A fluorescent light display from the Victoria & Albert Museum
If you’re planning on traveling to London any time soon, here are a few essential tips that will help prepare you.
1. Always bring a light sweater or jacket no matter how hot it is.
London weather is known for being unpredictable, so it’s always worth packing a light cover-up just in case the weather changes. Not to mention, classrooms can be extremely cold, so although there may be sweat-worthy temperature outdoors, you could be freezing during class.
2. Always bring an umbrella with you.
Going off on that unpredictable weather note, it can also rain any minute. It rains during the summer in London and the weather app isn’t always reliable here either.
3. Go grocery shopping at Sainsbury as much as you can.
There are several places to buy groceries from, including Tesco and Waitrose, but Sainsbury by far has the widest selections. Groceries in London are way cheaper than in America, but it’s the opposite when it comes to dining out. Restaurant meals are either equal or more in price. My strategy has been making my own breakfast and dinner, but eating out for lunch, since my school’s campus is no where near my flat. I also eat our for brunch or dinner maybe once or twice a week. This will save you a lot of money and keep you healthier in the long run.
4. Never take a cab.
Here, my main sources of transportation are either the tube or walking. The only annoying part is that the underground tube station doesn’t run 24.7 like Philly’s Septa station does. The last tube is usually around 11pm. The good part is that the bus is always running though. However, when I need to go out late at night Uber is always my go-to. Black cabs here are so overpriced and lately there has been a huge controversy over how “fake cabs” are circulating. Uber is a lot cheaper and safer, and the best part is that you can split the fees amongst your friends. There will also always be an Uber available, no matter what time it is.
5. If you spend hundreds of pounds at one store, ask for a tax refund receipt.
Because you’re not a United Kingdom citizen, you’re not obligated to pay taxes on clothes and other goods. Therefore, if you pay a huge lump sum of money, you’re entitled to a tax refund receipt. You then present this receipt at the airport whenever you depart London, and they will refund you the tax money that you paid at the store.