"From the United States east..." London Transportation Tip by OnMyOwnPath

London Transportation: 1,870 reviews and 1,890 photos

From the United States east coast, it is not difficult at all to get to London, and during the offseason, airfares are quite inexpensive, so check around and book a trip. Late in-season (August) was expensive, but not as bad using Hotwire, though you lose flexibility with your travel plans that way.
Updated 6 Sept. 2001: If you can, find someone local who knows the city that can get you around. Otherwise, you can take the famous Tube and remember to 'mind the gap'. It's not very hard at all to figure out if you've spent any time at all on subways, and at the busier stations, workers were there to assist in purchasing subway passes and tickets.<P>

Depending upon your stay, you may want to purchase some kind of pass, as it'll save you having to queue up at busier stations.<P>

The Heathrow Express (as well as the Gatwick Express) is a bit expensive but very clean, efficient and quick getting you from Heathrow Airport to Paddington station downtown and back. Note: Gatwick takes you to the Victoria train station and back. If you are flying from Heathrow you can check your bags at Paddington. If you need to reach Stansted airport, or anywhere else by rails, allow yourself extra time as you are likely to face delays, postponements or cancellations.<P>

Also, if you go by rail anywhere, as I did, find out which of London's stations you need to leave from and when the train times are. Overall, the Stansted Express took about an hour and 15 minutes. The Gatwick Express took just around 30 minutes from the airport to Victoria Station. Stansted Airport itself is small and undergoing some construction, but easy to find your way around in it.<P>

If you're going to places within Europe, check out RyanAir for cheap flights (or another discounter, especially if you're on a budget).<P>

As for riding BritRail, you want to pay close attention to where you're going and where you're sitting. First of all, you should know if your train is splitting off and going in another direction, as happened to me. I was one car back from where I should have been when my train I thought was going to Portsmouth split and it was late in the evening, so I was almost stuck in a place I didn't plan to be. Fortunately, there was another connection to Portsmouth from where the train split, but it caused me to miss my hostel reservation, miss the last scheduled buses for the evening and an expensive taxi fare to find me a hostel that was open at the late hour I arrived in Portsmouth.<P>

Reservations: They weren't necessary for short trips under two hours, and for long trips, it is recommended, as there are a lot of reserved seats, but I talked to a counter agent about that at one of the rail stations (I believe it was the Euston station) that if you're going on a long trip and didn't reserve in advance, you're likely to find unreserved seats in car C of the train you're riding on. Otherwise, you have to check the train you wish to go on and look for unreserved spots on it. I rode the rails on a 7-day BritRail pass, which I like. It's good for travel in Wales and Scotland, as well as England, and is good on the Gatwick or Heathrow Express also after your ticket is validated.<P>

The station in Preston does not have functioning lavatories (bathrooms) so they have portable areas set up for this purpose. I did not like this, and had workers, for some reason, pulling on my locked door trying to get in. I didn't understand what they were trying to do, except to perhaps clean it.<P>

Type: Train

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Sep 7, 2002
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