Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > Moving to London - general travels tips please!!
Notices

Moving to London - general travels tips please!!

Reply

Oct 31st, 2012, 12:07 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 45
Moving to London - general travels tips please!!

Hi all! We just found out my husband has gotten a job in London! We are very excited. We lived in Japan for three years with the military when we were first married, but this will not be a military move and our travel since then has been stateside. Our intention is to travel as much as possible for the time we are there (3 to 5 years). Do you have any general travel tips for me or must see places while we are there?

The travel guides I have purchased so far are:

London Spiral Guide
Great Britain Insight Guide
Discover Europe Lonely Planet
Eyewitness Travel Family Guide London

We have three boys (11, 8 & 5). I do love a good art museum, but the rest probably would only tolerate it to make me happy I have been digging on some expat forums, but I would love to hear what seasoned travelers would recommend!! I appreciate any help or recommendations!!
Natalie2b is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 12:38 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,334
Your guides should be able to provide you with a ton of suggestions and you can ask the board to narrow them down from there. You're asking about must see places in a country of 70M+ people that has been the most influential nation in world history so your request needs to be pared down a bit.

London will be a huge playground for the boys. And here is a good day out with the hobbits: http://www.bekonscot.co.uk/.

You're going to be within easy reach of all of London and all of south-east England, so the day trip possibilities are extensive.

Go to Londontown.com and check out the whole website. It has a ton of suggestions for visitors and listings for what is happening in the city.

Ultimately, you're probably going to have to work hard to be bored.
BigRuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 12:43 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,923
Have a look at http://ukfrey.blogspot.co.uk - a US family visiting more of this country than certainly I've managed.

With a bit of research you'll be deluged with possibilities for trips out. Any good bookshop in London will have plenty of books for country walks you can reach by public transport from London.

For the youngsters:
Castles (http://www.castlexplorer.co.uk/)?
Steam railways (http://www.heritage-railways.com/map.php) or industrial steam engines (http://www.kbsm.org/)?

Or you could go South Kensington and let them explore the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum while you enjoy the Victoria and Albert.

And then there are plenty of options for quick hops to the continent, if you shop around.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 12:56 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 1,280
<>

If you've only driven an automatic, learn to drive a manual car, which will open up travel options
sofarsogood is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 12:59 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,923
Here's another suggestion: get your boys working on www.tfl.gov.uk to find out how to get about in London (and www.nationalrail.co.uk for suburban and long distance trains), likewise www.daysoutguide.co.uk
PatrickLondon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 01:24 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,334
<>

What does that mean? Last check, manual and automatic transmission car models didn't exactly have different dimensions based upon the trim model and the type of transmission.
BigRuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 01:38 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 1,280
BigRuss - it means if the OP has only driven an automatic, she won't be able to drive a manual in the UK, which are far more common - nothing to do with size or trim???
sofarsogood is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 01:59 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 45
I can drive a stick, but I am much more comfortable with an automatic. I imagine if we buy a car I will learn to be more proficient quickly (hills make me nervous ). My husband is very good with either - so no worries there.

Sorry - i realize it is a bit of a general question. What i am hoping for is either tips on hidden gems that I won't pick up on in guides. The steam trains look great, as does the Bekonscot, which i hadn't seen in any guides yet! So - perfect! Other places in Europe that wouldn't be necessarily expected would be nice to hear about. I am sure we will make it to Paris, Venice, Rome... But we aren't fond of huge crowds so we would love some off the beaten path type things or even best times to go to... I haven't had a chance to read through all of the guides and as you pointed out I am sure they will give me lots of info.

My great-grandfather was Austrian. He was born & raised in Beckersdorf, which from what I can tell is now in the Ukraine. So that will be interesting to track down.

I have also read on here things like don't leave your phone on the table in front of you in a coffee shop type things. With moving coming up quickly I am not sure how far back I can read on the forums just yet. But I am gleaning some great info from the trip reports! I appreciate any info!!
Natalie2b is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 02:08 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,839
I would suggest you look out the RoughGuide series. Filled with information and history they could be described as awesome. It may help to think of Northern France to be pretty close (with a direct line into Paris so close). Beyond that it is worth understanding the cheepo airlines Ryanair, easyjet, jet2.com which fly out of many of London's 5 airports.

Off the beaten track in the UK. Look out for Dorset, Devon, Yorkshire. All countryside and easy to get away from the pressure of London.
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 02:11 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,052
"Do you have any general travel tips for me or must see places while we are there? "

What do you mean?

In London? In Britain? Within a five hour train ride or a two hour flight (effectively the same thing, and both at the extreme of a "there and back in a day" trip)? Within a day's journey?

The crucial metrics are:
- how much potential travel time you've actually got
- how much of that time you want to waste on travel and how much on living a real life
- the real elapsed time of journeys. The crucial fact you need to bear in mind is time taken to get from your house or flat to the relevant railway station, airport or start of a motorway. It's not at all unusual, even for journeys to quite distant-sounding places, for the intra-London bit to take longer than the city-to city bit. And, in much of Europe, for the same to apply at the other end.
flanneruk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 02:12 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,334
Ach, there are automatics everywhere. I rented one in Scotland in 2004.

Check out the daysoutguide.co.uk website for ideas - they may even have a category for kids. For three boys, the Imperial War Museum is a must, and a trip to Dover Castle would be fun (take the fast train from St Pancras). Ton(ne)s of castles - that's fish in a barrel.
BigRuss is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 03:23 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,282
Natalie - you don't, [unless i've missed it] mention where you're going to be living. Clearly a lot of your time is going to be taken up at least at first with settling your boys into schools/nurseries, learning to find your way round your neighbourhood/village, making friends for yourselves and your kids, etc. etc.

here are my tips:

1. overland trains and buses are a great way of getting around and you get a better view than you usually do on the tube.

2. Get to know the other parents at the kids' schools by joining the PTA [parent -teacher association, if there is one] volunteering to run a stall at the Christmas/Easter fair, etc. etc.

3. Don't forget about seeing the UK - see indydad's threads or his blog as recommended by Patrick - they've seen loads more of the UK than i have and he's only been here for a year or so!

hope you have a great time, and Welcome!
annhig is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 06:06 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 47
Since you will be there 3-5 years I wouldn't worry so much about putting together the list of must-see's now. It will evolve and develop over time. That said, I think experiences are more lasting than just seeing things - so for England experiencing sporting events (a Formula One race, a football game) and doing outdoor activities (walking trails everywhere, boating on Lake Windemere, digging fossils out of the rocks on the Jurassic coast etc.)are great memories you will all share.
You also requested 'hidden gems' - there are a few great resources on the net that focus on these - they include http://londonist.com/ , http://londonunveiled.com , and http://www.tiredoflondontiredoflife.com/ . In addition, regular publications like TimeOut London keep you up to date on whats going on - so buy it regularly. Other European cities have similar publications. Lastly, doing a search in Fodor's London forum for 'hidden' or 'secret' will find lots of prior threads that discuss the less touristy locations. See http://www.fodors.com/search/results...=london+hidden
albionbythesea is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 06:09 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,640
" i have also read on here things like don't leave your phone on the table in front of you in a coffee shop type things."

This has nothing to do with europe. This is a basic bit of common sense that you should practice everywhere in the world - including your local mall.
'
Other rules:

NEVER let go of your purse or backpack - even in hotels or restaurants - keep you hands on it at all times

Be aware of what's going on around you at all times - to avoid pickpockets.

Just all the basic safety precautions.
nytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 06:36 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
My son lives in London and my daughter down on the coast and we are from the states.They love living there and have enjoyed all of the aspects of living in the UK!

I would recommend two more books for your list-ROUGH GUIDE LONDON or BRITAIN and a book called DAYTRIPS from London (By Steinbecker?).Both of these have been used extensively by our family over the years.

A bookstore that we love that is devoted to travel with three floors of wonderful goodies is called Stanfords in Covent Garden. You will find any map,guide and other info in that store-fabulous and truly a travel junkie's favorite place.

Both of my kids have used Easy Jet and FLY BE discount airlines for inexpensive weekend trips all over Europe especially if you do it a few weeks out.Trains within Britain are expensive unless you book weeks out.

Enjoy the great museums,gardens,zoo and all of the freebies that are yours for the asking. HAVE FUN!
dutyfree is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 07:00 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,280
I would suggest you think about going to places that you wouldn't otherwise travel directly to from the US - either because they are places you would go for a short period of time or that aren't easy to get to from the US. When we lived in the UK we were relatively close to Stansted airport so we went places for a few days... Dublin, Sardinia, Bilbao, Lisbon, Madeira, Provence...
iowamom is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 07:22 PM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 45
Thanks for all the great tips! We will be living in West London or the outskirts. My husbands job will be near Heathrow, so zone 4 or 5 at least, maybe a little farther out. We will do some research when we get there.

I suppose the amount of time available to travel will be determined by real life when we get there. My intention is to get at least one or two day trips per month in or around London & SE England. One overnighter/weekend trip every two months or so. And one bigger trip outside England every 3-4 mos. I am sure we will adjust that according to how much time we are can manage with a real life.

I know my question is a little vague/too general - but everything that is listed here is what I am looking for.

The common sense safety is what might be lacking in out household. We live in a mid-sized South Texas town and most of our vacations tend to be to the midwest and south - so not really bigger cities or places you would normally associate with pickpockets or such (not that it doesn't happen), with the exception of Disneyworld. We have been to NYC and fared well, but I am a little nervous that we might learn some common sense things the hard way. Honestly, if I hadn't read a thread about someone who set their cell phone on a table in Starbucks and had it stolen while someone shoved papers in their face it wouldn't have occurred to me not to place it on the table while I looked for something in my purse or the like.

I appreciate all the responses!
Natalie2b is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 31st, 2012, 10:33 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,588
This website is very good for out the way things to do in London. http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/
alihutch is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 1st, 2012, 12:12 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,923
Here's a useful website put together by a primary school (5-11 year olds), so it may be interesting to your youngsters as well as their parents:

http://resources.woodlands-junior.ke...oms/questions/
PatrickLondon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 1st, 2012, 02:37 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,839
"Honestly, if I hadn't read a thread about someone who set their cell phone on a table in Starbucks and had it stolen while someone shoved papers in their face it wouldn't have occurred to me not to place it on the table while I looked for something in my purse or the like. "

That was Paris, that is not to say it does not happen in London, but I think the thread was also about lack of interest from the police and starbucks staff etc.

Generally you are coming to a big city and stuff is different in a big city. I think Nytraveler gives some good advice in this area which is worth noting, however I also think that approaching this adventure with confidence and trust in your heart will make it a great tour.
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:47 PM.