After our first trip to London, we learned quite a bit about the city. Things to do and things not to do. Here is a quick list of some of the best advice I can give to any first time travelers!
DO NOT EXCHANGE YOUR MONEY AT THE AIRPORT
I made this mistake, thinking if I gave them my American Dollars I would get the equivalent of that back in Pounds. Wrong. The exchange rate was about 75% of what I thought I was getting back plus they charged a convenience fee. I lost money for not being aware. There are hundreds of places in London that will exchange your money for you - their rates are normally posted outside their shop. I would recommend finding somewhere close to your hotel, the rate by ours is far better than what we got.
USE A CONTACTLESS DEBIT/CREDIT CARD FOR THE TUBE
Our first 2 days we kept buying individual tickets for each tube ride. This is always an option but after asking one of the security guards what would be the most cost effective way for us to travel after spending quite a bit the day before, he said use a debit/credit card as your ticket. Once you reach 12 pounds, which should only take about two trips, the rest of the day will be free.
FOOD IS EXPENSIVE
We went into London thinking we wouldn't blow our budget because there is so much to do that is free there. The food and drinks however, are overpriced. We regularly found ourselves spending 80 pounds/$100 on dinners and lunches. We stopped ordering alcohol with our meals and opted to split meals when we could.
MUSEUMS/RESTAURANTS WILL CLOSE UNEXPECTEDLY
Especially in the off season. While there are many perks to traveling off-season, like quieter museums, less traffic, a more authentic experience, you will find yourself having to change plans last minute sometimes.
LONDON IS EXTREMELY HOSPITIPAL
Everyone in London was kind and helpful - even during COVID. We found ourselves often chatting with locals about America or our trip. Kindness goes a long way :)
All in all London is a wonderful place to spend a holiday. I would recommend a week at least to see all there is to see but no matter what, enjoy yourself, splurge once in a while, have fun and keep an open mind! London has a lot to offer :)