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Traveling to London alone ! Need advice/help

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Jul 30th, 2011, 09:57 AM
  #1
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Traveling to London alone ! Need advice/help

Hello !

I'm 20 years old and am on the cusp of being able to go to London. The only problem is that my friend who lives in Oxford (2 hours outside of london) can only house me for three days. My dad, I thnk, would allow me to go by myself if there was something more "structured" for me. Like a...tour? I'm not too sure. I didn't think my dad would let me go by myself so I stopped looking, but he brought it up at breakfast this morning.

So really what I'm looking for is some advice from anyone who has ever been to London (by themselves or not) and can help soothe my dad with...I don't know, whatever could help give him that extra push to let me go.

Also, if anyone has any advice about traveling alone and what to do while in London (or paris? let me know !

Tentative Dates: Aug. 15-aug.23 or 24

Thanks so much,

Jess
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:19 AM
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There is no reason not to come to London by yourself!! Its very easy to get around using the Tube and no need for a structured tour!

I would get a good guide book and organize what you want to see by area so you dont spend a lot of time zipping across London.

A good website message board to check out is Thorntree - they cater to younger crowds and maybe you could hook up with some other girls for part of the time. (obviously be careful about meeting up with people online - take precautions like meet in a public place!) At least you would find out where other younger people are staying and hanging out. I am sure once you get here you will have no problem finding people to hang out with and things to do!
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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First of all - many of our UK/European posters will have a hard time w/ a 20 yo not being 'allowed' to travel solo. Many of their kids start traveling w/ friends or even alone much earlier and do entire gap years (between what Americans call high school and the first year at university --age 17 to maybe 19 tops) on their own. 20 is an adult.

So --just in case you get some "of course" responses - it is just a different parental mind set. Assuming you are from the States --many US parents do tend to be more "sheltering" than other nationalities. I'll just leave it at that.

Traveling at your age is very safe, especially to someplace like England.-- but it also depends on how much independence you've had so far. Have you traveled in the States--even for just overnights on your own?

There are tours -- unfortunately most of the ones geared to your age group are party central -like Kontiki. Not my idea of a good way to see England. But they are group tours and accommodations and touring are arranged for you.

If it was me, I'd go visit my friend in Oxford and book the rest of your time in a room at university housing in London -- several rent out rooms on a B&B basis.
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:23 AM
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Let me see if I got this right - you're a 20 year old woman and you need your Dad's permision to go to London? By the time I was your age, I'd back-packed single-handedly across half the countries of Europe, staying in youth hostels or campsites. My parents were fairly protective people with little experience of travel themselves, and were a little anxious about my first forays into the wider world, but the idea of them allowing me to go never arose.
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:23 AM
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was posting the same time as jamikins (as often happens )
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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First of all - many of our UK/European posters will have a hard time w/ a 20 yo not being 'allowed' to travel solo.

Janis - you must have read my mind!
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:30 AM
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re Gordon_R's post . . . see what I meant

(and I do tend to agree w/ him-- it is just that many American parents wouldn't . . . )
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:33 AM
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Gordon_R: oops --I was posting and didn't see your 2nd post. Yep - but thanks, you did illustrate my point sorta perfectly.
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:43 AM
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Hi Jess, you'll be fine in London. If it's the first time you're traveling on your own, London is a great place to start. If you have a budget for a hotel of B&B people here can give you advice. I would advise staying fairly central, so you won't have to take long journey's in the evening back to your hotel.

Can't advise you on what to do and see without knowing what your interests are, but tell your father that I let my 18-year old stay in London for 3 months on her own; she was absolutely fine. (but I'm not an American parent!)
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Jul 30th, 2011, 10:49 AM
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If you're 20 I don;t know why you need your dad's permission to do anything - unless you're expectinghimm to pay for it. (In that case you may have a problem.) If you do expect him to pay - suggest you go get a job, ave he money and simply go on your own dime.

There is no reason at all not to go toLOndon by yourself.

But - YOU need to do a lot of reearch and planning tomake this work. Asking us what to see and do is a really bad sign. You need to know what you want to see/do, somehting of the history of the place, understand how public transit wors etc. And understand that you really can;t see London from Oxford. While there I suggest you see Oxford, and some of the neaby sights - THEN hed for London and stay there (in the center so you can walk to a lot of places).

Have you worked out a budget - besides airfare what hostels or hotel will cost, meals, sightseeing etc. Perhaps if you do this in detail and then show to your dad he will give permission-ad you will know if you can really afford to go.

I went to europe the first time at 19 - with my boyfriend. I didn't ask my parents if I could go - I told them we were - but I paid for my whole trip (as well as supporting myself through college) and so didn't need anyone's permission.
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Jul 30th, 2011, 01:07 PM
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Oh, wow ! Thanks for all the response.

It's not so much about "letting me go" as it is about him wanting me to be safe there and yes, I am from America.

I've travelved quite a bit in the states, but never all by myself. And I was planning on going for Heathrow to Oxford and stay there for three nights and then go back to london and stay there for the last...five days. I looked up a site called LSE vacation accomidations and they have the B&B's that, janisj, you talked about. They seem nice to stay in for the last five days.

And I do have a bunch of places I want to go: Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Thames River, Westminister Abbey, and the West End.

I'm still working on the budgeting for all of the tours and stuff above. I would be paying for almost the entire trip on my own, with some help from my dad.

I really appreciate all your advice. And I wish it was as easy as just going. I won't lie...I'm a little nervous (if all works out) to go on my own to a different country, but I know it would be an amazing experience
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Jul 30th, 2011, 01:31 PM
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LSE is a great place to stay --reasonable rates and their halls are in good locations.

The easiest (and cheapest) way to get from Heathrow to Oxford is an express coach (intercity bus). That is faster and easier than taking the train into London and then another train up to Oxford.

Then you can take another express coach or a train when you travel from Oxford into London.

From central London back out to LHR you get on the Piccadilly tube line (any of its stations depending on where you end up staying) and travel straight out to the airport w/oany transfers. Really easy -- don't over-pack though and take tons of luggage
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Jul 30th, 2011, 01:37 PM
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<>

Yes indeed. My eldest daughter was 18 when she left the UK to spend 3-4 months backpacking ALONE round Thailand, VietNam, Laos and Cambodia. She met lots of other young people in hostels and on boats and trains and buses. She had a terrific time, despite being robbed and experiencing some aggression and minor physical abuse. She made what seem to be some lifelong friends along the way. She's only 22 now.

My younger daughter has travelled to Chicago and twice to South Africa by herself, albeit meeting up with friends when there. She was aged 16, 18 and 19 when she made these trips.

You will be fine in London. Depending where you choose to stay you will most likely meet with lots of people in similar situations to yourself. Try websites like Gumtree and Thorntree. Also my girls found www.gapyear.com very useful, and eldest DD arranged to meet several people through it.

In fact she's now living in London, SE9 south of the river, and I'm sure would be happy to meet with you at some point, if that is a factor which might sway your dad into being more agreeable to your visit.
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Jul 30th, 2011, 05:25 PM
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London also has a fair amount of youth hostels that can be a cheaper alternative to hotels and a good way to meet other young people also travelling!
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Jul 30th, 2011, 05:35 PM
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"London also has a fair amount of youth hostels that can be a cheaper alternative to hotels"

LSE or another college would be better than a hostel IMO. There are good hostels in London and TERRIBLE ones - just the sort of places that Jessica's dad is worried about.
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Jul 30th, 2011, 07:55 PM
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Wow, Julia_T thank you for the offer to have your daughter meet with me at some poing. That's very nice of you and I'll definitely tell my dad. And thank you, janisj you're very informative.

I really appreciate all the advice (and opinions) on here. I just finished the budgeting for it and a tentative plan of what to do and where to do it (to be honest I'm more of a go with the flow kind of person, but for my dad's sake...). I'm hoping to show it to my dad tomorrow or at least ask him about going again.

I'll keep you posted
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Jul 30th, 2011, 08:11 PM
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Certainly hope that it all works out for you! Have a great trip!
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Jul 30th, 2011, 08:12 PM
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BTW, after this trip, you will be back to Europe many, many times!
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Jul 31st, 2011, 03:01 AM
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It won't be long before you'll be able to show your dad around London as though you're a native. One point about university accommodation. They're let out in the vacations to anyone: you might be meeting people of all ages and types, though perhaps with a slight bias towards academics - or you might not get to know anyone particularly, just as if you were in any ordinary B&B; one more sociable point is that they tend to have a communal kitchen available, but you're not in a particularly "university" atmosphere. The more recent LSE accommodation, for example, has been in converted office buildings and commercial developments.

You could also check out the Youth Hostels Association hostels: some commercial "hostel" operations can indeed be more than a bit iffy, but the YHA ones should be more reliable. You might want to check out reviews of individual hostels.
http://www.yha.org.uk/
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