When you get the cab, you should go to the front window and find out whether the driver will take you to your destination. You should also be prepared to chat with the driver as most London cab drivers enjoy chatting on the way. Black Cab drivers are licensed and trustworthy but mini cab drivers are not licensed and hence not very trustworthy.

24-Hour Time: Train timings in London are according to the 24 hour clock. It is easy to understand the system as you just have to subtract 12 from whatever the 24 hour time shows. Thus 23.00 hours is 11:00pm.

Do Not Criticise Poor Customer Service: Even if you are not satisfied with the customer service level at restaurants and railroads, you are not expected to criticise the service provider, as Londoners are far too sophisticated to do so.

Check for Bed Bugs: It is best to check for bed bugs in the mattresses of your bed in the hotel room and if you find any, you should inform the hotel and move your bags away.

Always Travel Light: Take only essential items with you and travel light, not only because of flight restrictions but also because London hotel rooms are small. Always carry an umbrella or waterproof jacket and other clothes according to the weather.

How to Reach Your Hotel from the Airport: You can use taxi, Tube, Overhead Rail or bus for reaching your hotel from the airport. The cheapest option is to take the Piccadilly Tube line directly into London from Heathrow Airport. Heathrow Express is the fastest option taking 15 minutes from Heathrow Airport to Paddington station. Taxis are most comfortable but the most expensive option.

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