London! That beautiful, giant, confusing maze-like city. Throughout the year, more than 200,000 migrants make their way here, and if you’re researching surviving London, you’re probably thinking of becoming one. Or, you’re already here, in which case, Welcome Amigo!
Yes, wine is essential to surviving London.
Living in London is quite a learning curve for anyone, whether you’re coming from somewhere else in the UK or all the way from Australia. Surviving London is a whole other story though. I’m fast approaching my one year anniversary of living in London, so I thought I’d share some of the must haves I actually own and use for surviving London. I love this city, and I hope every day that time will stop turning for me, and my visa will never expire. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy place to live, so I hope these items help you too (and as always, feel free to reach out!)
Citymapper is honestly, a godsend. I recommend even tourists download it, immediately after stepping off that plane (or you know, before you even get on it if you think ahead on these things). Citymapper is an app (isn’t everything?) and it’s actually available in a lot of cities, not just in London. More reliable than Google Maps, it provides accurate, real-time transport options from walking, to cycling to Tubes. It takes into account train strikes (a real issue in London), and even has an option to set alerts for line delays and outages for your local stations. With “Train Only” or “Rain Safe” options, Citymapper will get you where you need to go. Honestly, I’m not even an affiliate for Citymapper (call me), it’s just that useful. You can also program your “Home” address into the app, and then in the middle of the night after a few stupidly overpriced drinks you just hit “Get Me Home”. That’s saved me many times.
We use our phones for everything in general, but when it comes to surviving London, your phone is essential. Just make sure you hold onto it with both hands, and step into doorways when checking for directions (that’s not a joke, but a genuine tip – the snatch and run type of thievery is super common).
There’s so many amazing photo opportunities in London, you don’t want to miss one because your battery died!
When I’m out exploring and site-seeing, or I just know I’m going to be taking a lot of photos, I make sure I have my Anker Power Bank battery pack on me. It’s super reliable, and has about 2.5 charges in it for my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, so it’s also great for travelling. It’s compact so it fits in your purse, and they have a great warranty policy. My first one recently broke while using it and I had a brand new (free) replacement in my hands in four days – I am all about great customer service.
Wherever you used to live you probably never thought about how much you drive everywhere. Well let me tell you, not only is owning a car outrageously expensive in London, 9 times out of 10, you’ll get there faster by walking or cycling. I drove everywhere in Brisbane, so the first couple of weeks in London my legs and shins were constantly sore while they got use to carrying me everywhere again. So I am not kidding when I say you need good, comfy sneakers. I have quite a collection now, but my favourites are definitely Superga’s. Italian made sneakers in a wide range of colours, the stores in Westfield and at Camden Market will also do custom design painting on them for you! I have these ones in blue and I’m one pay cheque away from getting white and black as well…
Can you believe I never wore sneakers except to the gym before I moved to London?
A Strong Umbrella
I’ll admit it took me about 6 or so months to get a good umbrella. I must have broken at least 4 of them, and I definitely lost one of my housemates after an evening out, before I decided to invest. I wanted one that was strong because there’s nothing worse than struggling to keep your umbrella the right way in while it’s pouring down. I can’t even count how many umbrellas I’ve seen broken on the side of the road or sticking out of bins since moving here. So after a bit of research I settled on this one and I’ve turned into a broken record talking about it. All of these things sound like sales pitches but I swear to god, I just love this umbrella. It’s got 9 ribs, it’s wind resistant up to 87MPH and it’s made from Teflon so it dries fast. A warning though – it’s a little heavy. If you’re taking it in a suitcase just keep that in mind. I like it though, because it feels like having a weapon on me when I’m walking down the street, and that button to open the umbrella packs a punch.
Heavy Duty Hand Cream
I have pretty aggressive eczema, especially in cold, windy environments, so it’s probably not a surprise that I need a strong hand cream for surviving London. Truth time, I am actually supposed to have a prescription cream with lots of steroids in it for my hands, but I ran out of it pretty early on. I don’t have a doctor here, and I’m lazy so I had to turn to store-bought creams. Because my skin is a constant source of disappointment I had to try a lot of brands that shall not be named who caused a variety of reactions, from worsening the situation through to causing an out-and-out allergic reaction. Finally after a friend’s recommendation, I found The Body Shop’s Hemp Hand Protector, and Hallelujah, I’d been saved. So gross over-sharing of my skin conditions aside, I can’t recommend this cream enough. I use it on every dry patch I have, on my arms and on my legs, everywhere except my face because, you guessed it, I have a different special cream for that! I don’t even need my prescription any more!
So what do you think?
What are your tips for surviving London? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
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