Sunday 30 October 2022

How to Prepare for a Family Trip to London

London may be known as the hustling and bustling busy capital of England, with its iconic skyline and intertwining underground system. But it is also a very popular tourist destination too with so many things to see and do. People from all over the world flock to visit London for many different reasons including sight-seeing some of the iconic attractions and buildings such as Buckingham palace, Big Ben and of course The Natural History Museum to name a few. But with London well known for being a fast paced, busy environment, is it a good place to travel to and explore with children in tow? 

Well, the simple answer is yes, but it may take a little forward planning first to minimise the stress and ensure you all have a great time. There are so many things to see and do in London that are perfect for families and young children, but it is worth planning ahead to ensure you aren't left feeling overwhelmed during your trip. 

Below are some of our top tips when it comes to planning a trip to London with kids including travel, booking attractions and where to stay!

Getting around London 

Once you have decided on a trip to London and booked up your accommodation, one of the next things you are going to want to think about is getting around London. Of course, the most obvious way is probably using the underground and this is definitely a good option if you want to get somewhere quickly without too must fuss, as long as you are confident in navigating the stops and where you need to get on and off (there are plenty of maps available for this). One bonus about using the underground and train services is that babies and young children can travel for free! This applies for all children under 11 on most tube, overground and TfL rail services when children are accompanied by a paying adult. This great post about rail fares and traveling in London with kids from Plan Trip London explains all about different fares, applying for oyster cards and travel cards. 

There are other options worth considering too such as the Uber boat by Thames Clippers. It offers a hop on, hop off service at 24 piers along the Thames between Barking Riverside Pier in the East and Putney Pier in the West. Services run from early in the morning until late at night 7 days a week. The best option ticket wise is probably the "River Roamer" ticket priced at £37.80 for a ticket which gives 2 adults and up to 3 children one day access to all 24 pier stops on the Uber boat on your chosen day. 

All of the Uber boats and piers are wheelchair and pram accessible except for Cadogan, London Bridge City and Wandsworth Riverside Quarter piers.

And finally, don't forget walking, yes, I know this seems really obvious but sometimes in London it can actually be quicker to walk somewhere than wait for the underground. Pick up a map before you go and check your route and see if you can walk before considering other transport. There are always plenty of busses and black cabs around in London so if you do start walking and decide it's too far, or it starts raining etc you can always hop into a cab or onto a bus. 

Book attractions in advance 

Just like when you visit most attractions booking in advance or online can get you some sort of discount or money off and London is no different. In fact, searching online for London attractions such as the London eye, the London Dungeons, SeaLife centre and even the Wax Works Museum to name a few, you will find some great deals. If you are looking to book a few attractions for your trip, check whether you can get these in a bundle deal too such as these offered on The London Dungeons website. There is a fantastic deal on the website allowing you to visit 5 different London attractions and when booked together you can save a whopping £84, so definitely worth booking ahead! 

Another place to look for good deals on attractions and even food is websites such as Buy a Gift and Red-Letter Days. Both offer some fantastic deals on London attractions, tours and even restaurants at a discounted rate. One in particular that caught my eye was a Vintage Bus Tour of London, Thames River Cruise and London Eye all for just over £100 and a great way to see as much of London as possible. 

Consider the location of where you are staying 

When it comes to places to stay in London you are spoilt for choice from hostels and hotels to lavish penthouse suites and a plethora of air b&b choices! But there are a few things to consider when it comes to booking your accommodation, firstly budget! London can be expensive, and accommodation is no different you can get everything from £20/£30 night to £1000's per night depending on where you stay. Secondly is location, where do you want to stay? Do you want to be in zone 1, right in the centre and near all of the attractions? If so, you are probably looking at spending a little more but will save on traveling in and out of the centre. But bear in mind this will likely also be busier and noisier at night so worth considering if you have young children with you. 

Our personal choice is usually a good old Premier Inn. They are usually reasonably priced, can be booked with a really fair cancellation policy and offer a warm and comfortable place to rest your head after a long day. They don't have all the thrills and extras other hotels might have but they usually do a cracking full English breakfast and often have a restaurant attached for a warm evening meal too. 

Eating on the go 

Wherever you go in London you are likely to be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating. From lavish restaurants to street vendors and market stalls there is something for everyone and every taste. But it is worth planning ahead where you would like to eat and when, especially if you are going to be doing lots of exploring in the day. If you are staying in a hotel that offers breakfast, filling up then can be a great way to save money. This way you can just take snacks for during the day and only have to worry about planning your evening meal. 

If you do plan on eating out at a restaurant it is worth checking a few things, one being the prices as London priced can often be inflated and two whether you need to book. Since London is often so busy, some of the best restaurants can be booked months in advance and some even have adult only sittings so it is worth checking well in advance and booking if it is somewhere, you really want to visit. 

But if you do visit London some of the best food can be found in the most unlikely of places such as Camden Market and China town where you will find some of TikTok's greatest food trends and be overwhelmed by the amazing smells coming from every stall. 

Finally, if you have kids this will probably be second nature but, no trip to London with kids would be complete with at least have a rucksack full of snacks! You are likely to be doing lots of walking, lots of exploring and kids love to snack. The cost can soon add up if you are having to buy snacks on the go all the time so bring some of their favourites from home to keep them refuelled during your trip. Not only will this hopefully withhold the "im tired" chants, but it will save you money too. 

Sensible shoes and clothes are a must 

This really goes without saying BUT as a reminder, sensible clothes are a must and that goes to footwear too for both you and the kids. If you are travelling in the summer, sandals might seem like a good option but unless you own sandals that are suitable for loads of walking, trainers may still be a better option. 

Think layers over big coats or thick jumpers, this way you can remove layers and add them back as and when you need them. If you are visiting in colder months or plan to be exploring into the evenings, having a set of hat and gloves in your backpack is a great idea as these are lightweight to carry around but can make all the difference as the colder weather hits. 

As with any trips with kids, always bring a change of clothes, you never know when they might need to change due to a late toilet notice, big muddy puddle or a delicious snack that was spilt. Storing a spare change of clothes and maybe a change of socks for everyone (if you plan on going when it might rain) can be a saviour when you really need them, and they don't really take up much room to carry round either. 

Lastly, not quite clothes or shoes but more of an extra, if your child hates loud noises like mine ear defenders are an absolute life saver! They can be carried in your bag and given to your child whenever they might become overwhelmed by the crowds and noise etc. They really do help and are such a simple way to block out noises that can be so overwhelming otherwise (even to us grown-ups!). 

Image Source: Billboardeo

And most importantly of all of course... Have Fun! If you're planning a family trip to London, you already probably know this isn't about to be one of those relaxing trips where you come back feeling refreshed and relaxed. Your feet will probably ache, and you will be ready for bed the minute your head hits the pillow every night. But embrace it and take it all in, try new foods from market stalls, embrace the city lifestyle, shop in shops you can only really find in London and if you are lucky enough to visit near Christmas, scrap your bedtime and take in the Christmas lights, you won't regret it! 

Have you ever travelled London with the kids in tow? Let us know your trips for making the most of your trip to London in the comments below. 


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