If you are considering a maiden voyage to London or surrounding areas for either business or pleasure, here are some travel tips for London and the UK:
Travel Tip #1: Nyquil®.
First, try to get a direct flight. Many are available, and most are the same price or slightly more expensive (but worth it) than a flight with one or two stops. If you must have a layover due to your flight’s origination choose one that stops in the United States, if possible. Should you miss a connection or experience delays, you might be more comfortable dealing with the situation using words and language that is familiar to you. Finding another airline, booking a different flight, or finding a hotel will be a problem if you cannot communicate your questions, or understand the answers. Additionally, try booking the latest available flight. Six, Eight, or Ten P.M. are the best flights to minimize jet lag.
Once you have selected your direct flight (Heathrow is a good choice), buy a couple of Nyquil (or similar) gel tabs and put them in your smallest carry-on bag. As long as you do not have any allergies or medical reasons for avoiding this kind of over-the-counter medication, they are a convenient tool.
Once you have gone through airport security, take one gel tab. Take the least amount recommended. This will help to accomplish three things:
- It will help you sleep on the plane (more on that, next).
- It will calm cough and sneeze.
- It will relieve runny itchy nose, which can cut down on congestion and pressure near the ears.
Make it your goal to fall sleep as soon as you get on the plane (even before take-off) because this is your best chance to stay on track and avoid jet lag. It will also allow you to get the most of your first day, upon arrival. If your travel time is between five and ten hours and you make a commitment to fall asleep as soon as possible, you will get almost a full five to eight hours of sleep. Your will arrive at your gate in Heathrow close to 7 A.M., their time. You will have the whole day ahead of you!
Do a test-run with the Nyquil® at least a week before your trip. Take the lesser dose, and see how you react. If you are wobbly, scale back on the dosage. If you feel nothing, consider taking the recommended adult dose (if you are an adult, of course).
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Travel Tip #2 – Getting around London and the UK – Ground Transportation.
First, let us start with the real problem: your suitcase. There is a reason backpacks are so popular with international travelers: they do not require the use of the ground to be successful. Here is a good test to see if your bags will make the cut: Can you:
Walk up six flights of stairs, cross a dried up riverbed full of stones, walk across a sandy beach, and fit into a phone booth – WITH all of your luggage?
Think this is a dumb scenario?
- The Tube runs underground, and access to elevators can be limited, or non-existent. You are most likely four to six flights of stairs below street level (or more), and most of the people around you have no luggage and are moving quickly.
- Next, the riverbed of cobblestone streets will put even the finest travel gear to the test. “Gu-dunk gu-dunk gu-dunk gu-dunk gu-dunk” – that is the sound your wheels will make, straining under the weight of your heavy suitcase as you drag it down a cobblestone street.
- Sand: After the wheels fall off, you will drag your suitcase down the road, as if you were dragging a bag across a sandy beach.
- Phone booth: Things are smaller in the UK: bathrooms, waiting areas, bars, restaurants, have narrow doorways, halls, stairs, and quirky architectural elements. Without luggage, scrunching through a tiny doorway and sliding sideways down a hall to a restroom where your knees prevent the door from closing completely, is an adventure. Add in a 45-pound wheelie bag and a backpack, and you are in for a treat.
Why not take a taxi? You can take a taxi, but be prepared to pay a good amount.
- Hampstead Station has 320 steps taking travelers from the platform to street level*.
- Of the 270 Stations served, 12 use only escalators and 19 use only elevators (“lifts”)*
- The total number of lifts across all stations, is 167*
- Almost 60,000 people enter and exit the Waterloo Station during morning rush hour. Waterloo has 20 working platforms and served 94 million passengers between 2011-2012.*
Taxi Fares (85 pounds = $143 US Dollars)
Have happy and safe travels. Go light, and give your packed bags a test-run up and down some stairs before you leave.
Some train stations and hotels will hold your bags for you if you are between check-out and departure. Additionally, if you are there on business and have several appointments, you may be able to check/store your “big” suitcase at the airport or train station and take a small travel bag with you for an overnight stay.
Lastly, if you will be there for two weeks or more, consider packing one week’s worth of clothing, and taking them to a wash-dry-fold and have them laundered on the weekend.