First Time Traveling Advice!
Replies: 20 - Last Post: Jan 12, 2012 11:53 PM Last Post By: Shuffaluff
Jan 10, 2012 11:10 AM
First Time Traveling Advice!I will be going to England from the 28th of January to the 5th of February. I was supposed to be travelling with a friend, but she decided she didn't want to come last minute. This will be my first time traveling alone and as a 18 year old girl from Canada, I'm a little bit scared! If anyone has any tips on where to go, what to see, where to stay, or if anyone would like to take some time to show me around or knows someone who would, I would be very appreciative!
Jan 10, 2012 11:33 AM
1Hi - welcome aboard.
Now - hold all our hands and we'll make you feel a lot easier about your first trip alone.
Firstly see yourself - if you can, as apprehensive and not scared.
We all did our first trip alone at some stage of our travelling adventures. I was a little tot of 15.... Very wary - too, just like you.
It's true - I've been to Canada many times (I live in The UK) that Canadians tend to travel around their own country - more than adventuring further afield overall, than us European citizens. However, travelling as a Canadian across your vast country has as many, your ambitions concerning travelling to another continenet alone - and also the things that worry you most - and we'll show you it isn't as scary as you might think.
Over to you.
Jan 10, 2012 12:02 PM
2Welcome to Thorn Tree.
You need to help us to answer you. Where in England are you going? You do know, of course, that England is a country... not as big as Canada, but packed with things to see and do everywhere. What are your interests? Museums, architecture, history, art, food, theatre?
The weather at any time of year is totally unpredictable. It could be fairly warm and sunny, heavy rain, or in midwinter even snow. Not very cold by Canadian standards, but not really "outdoors" weather.
Where to stay, meaning what city, or what type of accommodation? What's your budget? Hotel, or hostel dorm? On the assumption that it's more likely to be a hostel dorm, are you looking for a "party" hostel, full of young people, lots of drinking and sex, or are you a quiet, restrained type wanting a good night's sleep and safe in the knowledge that you won't be doing anything your parents hope you won't be doing? If it's the latter, you'd probably looking at the YHA (Hostelling International). Neither type of hostel is "better", just different, and it depends on what kind of person you are. In this regard, 18-year-olds on their first trip abroad vary enormously, and without knowing anything about you it's impossible to suggest any specific accommodation even if we did know what city you're looking at.
Come back here when you have done a bit of research, by reading a guidebook, and can ask specific questions.
Jan 10, 2012 12:43 PM
3You'll be fine. I had made many solo train / coach trips all over GB starting around age 10 years in about 1975(female then as now!), starting with short journeys eg around suburbs of Birmingham, before travelling eg Aberdovey to Birmingham when 11 years old, returning home from Outward Bound course, plus flew to Paris alone when 12 years. By age 18 years, I was travelling all over, usually to visit relatives or older friends at university / physio school in other cities.
If you want to meet people, particularly fellow young people, hostels are better than hotels or B&Bs. Shuffaluff has explained what to think abotu in choosing hostels. I'd also add that some hostels will be closed during your trip or only open on Fri & Sat nights, so make sure you check opening dates on websites - you may be relying on phoning from print outs if you don't have wi-fi, although public libraries are also good places for (usually free) internet access.
Apart from that, further advice about places to go etc, depends so much on your interests, so let us know and we'll try to help.
Jan 10, 2012 12:45 PM
4I apologize for my brief and broad questions!
I've made quite a few decisions for myself in the last hour or so. I will be staying in London in a hostel. I am quiet and reserved and don't want to partake in any sort of partying, so thank you for the YHA recommendation. I am very aware that England has many things to do and see and was just looking for any sort of direction! Specifically, I am looking for recommendations in London. I am interested in history, architecture and art mostly. I love all kinds of weather and would be willing to do outdoor activities in rain & snow!
Jan 10, 2012 12:59 PM
5Most museums are free - the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum (the latter contains what could be described as "beautiful things" which sounds like it would fit in with your interests), the Museum of London, to name only a few. And of course for art, the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, also free. Of course all these have websites giving addresses and opening hours.
For architecture, just walk around looking at the buildings. Any particular period?
Buy an Oyster card for public transport, and load it with about 30 pounds to start off with. No need to order it on line in advance; buy it when you get there. You'll save a bundle of money on public transport that way. You can top up as needed, and any money left over at the end will be refunded. For something a bit different that won't cost you anything since it's included in the Oyster card, take a ride on the Docklands Light Railway to see a view of London that's a bit "off the beaten track" although hardly secret.
Jan 10, 2012 2:16 PM
6Another vote for the museums - http://www.londonforfree.net/indoors/museums/museums.shtml - this site has lots of good free things you can do, as well as some of the ones you pay for.
www.yha.org.uk is the site for the Youth Hostelling Association. Book directly with them if you can, but you'll still have to pay for temporary membership on arrival, so make sure you're aware of that as a lot of people get all upset about it as they haven't read the booking properly!
There are lots of hostels in London - YHA are not the only non-party places, and you may prefer the look of some of the others which are more eclectic or in a place you'd be more interested in staying.
Enjoy your first trip on your own - I love travelling by myself, and I especially enjoy London as a solo visitor (albeit I only live 2 hours or so away!).
One thing I do that you may want to try is to get last minute walk-up tickets to shows or musicals. I saw Tosca at the Royal Opera House - bought a £13 ticket (standing) but after the first act, there were a few seats still vacant. I'd asked an usher if I could take one if at the start of the second act they were empty and I ended up sitting in a fabulous seat which would have otherwise cost me best part of £100. As it was, if I'd had to stand I would have been quite happy. Just don't wear jeans though - I think I was the only person that was foolish enough to do that and I looked very out of place!
Jan 10, 2012 2:48 PM
The Oyster Card was mentioned and you might wonder what that is. It is an electronic travel card that you place on a yellow disk at the tube, or rail station (in London only) or bus (by the driver.) A computer then subtracts the pre-paid amount from the card (you can top them up at tube stations, by cash or credit card.) This is cheaper than buying a paper ticket each time. The computer should never charge you more than the minimum fare. So the card automatically turns into a "travel pass" for the day, if you have spent that much, that day (there is different charges for different zones.)
You may also buy a weekly travel pass and put it on the card, while also having "pay as you go" on it. IE, if you buy a zone 1 pass, but then travel to zone 2, your zone 1 travel is on the pass, but the zone 2 travel is subtracted from the money on the "pay as you go" part of the card.
Boy this is getting long winded, and why am I telling you this?
The cheapest travel in London is by bus. A single journey is £1.35 with an oyster card, and £4.20 for a day pass. A weekly is only £18.80 for unlimited travel in any zone at any time for the whole week. And one of the best ways to see London, is from the top of a double deck bus. It may take longer to get somewhere, but what rush are you in?
This might save you a little money. See www.tfl.gov.uk for every thing on travel in London.
Jan 10, 2012 3:41 PM
8Best advice I can give is to stay well away from the East London area on the 4th Feb,,, all hells gonna break loose. I'd say from about 9am-6pm. This may include the City area around Liverpool St as well. A football match is taking place that makes your Vancover hockey riots look like a picnic with the Tellytubbies.
Jan 11, 2012 1:42 AM
9OK, so you're staying in London - lots of good ideas for places to stay / visit, so I won't add much. Just to say that sometimes wandering and looking above eye level can reveal some "hidden gems" - I'm thinking particularly of walks I've done, usually with ultimate aim of getting somewhere eg Tower Bridge, along south bank of Rvier Thames to Millennium Bridge; South Kensington underground station to Royal Geographical Society at junction with Kensington Gardens / Hyde Park; Kings Cross railway Station through Bloomsbury to Holborn. You'll see shrapnel marks from WWII bombs in wall of V&A Museum, various ships along south bank of Thames, plaques about history of medicine etc in those walks. Obviously, you need to look like you know where you're going, walk confidently & be aware of your surroundings, but don't be over-vigilent and miss out on experiences. I spent from age 19 to 22 living & working at University College Hospital, and spent many off duty hours wandering / cycling round, never with any problems, although I always kep sober enough to be able to walk home safely.
I'd also suggest at least a day trip somewhere, as UK is not just London. Greenwich is part of London, but a boat trip from Victoria Embankment to Greenwich to vist Maritime Museum & Observatory makes a good day; Brighton is about 1 hr from London Victoria or London Bridge railway stations good for a taste of the seaside & Brighton Pavillion (very strange & interesting oriental themed building); Cambridge is 45 mins from London Kings Cross railway station (or slower & cheaper from London Liverpool Street) & has colleges, punting on River Cam, Fitzwilliam Museum, Iron Age ring ditch & 15th century granary & 18th century horse racing stables & Highland cattle at Wandlebury Country Park (free entry, get 13 or X13 bus from Cambridge city centre to top of Gog Magog Hills) etc.
Jan 11, 2012 2:47 AM
10#10, I have never heard anyone recommending Wandlebury before. What a good call for something different. Some friends and I planted a tree for a friend there and I've been a few times.
Hi OP. You'll get your rain, but not (I suspect) your snow. You could easily spend all your time in London but a day trip might give you a taste of England more than London does. I think either Brighton or Cambridge would be great but do prepare yourself for jetlag.
I would suggest a guidebook would be a good idea to help with orientation as well as giving ideas rather than following it as a bible. I usually use LP.
Jan 11, 2012 3:09 AM
If I were a scared 18 year old girl worried about solo travel, I'd be very carefull about advertising my situation and looking for strangers to show me around. Be careful, unless you are a....dare I say....a troll?
I think the photo gives it away a little.
Jan 11, 2012 7:31 AM
12Thank you so much for all the wonderful tips on what to check out!! I will definitely make sure to check out all the museums, I can't believe they're free! Thanks also for transportation advice, the websites I were researching were a tad confusing. You were all very helpful. Also, thanks to billthehammer for the safety tip! I'll be sure take that under advisement. To Buddy_Fudgeman, you're very right though I hoped the kind folks on lonely planet were trustworthy enough to be honest with. Thank you all again! I'm sure my trip will be a great success. :)
Jan 11, 2012 8:45 AM
And for future reference, it's not a good idea to use what I assume is your real full name on an Internet forum, for the same reason. The others who have posted here can't be identified in real life from their user names.
Jan 12, 2012 2:35 AM
14I think the advice i would give is don't advertise yourself to strangers on the internet. Even if you were just looking for someone to meet up with and get shown around somehwere,. The best way to be comfortable with the people around these parts is to hang out and get to know them. I have met a few TTers on my travels, all good stuff. Howvere I have been around this site since 1999. I got to know posters before I actually met them.
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