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Advice for new London Forum members

St. Cloud, Minnesota
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Advice for new London Forum members

WELCOME to Trip Advisor's London Forum (TALF for short)!

The London Forum is one of the most active, generous and knowledeable groups of people online I've ever seen. Forum members help each other out with advice and information for those planning trips to London or those who just love the city.

Although forum members love to answer questions and help each other out, many topics have literally dozens of threads written on them already.

There's a great feature on TripAdvisor for looking through the thread archives -- the search feature. Just type a word or phrase to search for such as "travelcard" or "Tower of London." Then browse through all the postings.

There are lots of other ways to maximize your trip planning on TALF. Come on members -- what advice do you have for newbies? Etiquette, searching, bookmarking, advice in general?

Let's offer some tips worthy of making this thread a sticky!

-- Tim

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Salem, Oregon
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1. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

We don't need another sticky -- we need lots of bumping! Maintains our "most active" status. :)

Bumping: When you add a post to an existing thread, it goes to the top of the forum. If you find something in the archives that deserves further exposure, you can get it back in current circulation by adding a post to it (bumping), either a comment, or bump or even BTTT.

AngloPig, I have been working on the same thing. Maybe I'll get the unfinished work and post here.

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2. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

BritFan - what is BTTT?

Sorry to seem ignorant but some abbreviations should be written out then condensed.

Salem, Oregon
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3. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

Bump To The Top (sorry, thought I was the ignorant one when I first encountered that about 2 years ago -- thought everyone knew it!)

Salem, Oregon
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4. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

Like IMO, or LOL.

(in my opinion. laugh out loud.)

London UK
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5. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

IMO can also be done as IMHO - "In my humble opinion" - although I suppose that since this is the *London* forum that should really be IMUO - "In my 'umble opinion" ;o)

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San Diego...
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6. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

When planning your trip to London don't try to cram in as much as possible. Your days will blend in with each other and you won't remember half of what you saw. I've never been a fan of "If its Tuesday it must be Belgium" syndrome. Group your sites together to avoid having to rush all over London. Give yourself some down time from the sightseeing. You won't be able to see everything London has to offer in one visit. Have lunch in one of the beautiful parks. Take a walk along the South Bank. Take in a free concert at St.Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square.

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Salem, Oregon
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7. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

Lucky you! You found this fantastic site. Welcome.

You can get answers to any question (within reason!) from the veteran travelers and locals who frequent this site, many of them qualifying as anoraks in real life as well as virtual. Don’t know what an anorak is? Look it up!

Using the Search Function

Seriously, the search function at the top right of this thread just below the headline is like an Open Sesame. Use it for a basic orientation to this site. Enter “anorak” and read all the threads with that word and you’ll not only find out the definition as used in Britain, you’ll learn something invaluable about the culture and best, you’ll get acquainted with the folks here, their tones, humor, helpfulness, inspiration and sometimes, mood swings.

The search function on this site is really helpful. For instance, you can search for self-catering, British Museum, day trips, open top bus tours (for example) and it’ll bring up discussions about these topics. Read through them then start a new topic with a specific question you may still have about what you’ve read.

It’s also worth checking in here every day or even a couple times a day. The topics turn over real fast and can get to page 3 or 4 and be gone forever unless someone reads back into the past. Every time someone writes on a thread it gets bumped back to the top of page 1.

Reply to a Post

Use the big yellow arrow that says Reply to Post and follow the prompts. Your post will be the last one on the thread and the thread will go to the top of page 1.

How to Start a New Topic

At the top left of this thread, just below the headline, is a button that says Post a New Topic. This is where you start a new thread. It is important to put some thought into your headline. Make it specific. If you want to know about the British Museum, say What should I see first at the British Museum?, not Hey, I have a question.

There is also a New Topic button at the bottom of a thread.

Britfan

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8. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

Anglo-most useful post. New posters should take heed, easy to say, you know that the same repetitive questions will pop up.

Using the search function provides a wealth of information. By the way, haven't seen any queries about 'afternoon tea' lately.

San Diego...
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9. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

To give an example of how much information you can get from search I entered London Walks and got 25 pages. A wealth of information and very easy to use.

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London Walks
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10. Re: Advice for new London Forum members

(Warning -- this a very long winded!!!)

Some suggestions for the first time London traveler:

First, in addition to reading this wonderful forum for ideas of the "must do's" in London, I suggest going to your local bookstore, such as Barnes and Noble, and looking thru all the London books in the travel section. Fodor's is a particular favourite with friends, as I've been told. You can also find a good selection at your local library. Some libraries and video rental stores have a small selection of travel videos/dvds.

A favourite "tip" I like to give friends is to purchase a package of 3x5 cards. For each attraction you might be interested in visiting, write out the name, address, phone number, hours and days of operation, closest tube (underground) station, and admission fee on each card. You can always slip the card(s) in your bag, pocket, etc, and it will keep you very organised. It's easier than carrying a notebook with you.

Plan outdoor and indoor activities, always have a "Plan B" in the event of rain.

It is not uncommon for London hotels, and B & B's, not to supply wash cloths -- or as they are know "face flannel". Generally the american owned hotels, like Hyatt, Marriott, Holiday Inn, Sheraton, etc. will provide them. If you don't want to bring your good ones, purchase some cheap ones at Target or Walmart. I bought some at Walgreens for less than a dollar. Buy colored ones, instead of white, so the maid/housekeeper doesn't accidentally take it with the used towels. If you don't want to bring washcloths, some people I know will bring handiwipes, and just cut them up in smaller sections, and dispose of them as they use them.

When in a restaurant, if you want a regular glass of water, you must specifically ask for "tap water," otherwise the server will bring you a bottle of water, and charge you dearly for it. If you do want bottled water -- they will ask if you want sparkling or still -- sparkling obviously is like Perrier and still is regular mineral/drinking water.

Unlike the US, restaurants don't generally offer soup and salad with your meal. These items are usually "ala carte". Don't expect a basket of rolls/bread either. If you want bread or roll, you must order it, and you will be charged for it. If you order a roll, you'll be charged about 30-50p.

If you see Lemonade on a menu, it's not the same thing as our lemonade (made from water/sugar/lemons). The UK version of Lemonade is a carbonated Lemon drink similar to our Seven-up and Sprite. .

Beverages are not served with as much ice as they are in the US, and Beer/Ale are served a bit warmer than we are accustomed to.

If you prefer Equal or Splenda, bring some with you. As far as I recall, I've only seen the "pink" packets of sugar substitute on the tables.

With regard to money. Your best bet is to use the ATM's which are all over London. You will get the best rate. There is no charge to use the ones connected to banks, but your bank will probably have a charge. You'll get a better exchange rate than if you bring cash to exchange there. Use your credit card for your high end purchases, as most credit card companies charge a fee for using your credit cards in foreign countries. Many merchants will not accept travelers cheques, and using them will generally create an inconvenience for you.

English currency is similar to US money in that 100 cents equal $1.00, and 100 pence equals £1.00

Bills, or as they are known in the UK, are called "notes," and come in denominations of £5.00, £10.00, £20.00 and £50.00. There are no £100.00 notes. Unlike the US dollar, the denomination of English notes vary in colour and size.

Coins are found in the following denominations:

£1.00

£2.00

50p

20p

10p

2p

1p

Bring a coin purse, because chances are you'll end up with many coins at the end of the day!

The sales tax is included in the price of your purchases. So, if you see a tee shirt for £10.00, it will cost you £10.00

Unlike the US where you look to your left first before crossing the street/road, in the UK you MUST look to your right, otherwise you may be flattened like a pancake.

When riding on an escalator, unless you plan on sprinting down the steps, stay to the right. Sprinters on the left!

Always have an umbrella with you, or a fold up poncho.

Make a couple of photo copies of your passport. Bring one with you, but put it in a different spot than where you will carry your original. Perhaps your suitcase, or tote bag/carry on bag. Leave a copy at home with a friend or family member, who would be able to fax it to you in the event of an emergency. Guard your passport with your life! If the hotel has a safe, leave it in the safe. Make photo copies of your credit card numbers too.

Contact your credit card company and/or bank that issued your ATM card, and let them know you will be traveling out of the country. I have known many people whose credit cards didn't work because the bank was concerned someone unauthorised to use the card was using it abroad, and the cards were suspended until they heard from the card owner.

Additionally, ask your bank and the credit card companies for direct numbers in the event you may have to call them to report a lost or stolen credit card. A toll free number will do you no good if you're in England.

If you take prescription drugs, make sure you leave them in their original bottles/containers. If you have one of those prescription plans that give you a 90 day supply, ask your local pharmacist if he'd type a label for your meds, and give you a smaller bottle. If you are prone to a particular medical problem, such as sinus infections, bladder infections, etc. - tonsillitis or ear infections if traveling with children, ask your doctor for a prescription for that "occasional" medication you take. If you suffer from a variety of ailments, it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring a list of your medications and their dosage.

If you wear contacts or glasses, ask your optician/optometrist/ophthalmologist, for a copy of your written prescription, in the event you should lose or damage your eyeglasses or contacts, or just bring extra pairs/sets.

Bring at least two pairs of comfortable walking shoes. You'll be doing a lot of walking!

If visiting the Tower of London, purchase your tickets ahead of time. Just outside the Tower Hill underground, there is a kiosk and you may purchase your tickets there, at no additional cost. Sometimes the line can be long to purchase tickets at the Tower. The same thing applies to Madame Toussaud's. This is a very popular attraction, and the line can go around the block. There is a separate line for those already holding tickets.

Take note that the Victoria Coach station (like our Greyhound Bus Stations) is in a different location (although only 1/4 mile away) from the Victoria train station. I have seen several people wandering around the train station looking for the buses!

I hope this helps..

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