Things I Wish I Knew Before I Traveled With My Kids To London
We just got back from traveling with our kids in London for 4 days and there were a few things I wish I had known before I traveled with my kids to London. Nothing major, earthshaking or over the top. Just a few practical things that we will keep in mind next time we visit this amazing city.
Kids Under 11 travel for free on the London Tube.
We had 2 kids under 11 and one 13 year old. The younger two were free because my husband and I had the Pay as you go Oyster Card. The thirteen year old used a young visitor discount card. She traveled at half the regular adult rate.
The younger two walked through the stroller/wheelchair access turnstile with me or my husband while my thirteen year old would go through the regular turnstile, tapping her card as she went.
For more information about the types of cards you can get for traveling with children in London visit the Transportation For London website.
Get The Audio Tour
There are SO MANY museums, historical sites and tours to take in London. Many of the museums are free for the kids and admissions prices are not unreasonable for adults. The kids, and you, will get so much more out of the expereince if you spend the extra 2 to 5 pounds to get the audio tour. The sites come to life when the audio tour is playing. Often there is a ‘family’ version of the audio tour that is geared more towards kids. More fun facts that kids will relate to instead of just facts and dates. Often I would listen to the family or kid version of the tour because I was more engaging!
Also don’t feel you have to get an audio tour for each person. Often you can hold the device between two people or use a set of earbuds to split the audio between two people. Make sure you take ear buds that you are comfortable with as the ones that are provided are not always that comfortable.
Public Toilets Will Cost You
Where toilets in art galleries, museums, department stores, and public buildings will be free of charge most restaurants will have toilets for customers only. If you are not in one of these areas and nature is calling your child you are going to have to have a bit of change in your pocket to use a public restroom. The Tube has toilets but they will cost you about 30 pence.
My advise would be to hold the door for each person in your party, just hand it off and not let it close between users. If you are super lucky, you might encounter a kind toilet user who will hand off their door to you as well.
Sit And Take A Break
This was the advise from my 11 year old when I started writing this article. She wanted me to tell you to sit and take a break. And she is RIGHT! Often on trips we go, go, go, go and try to get in all the activities we can. But sometimes you just need to sit and take a break. Taking a 15 minute break of a bench or shady patch of grass will enhance the rest of your day. Allowing your body and mind to rest for a small amount of time is well worth the time spent. You will be able to get up and have more energy to enjoy the rest of your days activities.
Learn How To Pack A Packing Cube:
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Drinks Come In Cans And Bottles
Here in the states we are accustom to sodas and drinks coming in a cup from a soda fountain. In most of Europe they come in a recyclable can or bottle and are non refillable at the restaurant. Also the portions are smaller. The kids would order their drink and we would have to remind them when it arrived that their drink had to last through the entire meal and there would be no refills. Well, there COULD be a refill but we weren’t going to be paying for the refill! We were pleasantly surprised how the adjusted their consumption of their beverages and balanced out the sodas and juices with water. I hope we can keep it up now that we are home!
Get The Fish And Chips
It might seem a bit cliche or touristy, but GET THE FISH AND CHIPS! Our kids were surprised to learn that ‘chips’ were in fact, thick cut french fries and not thin, crisp potato chips. They also learned to enjoy them with vinegar! If your kids give the batter fried fish filet the side eye, just explain that THIS is the London version of a fish stick. It is BIG and it can be cut into little pieces on their plate. We found that we could get our kids to eat MOST things on our trip if we explained that this item was the local version of a similar dish we served back home.