Updated: Oct 19
Am I the only one who randomly busts out a British accent...like, all the time?!? Since I have such an affinity for the dialect, I figured it was time to actually visit England. And what better city to start in, than the capitol.
I've always wanted to visit London and because they speak English, it was at the top of my list for places to visit solo. I'm sure that once I'm more seasoned at traveling alone, I'll venture to a place where English isn't the primary language, but sometimes ya gotta make it easy on yourself!
I used Kayak.com to find my flight and ended up getting a great price from British Airways. I like to use sites that compare multiple airline prices, and I always check the site on different days of the week to see when prices tend to be lowest. You can also sign up for email updates with your favorite airlines, that way you'll know if they ever have deals happening. Thorough research and planning can definitely save you money!
One of the best things about London is the extensive public transportation system. Nothing beats a train that picks you up in the airport and drops you off a few blocks from your hotel. I think Chicago is the only other city I've visited with that convenience. If you're traveling light and don't want to do a taxi, I highly suggest getting an Oyster card and taking the tube. The Oyster card is a stored value metro card that can be used for a number of things while you're visiting London. You can find all the details about it here:
Because I was planning to take in a few plays, I decided to stay in the West End. I wanted to be able to walk to the theater (in heels!) so it was essential that I wasn't trekking too far. After reading through tons of reviews on Booking.com I found that Z Hotel had the best pricing for my budget. I ended up getting a queen room that faced the courtyard, and twas lovely. Their front desk staff wasn't especially warm or welcoming, but I think that's just a cultural thing. The location was top notch, and they offered a complimentary wine & cheese spread, so they did have their redeeming qualities. zhotels.com has locations throughout the city, and all in great locations that are close to all the action, so it's worth looking into.
The first show that I saw was SIX (sixonbroadway.com) and it. was. EPIC. I didn't know anything going into it, but based on the costumes alone, I was sold. If you get the chance to check it out, walk don't run, because you've never heard the tea on Henry VIII spilled this way!
The next show I saw was called & Juliet (www.andjulietbroadway.com). The premise made me go "oohhh?" and the fact that the score consisted of pop tunes from the 80's, 90's and 00's totally sealed the deal. I would highly recommend this show if you're into top 40 tunes and alternate endings!
I found tickets to both shows on the Broadway.org list of shows in London's West End. And because I was going alone, I was able to snag great seats for around €45...which is way cheaper than the $150 price tag here in the US. If you wanna keep your plans open ended, you can always hit up the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for last minute seats. You can get more info about TKTS here:
One of the best decisions I made as a solo traveler was to hire a photographer for a photo tour. It was the perfect way for me to see some of the sites in London and capture all my memories in the new wardrobe I made for this trip. I mean look at that ensemble, who wouldn't wanna capture that?!
I went to airbnb.com to check out their experiences and managed to find a number of photo shoot tours. There was a wide range of pricing options from €20-120, so you can make it happen on pretty much any budget. I chose based off of who had pictures that looked like what I wanted, but you can also go with whichever one stops at the locations that you want to see. Just be sure to do your research and go with someone who has plenty of good reviews so you can have some peace of mind.
One of my favorite things to do when I travel is walk around. It doesn't sound like it would be very interesting, but it's truly the best way to take in a new place. When you don't have a strict schedule, you give yourself time to explore and happen upon places or events that may not have been on your radar. I like to have a list of a few things that have set time requirements, but then I leave the rest of my time open for wandering or taking in suggestions from locals.
You can use sites like tripadvisor.com or tripsavvy.com to get an idea of what attractions a city has, and you'll also be able to see up to date reviews. Those sites are also a great starting point for restaurant recommendations too. And don't underestimate the power of a Google search for your destination! There are so many helpful blogs that have all sorts of useful information for traveling to a specific locale, so take the time to read through some.
I did do some other fun things while in jolly ol England, but you'll have to read about those in another post. I truly had a fantastic time celebrating my 40th in London. I was a little worried about feeling lonely, but as it turns out, I LOVE spending time with me! Hopefully this inspires you to get out there and jet set, even if you're flying solo.
Keep It Crafty!