Planning a Trip to London - 5 Easy Steps to get you started.
Updated: Jul 31, 2019
Planning a trip, especially to another country, can be a daunting task. After many years working in education, my travel days were governed by the school calendar. We became reliant on tours to eliminate the hassle of planning and searched the web for ones that fit our schedule. Of course, our dates fell in all of the “high” times, so things tended to be very expensive. Now that I am retired, we are no longer bound by these time constraints and planning our first post-retirement travel on our own began. Here are 5 easy steps …
1. Use Pinterest: We decided that our first destination would be London. All I had to do was enter the word London in the search bar, and you know what happened next. My board has 43 pins; itineraries, what to pack, where to eat and shop, attractions that can’t be missed, using the Tube, using a London Pass and the list goes on.
2. Decide on when to travel: We decided to travel in the late spring and searched our airlines for the best rates. We are leaving the US on a Sunday and flying back on a Monday. The rates were a third of what we purchased in the past. This would give us 6 full days of sightseeing.
3. Find a place to stay: There are many options for staying in London; You can stay in an upscale hotel, a hostel, or rent a flat. We decided to rent a flat and spent a few days searching AirBnB and VRBO. We chose a lovely one-bedroom flat in Rotherhithe; the flat is just a 2 minute walk to Canada Water Tube Station and an 8 minute ride to Westminster Abbey.
4. Plan the Itinerary: I bought a copy of Rick Steves Pocket London and started with his lists of “Don’t miss” and “Try hard to see” attractions. I also bought a London & Southeast England map sold by International Travel Maps. Using Pinterest itineraries and Rick Steves’ suggestions, we divided our attractions into locations. Check out my 6-day Itinerary here.
5. Buy a London Pass and an Oyster card (for Tube transport) ahead of time: Most of the attractions we wanted to see are included with the London Pass, so it was worth it for us to purchase the pass. We also added an Oyster Card for each of us and loaded each with £40. More about this useful card here. These arrived in less than 10 days and once purchased allows you to receive alerts and updates. I just received an update on the days/times that Westminster Abbey will be closed to the public for the Spring. The included London Pass guide book also gives detailed information regarding all attractions with phone numbers, hours of operation, handicapped accessibility, street addresses and detailed descriptions. Find out if The London Pass is for you here.