Traveling to London for the First Time

So I just traveled to London for the first time. It was actually my first International flight and first time using my passport (woooo)!

Considering the differences in money, timezones, and culture I took a lot of notes to share with you. 

 

Part One: Preparing & Planning

Everything You Should Do Before Traveling To London

1. Calculate timezone differences and start adjusting your sleep schedule accordingly.

We did this to minimize jet lag and make the most of our trip. For example, there is a 5 hour difference between Louisville, KY and London, so we did the following over the course of 6 days: 

  • Thursday May 24 - we went to bed at 11pm
  • Friday May 25 -  we woke up at 6:45am, we went to bed at 11pm    
  • Saturday May 26 - woke up at 6:30am, Went to bed at 10:30
  • Sunday May 27 - Woke up at 6am, went to bed at 10pm
  • Monday May 28 - woke up at 4:45am, went to bed at 6pm
  • Tuesday May 29  - woke up at 3:30am, left for the airport around 1pm, flew from Lou -> Phil 3:25pm, Phil -> Heathrow 7:30pm-7:30am (7.5 hr flight)
  • We arrived in London on May 30 at 7:30am *which is 2:30am EST

It still took a day or two to feel completely normal but I do think the timeshiftimg helped a lot! 

I downloaded the Chronoshift app to calculate everything. Basically, you enter your current wake up time (7:45am) and bed time (11pm), orgin city, destination city and it will tell you when to start limiting light exposure, go to bed, and wake up. *We clearly didn't do the shift to a T, but hey...what do you expect for me? ;)

2. Buy Necessary Travel Supplies

  • Universal adaptor for plugging in devices
  • Rain jacket (although I didn't need it after all)
  • Snacks for the plane (nuts, larabars, epic bars - just make sure you eat all of your snacks before customs. They don't want you bringing meat into the UK, LOL)
  • Green pill supplements
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tea
  • Headphone splitter for joint movie watching <3 

3. Make sure you check off everything on your "International Travel" To-do List, like:

  • Notify bank(s) that you're traveling Internationally
  • Add International plan to cell phone
  • Currency exchange

4. Get familiar with the Tube system if you will be using public transit

The Tube System is very efficient, cost effective, and clean (much much cleaner than NYC). I say use it and explore the city underground : ) We got 7-day travel Oyster Cards, but please note that you can't always use your Oyster card to go on long distance trips. Oyster card = "metro card" We took the train down to Brighton (about 1 hour) and got dinged for trying to travel on our Oysters. Apparently that trip requires additional train tickets. Overall, do you research. If you don't know, but ask someone at a Tube station. The workers are very nice and helpful : ) 

 

Part Two: Food & Parks

Where to eat and go in London 

We are officially calling this part, "How to lose 800 Pounds in 7 day" (although once we returned we spent much more than we planned, LOL. I guess you can say we "lost" a lot of pounds on the trip, haha!)

Restaurants we went to:

Coffee Shops *Note: if you just order "coffee" they are going to ask you what kind: espresso, cortado, cappuccino, americano. We rarely saw standard drip coffee like you do in the US. 

  • Remon
  • Caffe Nero
  • Over Under Coffee (really cool, hip spot! + delicious espresso and avocado toast)
  • Plant Shop (a coffee shop that also sold plants in Brighton)
  • Joe & The Juice

Parks

  • Hampstead Heath - this park is GORGEOUS and huge. There are gardens, random mansions, bathing ponds (LOL!), a zoo, woods, and who knows what else. 
  • Regents Park
  • Hyde Park

Sights & Touristy Stuff

  • Westminster Abbey - do it! It's so old and holds tons of history. There really aren't words to describe its beauty. P.s. you can't take pictures inside. 
  • Freud Museum 
  • Royal Pavilion (in Brighton) 
  • Brighton Pier 
  • Buckingham Palace
  • River Thames, view of London Eye, Big Ben, etc. 

 

Part Three: Local Lingo

English Words & Phrases to know when traveling to London

  • Lift = elevator / escalator 
  • Biscuit = cookie 
  • ind the Gap -> literally means there's a gap between the Tube and concrete platform
  • Sunlounger = sun chair
  • Everyone says sorry - just because
  • Give way = yield
  • Way out / up = exit
  • Loo, lavatory, WC, toilet = bathroom
  • You'll hear "Very good" a lot
  • Ice lollies = popsicles
  • Pavement = side walk (which makes no sense to me. The road is just the road)
  • Telephone box (not booth)
  • Household rubbish bin (not trash can)
  • Take away = take out (at a restaurant / coffee shop) - You'll be asked "for here or take away?"
  • Fire brigade station
  • Royal mail is their version of USPS and their little red trucks are so cute
  • Push chair = stroller
  • Humps = speed bumps
  • Sodie pops = soda pop (LOL)
  • Sprogs = children
  • Car park = parking garage
  • Garage = mechanic
  • Tits on the table = like..... be honest, LOL!
  • Pants = Men's boxers
  • Trousers = Men's pants
  • Trainers = tennis shoes
  • Fanny = vagina (You will be looked at funny if you say Fannypack! bumbag = fannypack)
  • Girlmates = girlfriends, duh! how cute?
  • Twat = idiot
  • Ready, steady, go! As opposed to Ready set go ;)
  • Bank notes = cash
  • A good knees up = a good time
  • What’s on  = whats showing / happening
  • Tipples = small cocktails LOL like sipping a small glass of sherry (Bigger than a shot, smaller than a cocktail)
  • Kneck it = To take a shot / take it back quickly (kind of like "Chug it!" over here)
  • Queuing = standing in line
  • Let = rent
  • Sun cream = sun screen
  • Crossing (also sometimes called a pelican crossing) = crosswalk
  • Buck’s Fizz = mimosa
  • Propping = to literally lean against the outside of the pub or bar and drink your pint with your mates

Scale of Drunkness

  1. Tipsy
  2. Squiffy = more than tipsy less than drunk
  3. Pissed
  4. Wankered / twated
  5. Shitfaced

 

 

 

Other random things we didn't know: 

  • If you are an avid Handmaids Tale viewer, via Hulu, take note that Hulu does not work in London. It's a US-only service. Who knew? 
  • Air Conditioning is not common (locals say Air Con). Some places may feel stuffy on a warm day. 
  • People just lay out in their bikinis at the park 
  • Proper English beer (pint) = room temp and kind of flat 
  • TJ Maxx is called TK Maxx over there
  • Cigarette packs say QUIT NOW on them, which is pretty cool. 
  • I didn't see any window screens in the windows
  • Baby on board pins for pregnant women taking the tube. This is in hopes that someone might give you their seat if the tube is packed
  • Apparently there is a congestion charge for driving in London (we didn't drive ourselves though). Uber works there ;)
  • You have to ask for your check at the restaurant when you're ready to pay
  • You also have to close your menu so they know you’re ready to order
  • And... cheese boards are typically ordered and eaten after dessert, not as an appetizer. 

Have you been to London before? What are the places you really enjoyed? Did you notice cultural differences like the above? Share in the comments below : ) 

 

-H