I’m a super organized, meticulous and particular person. So, before leaving for my trip to London, I made sure I had everything I needed to survive. I mean hey, I would be in another land where no one could actually rescue me. I’m only being sort of dramatic! I’ve been to Georgia by car and plane, Canada by car and Haiti by plane. But this London trip was a whole other ball field. I would be a l o n e.
With that being said, here are my top 5 travel tips I composed based on my London experience!
1. Passport – Remember you need a passport to travel abroad!
I didn’t have much time to plan for London so it didn’t click that I would need one! But duh.
I had a passport that expired a few years ago and I thought I was doomed. I almost gave up on going until my friend told me there was a way to get a passport the same day. So, that’s what I did! My good friend Malissa and I woke up at 4 in the morning to travel to Philadelphia’s Passport Agency. I already had my photo taken for my passport the day before and just had to develop the photo at the local Walgreens. I got my passport within 3 hours of being at the agency for $195.
2. Adapters/Outlets/Converters – Guys. Not everyone has the same outlets as us!
My friend woke up one morning and said my trip was her first thought on her mind. She told me I would need a converter in order to charge my iPhone and laptop! Thank GOD she told me because I would’ve been one beat lady. One beat emotional lady. One beat, emotionally lonely lady in Europe. Could you imagine not being able to contact loved ones from home?! Just the thought makes me shudder.
3. Money – Get your money right!
Obviously, Europe uses different currency than America so I went to my bank to exchange my USD (United States Dollars) to GBP (Great Britain Pounds). I mean, at least I thought I did.
When my cab got to my hotel the very first day, I shuffled through my bag, looking to pay my driver. As I held my palm out for him to take it, he looked down and said “We don’t accept those.” I could only imagine how my eyes looked. I finally knew what it meant for your stomach to drop. I felt tears welling in my eyes as I looked down at my money and asked, “What do you mean?” He responded with, “These are euros, hun. England uses pounds.”
I knew that. But all their money looked the same to me! I specifically told my bank I would be travelling to London. LONDON. LON-DON. They gave me the wrong currency. Blank face.
Thankfully, my hotel exchanged my money for me. I lost a lot of money, though. The American dollar means nothing compared to the British pound and Euros are next to nothing. Don’t believe me? Let’s just say for 100 EUROS, you get 78.55 pounds and with 100 American Dollars, you get $62.22. That’s not even including the rates of exchanging the money!
4. Do Your Research - Acquaint yourself with where you’ll be travelling to.
Since English is the primary language of England, I didn’t have to do much research. I just made sure I knew how their cabs looked like so I wouldn’t get in a fake one because of my ignorance! Yes, I take safe than sorry to a whole other level!
For those who are travelling where you are unfamiliar with the language, study the language! Thank God I only had to learn that the “lift” meant “elevator” and that they use “toilet” instead of “bath/restroom” haha. Simple stuff.
5. Communicate – How will you be contacting family and friends from back home?
Because I would only be staying in London for 3 days and 2 nights (and because I’m sorta kinda broke), I figured it wouldn’t be necessary to call my server and switch my plan to international. Instead, I downloaded an app where I could text and call anyone before I left the country.
I initially downloaded Voxophone but when I arrived to London, it decided to not work (Yes, I tested it out before I left)! Stressed and anxious, I immediately connected to wifi and hopped onto my laptop to let my family know I made it safe. I felt horrible that I had them waiting (it was 3 in the morning there). I searched for a good app but to no avail. Whatsapp is the most popular app but Talkatone is equally as good! I’m grateful my boyfriend found that one!
That’s it, adorners! Safe travels to any one of you going anywhere!
P.S: My London Vlog will be posted tomorrow!