Millions of people visit London each year because it is a dynamic and busy city. While being a tourist is totally acceptable, there are times when you'd like to fit in and have a local's perspective of the place. Here are some pointers and techniques to help you avoid standing out as a tourist in London and enjoy your time there.
Don the local look.
The secret to dressing like a native in London is to keep it basic and uncomplicated. Instead of wearing garish or loud attire, use muted hues like black, grey, and navy. A trench coat, a leather jacket, or a pair of black jeans are common wardrobe staples for Londoners. If you're unsure of what to dress, look to the locals and note their fashion choices. Moreover, if you're visiting London in the winter, remember to pack warm clothing, including a coat, scarf, and comfy shoes.
Observe good manners.
As a guest, it's crucial to observe the manners and courtesy that Londoners are recognised for (stop sniggering other brits!). While engaging with locals, always use the polite words "please" and "thank you," and refrain from interrupting or shouting out loud in public. Be considerate of other passengers and avoid obstructing pedestrian traffic when utilising public transportation. Don't be hesitant to ask for clarification if necessary; Londoners are willing to assist and will appreciate your attempt to fit in.
Use public transit
London has a comprehensive public transportation network that includes the bus, overground trains, riverboats, and the tube (subway). Taking public transportation is a terrific way to explore a city like a local, in addition to being practical and economical. Get an Oyster card, a reusable smart card that you can top up with travel credit, to get the most out of your trip. You won't have to purchase separate tickets for each journey, saving you time and money. Moreover, make sure to look for updates or delays to your planned route on the Transport for London website or app.
Go off-the-beaten-path exploring
While there are numerous well-known landmarks and tourist attractions in London, there are also many undiscovered treasures that are just waiting to be found. You may see a different aspect of the city and escape the tourist crowds by veering off the main path. Go around the lovely gardens of Hampstead Heath, peruse the antique shops in Camden, or check out the street art in Shoreditch. You can also visit some of London's lesser-known museums and art galleries, such the Whitechapel Gallery or the Sir John Soane's Museum.
Eat like a local
Dine like a local London is a fusion of cultures and cuisines, offering a wide range of dining options. Avoid chain eateries and fast food outlets and choose independent cafés and restaurants to avoid appearing like a tourist. Explore international food by trying Indian curries, Vietnamese pho, or Lebanese mezze, or try traditional British fare like fish and chips, shepherd's pie, or a full English breakfast. Indulge in afternoon tea, a classic British custom that normally consists of tea, scones, and finger sandwiches. Of course, don't forget to do so.
You're braver than us if you try the local 'jellied eels' though!
Study the language
London's natives frequently employ slang and colloquialisms that may be strange to visitors even though English is the city's official language. Learn some typical British slang words like "cheers" (thank you), "buddy" (friend), and "loo" to avoid standing out like a sore thumb (toilet). Also, you should become familiar with some fundamental words from other languages, such as "merci" (which means "thank you") and "gracias" (which means "thank you" in Spanish), in case you run across someone who don't know English.
Extra points if you can get one or two of these in during your visit: -
|Bob's your uncle||Everything is sorted/good to go|
|Chuffed||Pleased or proud|
|Dodgy||Suspicious or unreliable|
|Fancy dress||Costume party|
|Gobsmacked||Amazed or shocked|
|Lost the plot||Gone crazy or lost control|
|Miffed||Irritated or annoyed|
|Mum's the word||Keep it a secret|
|Nosh||Food or a meal|
|On the pull||Trying to pick up someone romantically|
|Sorted||Resolved or taken care of|
|Taking the mickey/mick||Teasing or making fun of someone|
Be aware of cultural variations
London is a multicultural city with a diversified population from all over the world. Be aware of cultural differences and practices in order to avoid offending or alienating natives. Avoid snacking or drinking on the tube or bus, for instance, as it is considered impolite in some cultures. Respect religious traditions as well by covering your head and taking off your shoes in some places of worship, for example. And don't be afraid to ask questions if you have any questions regarding any traditions or practises. In general, Londoners are friendly and eager to share their culture with visitors.
Stay safe from crime
As any major metropolis, London has its share of criminal activity. Despite the fact that the city is generally safe, it is crucial to take security measures. Here are some recommendations for preventing crime:
- Avoid going for a solo stroll alone at night, away from busy areas or in dimly lit locations.
- Keep your valuables, like your wallet and phone, hidden and in a secure location.
- Keep an eye out for any strange activity and be mindful of your surroundings.
- Keep your bag close by while using public transit, and be on the lookout for pickpockets.
- Avoid carrying a lot of cash on you, and only use ATMs that are near busy, well-lit places.
- Choose authorised black cabs or reputed ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft if you must employ a taxi.
- Report any crime you are the victim of to the police right away.
You can protect your safety and have a stress-free journey to London by taking some easy precautions.
In conclusion, London is a vibrant, cultural city that you can experience like a local by using the advice provided here. Use common sense, behave properly, get around on foot, eat like a local, learn the language, respect other cultures, dress like a local, and you'll avoid getting into trouble. By doing this, you'll be less obvious as a visitor and have a greater understanding of this wonderful city and its inhabitants.