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Carless in London – 8 Tips on How to See the Sights and Not Go Broke!

April 20th, 2011 · 2 Brilliant Opinions · International Travel, Travel Tips

Even though Big P grew up in London and is familiar with the roads and traffic laws, we opted to spend our time in London without a car.  In order to save on our accommodations, we are staying outside central London.  We ended up with a spacious, lovely flat in Woolwich but had to be super organized with our commuting to get where we wanted to go and stay on budget.  I have not been to London in over 10 years and boy, transportation wise a lot has changed.  Here’s what I learned and a few tips to make your next stay in London easier and cheaper.

1.  The Underground or tube is the London Subway.  If you are traveling with a stroller, try to avoid rush hours 7:30-9:30 am and 5:30-7:30 pm. Children under 11 can travel for free with an adult.  There are also discounted fares for children up to age 16.  If your child looks older than 11 (like my height gifted little ones) or are over the age of 12, an age identification photo card (available at tube stations) is required to get applicable discounts for this age group.

The Underground

2.  The DLR (Docklands Light Railway) is an overground monorail which services East London.  Since opening in 1987 it has extended to Bank, Beckton, Lewisham, London City Airport and Woolwich Arsenal. Children pay a reduced fare.

3.  The Bus is a slow (but inexpensive) form of transportation in London due to congestion but kids love the double decker and can ride for free if they are under the age of 11 with an adult.

London Double Decker Bus

4.  Taxicabs are plentiful, reliable but expensive in London. If you are staying at a major hotel or at a major rail station, taxis are readily available.

5.  Thames Clippers – high-speed ferry service to venues like Tower Bridge, London Eye, London Bridge, the O2 arena to name a few.     There is  a special Daily Roamer fare that allows families to ride the Clippers all day at a reduced rate.  I recommend downloading their free iphone/ipad app for schedule information.

6.  British (National) Rail – useful for journeys out to the suburbs of London.

7.  Walk, Walk, Walk – Europeans are walkers. We planned our sightseeing so we could group several attractions together. If you’re going to see Big Ben you can walk to Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery and St. Martin in the Fields Church.

7. Get the Oyster Card. The Oyster card is a pay as you go smart card that allows travelers to pay for trips on the bus, tube, DLR, National Rail and Thames Clippers. Oyster fares are usually cheaper (at least 10%) than paying cash.  Oyster Tip – you must “touch in” on the yellow card reader at the start of your trip and “touch out” at the end – when traveling on the tube, DLR, London Overground or National Rail in order for Oyster to calculate the lowest fare. (This is not required on bus trips.)  If you don’t do this Oyster will charge you the maximum fare.   I would highly recommend reading the booklet “Getting Around With Oyster” available in London tube stations, online or by calling 0843 222 1234.

8.  With London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games, the transportation business is ever-changing. Ask about discounts and specials before boarding or purchasing your tickets.

If you’ve been to London recently and have some transportation tips or advice, please share in the comments section. Sharing is caring!


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