Basic Things to Know Before Travelling to London

Hello Lovely,

My summer trip to Europe was a real eye opener. Not only was I shocked to see reliable public transportation and committed dedication to recycling and reducing the use of plastic bags (this is not a norm for us in The Bahamas) but there were a few other things I learned as well. For some people these are no brainers. Some of them I was even pre-warned about, but others really took me by surprise. I'm sure I sound very uncultured and unexposed by admitting to these things, but I'm proud that I made the effort to learn about them first hand and not through the glossy pages of a magazine.

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The first thing that took me by surprise (but I won't include it in the list) was the lack of summer. My best friend that I was meeting said the weather was pretty hot so I packed warm weathered clothes. Boy was I in for a surprise. Apparently even if it is warm, it won't stay that way for long. Sure some days will get warm and even hot, but for the most part, you can enjoy a cool 60-70°F temperate. This was really nice for someone like me looking to escape sweltering heat. I just wish I had known it would've been like that so I could've packed warmer clothes. Luckily I had packed two sweaters for the plane so I was able to rotate between the two.

So if you're planning a trip to London, here are the 5 basic things you should know before making the journey.

1. You'll need adaptors to charge all of your electronics

Thank goodness I stayed with a friend. I was able to just use his adaptors. Between charging my cellphone, laptop and camera batteries, I needed constant access to a port. When we went to Amsterdam, we had to make an emergency dash to a local department store to buy an adaptor. And when we went to Switzerland, we had to make another emergency dash to an electronic store to buy more adaptors. I ended up with adaptors for three different countries amounting to over $30 (probably more with the conversation rate). So order your adaptors on Amazon before making the trek across the world.

2. American money is not accepted

I travelled with about $100 USD, and used some of it while in the airport in Canada. What I didn't know was my USD was completely useless in Europe. Luckily for me, there was a post office just around the corner from me that I was able to exchange my cash for. Just know that the US dollar is higher than the pound so when you exchange it, you'll actually get less. I exchanged $77 USD and got about 53£ and change.

3. Debit/credit cards with chips are ideal

I was lucky to be able to use my MasterCard while I waited for my money to be transferred to my Bank of America account, however, all point-of-sales require you to insert your card. While at least 95% of retail allows you to swipe your card, there were a few places like the Tube station and Lidl's that didn't allow me to swipe and only accepted card inserts with chip technology. So just keep that in mind.

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4. There's typically more daylight than nighttime

It may have been the time of the year that I went, but all of my friends agreed that there is generally more daylight than nighttime. Even though we barely saw the sun, we had daylight well up until 9 in the evening. And the sun was up again by 5 am. The first time I saw it, I thought I overslept and it was 9 in the morning, but when I checked the time I had at least 3 more hours of sleep. I thought this would've negatively affected my sleep cycle but it really didn't.

5. Make sure you have all the necessary visas

THIS IS THE BIGGIE! I connected through Canada and NO ONE told me I needed an ETA just to CONNECT through Canada. I found out at the airport as I was checking in for my flight. I was about to break down in tears fearing that I was about to miss all of my connecting flights and tours. Luckily, a Canadian ETA cost only $7 CAD and can be applied for and approved in exactly 10 minutes. I'm not kidding. It took only 10 minutes for me to fill out the application and be approved. I almost was denied access to Amsterdam for whatever reason but was fortunate that my best friend is a Dutch national so maybe that's what I saved me. To avoid the headaches I endured, research all of the visas and travel documents you'll need before buying your ticket.