Traveling to London ~ Day 1
(Paddington Train Station/London)
I mentioned a few days ago that my husband and I recently got back from a trip to England. My husband was traveling to London for work and it was a great opportunity for me to go with him. Since the kids are still in school, the grandparents helped out with them while we were gone. A big thanks to them, because without their help, I never would have had the opportunity to go. We’ve never actually traveled internationally, other than cruises, so this was a great opportunity. With my husbands company paying his way, we only had to pay my expenses. No, the flight was not cheap, but we tried to cut corners where we could.
On May 15, we flew out of Jacksonville, to Washington, where we had a connecting flight to New York, where we would then catch an overnight flight to London Heathrow airport. When we arrived in Washington, we were notified that our connecting flight to New York had been canceled. The weather all along the east coast was bad that day and lots of flights were delayed or canceled. The good news is that we packed light. One carry on for each of us and a backpack. So we didn’t worry about our luggage, as it was with us. We were able to get another flight out to London that very night, from Washington. We took our eye masks and did our best to sleep on the plane. We left the States at 10pm Thursday night and after a 7+ hour flight, we landed in London at 10am Friday morning.
We had been told to help with jet lag, to try our best to stay awake the entire first day and get plenty of sun light. We met up with my husbands co-workers for lunch and enjoyed chatting with them about their city. I could listen to the British accents all day! We took the train from Heathrow airport to the Paddington train station. I thought the Paddington train station was beautiful. As I would soon learn, most of the city has incredible architecture. The first picture in this post shows all the bicycles parked in the train station. There are many commuters who take the train into town, just like New York and then ride a bike from there to the office. Or vice versa.
Before we left we notified our bank and credit card that we would be traveling so they wouldn’t put a fraudulent hold on our accounts. We also switched to a different credit card before we left. We called the credit card company about currency exchange fees and they recommended using their world card instead of our regular upromise card for this trip. The world card does not have any conversion fees. We also had a list of what ATM’s we could use that would not charge us a conversion fee. Some machines themselves charge a fee to use, but at least we’d eliminated a conversion fee. The first thing we did in the train station was use the ATM and get out local money (pounds) to use if we needed cash. If you do decide to use cash, take out as much as you can at the ATM to avoid extra fees. It’s better to take out once a day and only incur 1 fee, as opposed to 3 times a day and incur 3 fees.
We still needed to take a taxi from the train station to the hotel. There is a line for taxis outside the station so we asked for one that accepted Credit Cards, for work reasons. So we were pointed to one that had credit card info on the window and we got in. After we rounded the corner I saw a sign in the taxi that said “cash only”. After discussing this with the driver, he turned around to drop us off so we could get another taxi. But aren’t they fun looking vehicles?!
We waited in line for a while because no one wanted to take us. I’m guessing they are charged fees, just like here in the states, to use credit cards, so none of them want to do it. The taxi stand kept asking the drivers that were coming in and we got lots of ‘no’ shaking heads.
I will say, when we finally got one, I was happy he drove us down The Mall, past Buckingham Palace!
I know these posts won’t always have money saving tips that are relevant, but many people have asked me to share. I think it’s fun to share with you all and I hope you enjoy and maybe learn something through our trials. 🙂 Stay tuned for more posts including some fun stuff on washing machines, One Direction and armed airport security! 🙂 Yes I said One Direction…lol.