Before You Pack
11 March 2013
Although this is my main page giving insight and recommendations before you start packing, please see my Banking and Money page in the Day-to-Day section.
Airline Fairs & Upgrades
Airline fairs typically do not include tax and departure fees and these could add $100 to $150 to the price of the ticket. There have been times that you may be required to pay an additional departure fee after you check in at the airport. Most of these fees are not under the control of the airlines. Be prepared. Keep in mind that airlines post their charge for travel because this is under their control.
Airlines are imposing fees for making reservations, checking bags and fuel surcharges. These can add cost to your trip and allowances should be made for them.
Specific to US Airways (as of December 2011): passengers can upgrade with cash or cash and miles. Cash upgrades can be purchased at check-in if seats are available. US Airways requires 24 hour advance notice if using miles.
Airline Reservations & the 4-Hour Rule
Work this with Flight Scheduling (below)
I made reservations with US Airways from my office computer in January 2010 and I had a problem. The reservation system would not accept my credit card information. Two representatives told me to enter US Airway’s site without using a search engine. That did not solve the problem. I then learned about the four-hour rule. One of my layovers was scheduled for 4 hours and SIX minutes. If you plan a layover greater than 4 hours the system will not accept the reservation, as it wants to treat the next flight as a new and separate reservation. One of the reps was able to make my reservation for me and at no extra cost. As their system was working properly, they could have charged me for the reservation. But they told me that other people have this problem as well.
One needs to check with your carrier and the TSA for latest up-dates on security issues. The liquid ban may be in effect forever but be aware that there is also a restriction on lithium batteries in checked luggage. No loose batteries are permitted. Only those inserted into the proper device can go into checked luggage. Loose lithium batteries have been known to short out and cause a fire. This does not work well in aircraft.
It is advisable to order tickets with the same name as shown on your passport. If there is a difference it can cause you a delay or prevent you from boarding. If you need to change your name on a ticket (a cause for re-issue) a substantial fee can be imposed unless you can convince the airline that it was their fault. You may also be required to present your driver’s license and tickets for passage thru security. As a gent I don’t think about this much but ladies could have a maiden name on an old ID. See Secure Flight Program, below.
The OK Stamp
Typically airlines want you to print out your boarding pass as it saves them time, paper and money. Once you have a pass you just go directly to your gate and wait. Do listen for the announcements. You may be required to present your boarding pass at the gate if travelling overseas. This is an added security measure.
Be aware. Once when I flew from Dusseldorf to London I had to give back my pre-printed pass to get a new “old fashioned” paper pass. Listen to the announcements.
See Credit & Debit Cards, below.
See Luggage, below
Should you not have a cell phone or one that does not work in the UK, you can make calls using calling cards. They could be cheaper than using the phone in your room and they can be used in the states once you get back. Cards usually come in various amounts and can be purchased easily at hotels, newsagents, Travelex and even the Post Office in the UK.
(Driving in the UK)
I have little information on this at the moment so an Internet search should be helpful. One can rent a car but do some research first. Remember, that unlike the US and the European mainland, England and the rest of the UK drive on the left. Negotiating roundabouts can be a nerve-wrecking event if you are not use to doing this sort of thing.
These sites can get you started and offer good information.
US AAA: http://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpf.html has good advice on the International Driver’s License. Most countries do not accept your US issued driver’s license. It is recommended that you have a license even if you are not driving as it can be used as identification separately or with your passport.
This site keys in on safety and education: http://www.driving.co.uk/
The Automobile Association (AA) is the equivalent to the AAA in the US. They are the final word on driving in the UK. They and others have countless books at all major bookstores throughout the UK.
Remember, that driving while drunk, intoxicated or on drugs is much more serious that in the US. When is comes to punishment we are the easy going country. Being a dumb American will not help you nor can the US Embassy get you off.
International Driving License
This license is issued by only two authorized automobile associations in the United States: the American Automobile Association (AAA Vacation) and National Automobile Club (formerly the American Automobile Touring Alliance). They are authorized by the US Department of State. Other entities selling them through the mail or Internet are not valid. The US Department of State has safety tips that one should read. The European Union also has safety information.
Referred to as mobile phones in the UK. Please see my Electronics in the UK page for adaptors and charging.
Check your carrier for details on using your phone in the UK. You get to keep your number and carrier for billing but for service you will go through a UK based carrier and you should not experience any difference in how you use your phone. UK Student Life (.com) has excellent information on all aspects of mobile phone use in the UK.
Contact your provider quickly should you loose your phone. You could also report it lost to the police but do not report it as stolen unless it really was, along with purse, bags or luggage, if at all. The police can examine your records and view CCTV to help verify the loss. Should they determine the phone was simply lost this false report could lead to your arrest: then who are you going to call?
Computers with Internet and search engines have changed our lives and how we do things. This document could be massive if I tried to put all that I would like to have in it but it is un-necessary. Almost all information about travel can change without notice but it is no longer an issue thanks to the world-wide-web. Visit some of the websites I have included, as this will bring you with the most up-to-date information. Do take advantage of Google Maps to see where you are going. Click the satellite button to see cities from above and get a lay of the land.
Contact Information at Home
I recommend that you take the name, address, phone & fax and e-mail information with you for people that you or the authorities may need to get in contact with. This should be on paper and should include family members, friends, doctors and hospitals and your place of employment. You should also leave with family or others you trust with information on how to contact you. This could help in a worst case scenario but it can also help if you lost a credit card or just want to make sure that you turned the gas off. See Traveling with Children below.
Customs & Immigration (This works with Document Control, below)
Make sure you keep your tickets, boarding pass and passport with you in your carry-on bag. You will need your passport to board the plane and to pass through Immigration and security checkpoints. You will not be able to get your luggage until you get through Customs Inspection. Additionally, you will need to fill-out a landing card when you land in London and coming back home. Don’t forget to take a pen. You will also need your driver’s license or other government issued ID to pass security. Not all checkpoints ask for your passport but rather your photo ID. Driver’s licenses have “things” embedded in them that can only be read by “special” equipment. Please see: Immigration & Customs (Passport Control) in the Air Travel section of this guide.
It is pretty well known that customs and immigration officials have no sense of humor. Trying to joke with them does not always go well as we have seen in the news. It is rare but an agent does bring out a smile on traveler’s faces now and then. This is a true story. I was next in line at Gatwick to be interviewed by an immigration agent. It was 6:30 in the morning and the family ahead of me was finished, but slow to exit. The agent started to push them along and asked them to keep the isle open. He said, “after all, these are the British Isles”. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the British humor that awaits you after you arrive in merry old England.
Additionally, this is a good time to make you aware of the difference between American English and British English. Americans “take a vacation” whereas the Brits “go on holiday”. If too much fun results in an injury, we go to a hospital and they go to hospital. Go figure?
Credit & Debit Card Issues
These cards were made for the traveler but make sure that they work for you. Call your service and let them know when you are going and if you plan on any big purchases at Christie’s. If you don’t travel often they may think that your ID has been thieved and deny the purchase. Actually, the bank or company that issued you your card may require this. My national bank told me that a purchase overseas could cancel your card. They can also place a limit of your spending. If your card is stolen the person will not be able to clean you out. Some cards from credit unions may not work overseas.
Prepaid cash cards (Stored-Value Cards) have been out for some time and sound like a good thing to take with you. You can buy a bunch and take one or two out on your jaunt. If they are lost or stolen you will not have to worry about loosing you back account.
Be aware of your closing dates and payment due dates. Should you be away and a payment missed you could be in for a surprise. I missed a payment on my US Airways Master Card and my account became overdue. This stopped all transactions and I was not able to use the card. There was no notification prior to my using the card, which could have led to it being retained or destroyed by a merchant. I learned about it being put on hold only after a phone call to the service center after I tried to use it at a gas pump. Once I made the payment all was back to normal. I could have made a payment with the service center over the phone but if you are overseas and without a phone or service it could be a problem.
Credit cards offer more protection on purchases that debit cards and the best way to make airline and hotel reservations. Not everyone may have access to a credit card and that would make travel a problem. Some hotels will not accept a debit card for holding a reservation.
Credit & Debit Card Transaction Fees
The U.S. Congress passed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD) Act in 2009 that tightened the rules that financial institutions must abide by so consumers are better protected from predatory institutions. But as in most U.S. laws there were “loopholes”. Financial institutions, not Mr. Webster, get to identify what a foreign transaction is when you use a credit or debit card. When you use a card outside the United States, you can pay up to 3% of the transaction to your institution as well as the institution giving you money via an ATM or cash advance. This would apply if your institution had a branch where you are obtaining your own money. Your institution needs this fee because the computer performs this conversion in one-billionth of a second.
DO NOT PAY IN U$ DOLLARS
In addition to paying a fee for your institution converting the exchange, there are other ways they can extract this fee. If you make a purchase from your home and the charge is in U.S. dollars, you can be hit with fee if the transaction goes thru a foreign bank. It is still considered a foreign transaction. Retailers overseas are offering to write your bill for goods or services in U.S. dollars and not in the local currency. This is called dynamic currency conversion. That may sound like a nice gesture on their part but it is a moneymaker for them. That means you are losing money on the deal. When a merchant charges you in dollars, they receive a fee from the bank or credit card company they are using. This fee along with the transaction fee shows up on your statement when you get back.
Credit Card Embedded Chip
So far I have had little problems using my cards overseas, but that could change for me soon. U.S. institutions are reluctant to change their cards from magnetic swipe to microchip embedded and that could be a problem for U.S. travelers overseas. The processing equipment being used looks for information in the cards. When I used my card without a chip I was asked to show photo identification. This was not a big deal with me but what would have happened had I not have photo ID? I witnessed a woman ask another woman if she would buy her a pack a cigarettes from a vending machine in Germany. The machine, which did not accept cash, reads the chip, which verifies the person’s age. Using a swipe card would not have worked. Changes are coming, for better or worse and U.S. institutions are not helping us by lagging behind advanced technology. They are also not helping travelers with abhorrent fees.
Credit Union Credit Cards
I have been told that some cards issued by Credit Unions may not work overseas. If you are new to this or haven’t traveled for a while call your bank and check out the details.
Customs & Immigration
It is important to understand both US and UK custom regulations before you leave on holiday. There are restrictions as to what you are permitted to bring into a country and severe penalties if you get caught (even if you don’t think you did anything wrong). Basically you cannot bring in dead or live animals, produce, plants or other substances that can harm the receiving country. You must also declare them on your customs declaration card.
For UK customs information, see: UK Customs
For US customs information, see: CBP.GOV
You can bring some prohibited items on a plane for your dining pleasure, but you must finish them before landing. Did you listen to your mother?
As far-fetched as this may seem, it is not uncommon for airlines and hotels to offer specials and not advertize them. Contact the service provider when planning your trip to see if they can offer something extra. Talking to a real person is the best way to make a deal. Sometimes they will give you something just to get your business. Be on your best behavior.
I have had an artificial leg since 2001 so I am keenly aware of what it is like to transverse London and the pit-falls it presents. London is a very old city and as hard as they are trying it is not very friendly to the disabled. The tube has some wheel chair access stations but buy and large you will encounter hundreds of steps and escalators. The bus is better for those in wheel chairs but they can be problematic, especially at rush hour.
As for hotels, not all of them may have lifts. My biggest problem is the bath. As older hotels are small the bath may have only a shower and no tub. I cannot take my leg in a shower so I make sure the hotel has a tub. Even so, the baths can be so small that a wheel chair will not fit into one let alone closing the door.
Access to buildings is getting much better but still don’t expect easy access to all. Many people with disabilities live and work in London and it can be done. But as a visitor you may find it more difficult than those who live there. Please do not be discouraged in going but do inquire about you hotel.
Documents for Travel – In Luggage
In addition to having a luggage tag placed on your bag I place a paper with my name and travel itinerary inside each checked bag. This can help if your bags are lost. Make several copies of your passport photo page. One should be in each bag and keep two with you. If you should lose your passport they will come in handy.
Documents for Travel – Requirements
You should have various documents with you when travelling overseas:
Passport used for immigration control (and copies of the photo page for luggage).
Government Issued Driver’s License with Photo, or
Government Issued Non-Driving License with Photo used in some security zones.
International Driver’s License can be used as a valid ID.
See Car Rental, above for more information.
See Secure Flight Program, below.
Birth Certificate Rule Change – 1 April 2011
From the US Department of State: Beginning April 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of State will require the full names of the applicant’s parent(s) to be listed on all certified birth certificates to be considered as primary evidence of U.S. citizenship for all passport applicants, regardless of age. Certified birth certificates missing this information will not be acceptable as evidence of citizenship. This will not affect applications already in-process that have been submitted or accepted before the effective date.
For more information, see 22 CFR 51.42(a).
To obtain a new birth certificate, see the Center for Desiree Control CDC website as they post links to all states where one can obtain a certificate.
In addition to this requirement, certified copies of birth certificates must also include the following information to be considered acceptable primary evidence of U.S. citizenship:
Full name of the applicant
Date of birth
Place of birth
Raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal of issuing authority
The date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office (must be within one year)
If you cannot obtain a birth certificate that meets these requirements, please see Secondary Evidence of U.S. Citizenship in the Apply for Passport section.
Work this with the 4-hour rule (above)
If you are flying to London with a stop at a connecting airport you need to schedule your time wisely. You should plan for at least an hour to transfer on you London bound flight. At least an hour and a half when returning as you will go through immigration and customs. The more time the better and more in summer. Do not rely on the airline’s website to allow for this. Just because they can land you it does not mean they allow for the transfer time. Remember too that your incoming flight can be delayed in departure or landing. Expect the unexpected. See the US Airways document in this guide for more information.
I came back into the states once with a lot of time before my fight to Pittsburgh. I was able to fly standby on an earlier flight but my luggage was in the system to go with my scheduled flight. I took the standby flight. I would rather wait near my car rather than across the state. I was also able to drive back to the airport the next day to retrieve my luggage. This may not be a bad option if you live or work near the airport.
See the Flight Calculator segment in the US Airways document for more.
Make sure that you will not run out of you medication, notify the post office, feed the cat and check your utility bills. I pay mine by check (yes, still, and with a stamp too) and this could present problems. Not the stamp, but the pay date. I have been gone for three weeks at times and some of my bills have arrived and became past due before I came home. Make these issues a part of your holiday planning.
I have more on this in another document. If you happen to land in London without a place to stay do not worry. Finding a hotel in London is as easy as finding a coffee shop. Train stations and travel centers are good places to start as they can help you find a place and make the reservation for you.
London Planner – Visit Britain
London Planner is the British Tourist Authority’s official monthly guide to London. This is their worldwide access page and this is the page for the United States. You can contact one of their British travel experts toll-free at 1 (800) 462-2748 (US), 1 (888) VISIT UK (Canada), Monday – Friday from 9am to 5pm EST. Alternatively, you can direct your questions and comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and receive a personalized response.
For London Planner: http://www.visitlondon.com/maps/guides/london-planner. Copies of London Planner are distributed across the UK and in London. The places are listed on their site.
This page has information on transport passes; the London Travel card and the London Oyster Card. The information they have is good and you can buy cards for different zones. Some outlets only provide for all zones. However, the information they give for the Oyster is with respect to the pay-as-you-go scheme. The visit london page has Travel with Oyster, which explains the travel card marriage with Oyster. The travelcard page has good information.
They have a London kit for about $118 (as of October 2009), which seems to be good for visitors. This is for one adult ticket.
The first rule in luggage is that you carry what you pack. The second rule is be prepared to loose what you pack. Essential medication and documents should also be carried with you. Unless you are on an extended stay, try to pack it all in one bag. I tend to pack light and visit a launderette during my stay. Coordinate cloths so that you can mix and match so that you are not bringing the entire shoe ensemble. The jury is still out in my opinion as to folding or rolling cloths for packing. I do place socks and underwear in zip-lock bags and small things such as tubes of hand lotion inside extra shoes.
Affix a good luggage tag to the outside of all of your pieces of luggage. Do the same to the same to the inside of the bags. Should your bags get lost and the tag is torn off, you will have your name and address on the inside. I always include my cell phone number on each tag. It is also a good idea to place a copy of the photo age of your passport along with an itinerary inside your bags. This helps in the return of lost bags.
I bring a small kit with me (in checked luggage) such as small scissors, paper clips, rubber bands (gum bands if you’re from Pittsburgh) clear tape, spoon, knife, fork (for eating in) tea bags/Splenda, extra pens/pencils, and other day-to-day items that may come in handy. I place them in a clear plastic child’s pencil case so they do not damage other things or inspector’s hands. It does not add much weight and I can’t tell you how many times I have used scissors overseas in a hotel room.
For most tourist or short stay business travelers this may not the better way to go but it is an option worth looking into. There are pros and cons to this. You may have to drop your luggage off days before at a drop-off site. The receiving hotel should also be called to see if they will accept your luggage ahead of you and what the storage fee is. I am staying neutral on this but further information is available on the web. Should anyone have done this I would be interested in your thoughts.
Please be aware of the size and weight restrictions imposed by your carrier. In addition, be aware of the size of the planes you will be carried on. If you are on a small plane such as an express flight used to get your overseas departure city your overhead will be smaller than what is on the overseas flight. Consequently, what will fit one plane may not fit on the other. It would be good to look into this before you pack.
General rule for travel to Europe:
Checked bags should not exceed 50 lbs (22 kg) or a charge may be applied. Beware that overweight bags may not be allowed. Overweight bags should not exceed 70 lbs (31 kg) and may be prohibited from travel. Check with your carrier. Remember; you pack it, you lug it.
Cary-on bags should not exceed 40 lbs (18 kg).
1 kg = 2.2 lbs.
I was going to place this in a different document but you may want to mail something over. Addressing envelopes for overseas delivery is pretty much the same as sending a birthday card across town. The one difference in sending mail across the pond is that you need to tell the post office what country the mail is going to. Address mail as shown below and remember, the country must be on the last line by itself. This is required when sending mail to overseas no matter what country you are in.
City, Post Code
The name of the county must be the last line. This applies to mail leaving the UK, so write USA under the City, State, Zip line.
You may want to make arrangements to have British pounds when you arrive. I find it easier to just withdraw money from an airport ATM. If you desire local currency upon arrival you can use third party vendors such as Travelex. You can get cash sent to you or visit your local AAA office. They are free of fees and shipping is free for orders over $1000 USD. They also have Travelex CashPax and cost $100 USD per bundle. They convert the exchange for you and you receive the cash in GBP. Call 1-866-339-3378 for home orders Money dispensing machines in UK airports are also dispensing Euro notes as well and Great British Pounds.
Go to http://www.a-zmps.co.uk and see digital maps for use with laptops, PDA’s and phones and the tablets.
Your passport should have you full legal name and that should be the same as you use when you order your airline tickets. If there is a noticeable discrepancy you could be delayed and questioned at checkpoints or boarding. Once you get squared away in your hotel, you are not required to carry your passport with you. You may need to show photo ID for financial transactions or paying with a credit card. Your driver or non-driver’s ID will do. This may be moot some day very soon but merchants are using new card swipes that read a microchip embedded in the card. Some US issued cards may not have the chip, which prompts the ID request.
When you enter the UK as a typical American tourist you are permitted to stay for up to six months. If you plan of staying longer or engage in some sort of work or business you will need a visa. This may take some time so you should plan well ahead. See the document, UK Embassy in America.
Visa Requirements for US Citizens
US citizens traveling outside the United States require a passport to enter other counties and to re-enter the United States. To enter other counties on business or pleasure you may need a visa. Travisa (http://www.travisa.com/travelvisa.htm) is a third-party non-government company that has a list of countries indicating visa requirements. Travisa offers passport services for a fee. They are noted here as a reference and without endorsement.
A visa is a document that allows a person to enter a county.
When you enter a foreign county or return to your home country, your passport is stamped, which allows you to enter. That is a visa. When it is said that you “need” a visa you need to have the visa placed in your passport before you leave. To do this you need to send your passport along with forms and payment to the embassy (within your country) for the country you wish to enter. It will be returned. If a country requires a vise to enter and you do not have one you will be denied entry and will be back on the next flight home. A visa is not required for US citizens to visit England or Ireland. Before you visit any country you need to find out if an entry visa is required. This Project Visa site is another resource that can help you. This process could take a long time so inquire as far ahead as possible.
Passport Information in Pittsburgh
The County of Allegheny has information on their website about applying for a new or renewed passport. The site is: http://www.alleghenycounty.us/cofc/pass.aspx. The office was housed in the County Court House until late summer of 2008. It is now located in the City-County building next to the Marriage License office. You will need to pass through a metal detector when you enter the building.
Secure Flight Program
This is a program instituted by the Transportation and Security Administration that requires airlines to collect and provide to the TSA passenger data such as I.D. date of birth, gender and Redress Number (is applicable). You can read more on the TSA site for Secure Fight.
You need to be aware of what may come your way during your journey. You may be faced with restrictions and prohibitions going through airports and aircraft. It would be a good idea to check the government web sites listed in this work as well as you airline or other travel providers. The US Government continues to have issues with liquids on board aircraft and have or may issue further notices.
Liquids and creams are only permitted past checkpoints in full-unopened containers not to exceeding 3.4 ounces (100ml) Empty or partially full bottles are prohibited.
As of January 1, 2008, lithium batteries are not permitted in checked luggage unless installed in a device. Spare lithium batteries can be brought thru in your carry-on bag. The concern with these in checked bags is that they could short out and cause a fire. A major US electronics retailer had old batteries (albeit not just one kind) in a glass container on the counter for customer drop-off. They didn’t play well together and a heated fire broke out burning down the store. See the TSA website for this and more up-dates. A local recycling center requires battery terminals to be taped at each end with any kind of tape before dropping off.
Most airlines permit one carry-on bag and one personal item such as a laptop or purse. If you are traveling thru Gatwick Airport, South Terminal (US Airways does) you may want to check Gatwick’s website for carry-on bag restrictions. In early 2008 the airport was limiting one piece per passenger but this was one piece of carry on and one separate handbag.
When you enter many public (museums, etc.) or private buildings in London you may be asked to remove the contents of you coat and you hand bags may be inspected. I once viewed art in the Canadian Embassy in London and had to pass through a metal detector to gain entry.
Traveler’s Redress Program (& number)
This program is for people who have been:
-Denied or delayed airline boarding.
-Have been denied or delayed entry into or exit from the U.S. at a port of entry or border crossing.
-Have been repeatedly sent to additional (secondary) screening.
You can file an inquiry to seek redress.
A Redress Control Number is a unique number that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assigns to individuals who uses the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP). Under the Secure Flight program, these individuals will use the Redress Number in future correspondence with DHS and when making future travel reservations with airlines.
Known Traveler Number
Is a unique number issued by DHS to those who participate in a voluntary program designed to expedite security screening for passengers who are willing to provide biometric and other data, and undergo a security threat assessment. This program may not be fully functional at this time. Information on this program can be found from the DHS or your airline when program is put in place.
Airlines are updating their reservation process to accept the Redress Control Number and the Known Traveler Number. Not having either of these will not stop you from making a reservation.
Some people take out insurance and others do not. What do you have to loose and what is it worth to you. Airlines have responsibilities to you but only if the fault is their. If you opt for insurance think about getting it from a third party. If your tour group offers it and goes under you policy is also sunk. Should you get a policy from a third party make sure that it pays if your tour company defaults.
Traveling with Children
If you are a single parent or grand parent and traveling with young children you may want to have additional information with you. Authorities are showing more awareness towards parents kidnapping one of their own from a separated spouse. You may have to prove the identity of your child, especially if he or she has a different last name. Grandparents and other family members may want to take note of this. You may want to have a written letter from the other parent. With today’s computers you may want to place a photo of both parents and children on a document (with signatures) and have it notarized. Don’t forget contact information such as phone numbers of the grandparents.
The TSA has a page all about Traveling with Kids.
Free Public Transport in London
Students and children may be able to travel on public transport for reduced fares or for free. Transport for London has information on this starting on their ticket page.
Play Areas for Children
There are many public playgrounds in central London that I know of. As I am single I never really thought about them. But there are two that I do know about and they differ from most playgrounds that are not typical of most. These parks are strictly for children and their parents or guardians. No adult can enter without a child. Many of London’s Squares also have play areas for children of a specific age group. They too are prohibited for adults without their own children of that age group.
Coram Field is a large park in Bloomsbury for children. It is near Russell Square Tube and Great Ormond Street Hospital for children and the Institute of Child Health.
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground
This GoLondon site has addition details and directions. This information: The Diana Memorial Playground is staffed at all times during opening hours. For safety reasons, entry is only permitted to children 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult. Unaccompanied children or adults without children will not be admitted. Visitors without children can view the playground between 09:30 – 10:00 a.m. seven days a week. The notice at the Playground entrance also lists restrictions on smoking, alcohol, glass bottles, etc. within the playground, was written by Travelsignposts.com.
I hope to expand this part in future but I found this interesting website that parents and kids should enjoy. Activity Village is a UK site that is not so much for tourist but visitors can enjoy this even from your own home.
Aquarium, Zoo & Film
The London Aquarium is on the South Bank near the London Eye SE1.
The zoo is located in Regents Park NW1.
British Film Institute has movies at the IMAX and Southbank for kids.
Please be advised that London can be expensive and ticket prices can be higher than what you may be used to back home.
Toy Libraries for Children
This may not be a tourist attraction but I have to post this as it is so interesting, Toy libraries can be found for the
Toy Libraries from the City of London government
National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries
Toy Library in Lewisham
Toy Library in Pimlico from Visit London
Story from Families Online.co.uk
Do a Google search to seek further.
Traveling with Children Story
This is a true story. Years ago, my buddy and his wife were traveling across several states to visit relatives. They had their 2 year old with them. They could not figure why state troopers were following them but once surrounded they were forced to a stop on the side of the road. The troopers separated them from the child and grilled them as to the identity of the little girl. They had no proof that the child was theirs, nobody answered phones back home and the child gave the wrong answer. She had a shirt from Disney Land but said it was from Disney World. My friends were off to jail. After being grilled on the side of the road for a long time, a supervisor came and asked the same questions. They were in the state that the wife was born and where they were married. The trooper knew the small town where she was from and the pastor’s name. He also knew that outsiders could never pronounce the pastor’s name correctly. After a short chat they were free to go. They were not told what prompted the pullover but they think somebody called in a missing child report at a rest stop.
Most bookstores have a lot of good information that you can read before you go. A good magazine is TIME OUT LONDON. It has everything going on in London for a one-week period starting on Wednesday. They are sold everywhere in London and most bookstores in the states, albeit hard to find here most times.