Whether you’re an experienced international traveler, you’ve never left the country before or you’re somewhere in between, you might be considering taking your family on a vacation overseas. This can be a terrific opportunity to expose your kids to a new culture, but it can be tough to figure out where to go first. Should you choose a resort in Thailand, where you can lie on the beach all day?
Maybe you should go for someplace closer to home, like Mexico, or perhaps you’re attracted to the glamour of a place like Paris. In fact, London is a terrific choice for a first family trip abroad. It’s still a foreign country, but it all feels somewhat familiar, making it an easier introduction than some other places. Language, cost, ease of getting around, the variety of activities and the proximity of other countries all make it a good choice as well.
They Speak English
English is widely spoken throughout the world, particularly in places where tourists are common, but in London, you won’t have to deal with the language barrier. This can be a big relief when you’re trying to navigate around the city, order in restaurants or book hotels. It also means that theater performances, museum placards and anything else you encounter will be in English, giving you more options for things to do. If you are using this vacation to recover from burnout not having to troubleshoot a language barrier can be extremely helpful. At the same time, London is a hugely diverse city, with many different cultures represented. The Brick Lane Markets, including the Food Hall, give you the opportunity to try foods or purchase items with origins from all over the world.
No one would ever call London a cheap destination, but the dollar is strong against the pound, and you can still find plenty of bargains throughout the city, particularly if you go at a time other than summer. There are often cheap flights to the city, especially compared with other destinations in Europe. Museums are free, bed and breakfasts or discount hotels offer great accommodation options and transportation around the city is inexpensive. If you’re looking at the shortfalls your budget and it’s still not going to cover the cost of your trip to London, you might want to consider a personal loan as an alternative to using your credit card. You can review the pros and cons of personal loans to decide if this is the right option for you.
The city’s subway system, affectionately known as the Tube, is easy to understand, and there are also plenty of other transportation options, including easy-to-use buses and overground rail. Rather than purchasing individual tickets for each trip, look to other options, such as contactless pay, Oyster cards, or travel cards.
There’s Plenty to Do
It simply isn’t possible for your family to run out of things to do during a vacation in London. There is truly something for everyone, whether you love theater, outdoor recreation, shopping, music, museums, history, food, and just about anything else. Children’s theater is both thriving and affordable, giving you the opportunity to introduce your kids to the spectacle of live musicals and plays. Kids can see real Egyptian mummies at the British Museum. Major tourist attractions have plenty to interest the little ones as well. At the Tower of London, they can spot the seven ravens who live there and keep the kingdom from falling. Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath are two of the best parks to visit with families.
Foreign Day Trips
If you want to get your feet wet in a slightly more challenging environment than London but without spending your whole vacation there, Paris is just three hours away by Eurostar. Amsterdam is just under four hours away, and Brussels is less than two. The train journey is an adventure in and of itself, and you can enjoy a few hours in a new city and be back in London that same night, or you can spend a single night and leave the following morning. You can book inexpensive Eurostar tickets well in advance and enjoy the scenery, the food, and the excitement of traveling under the ocean to visit another country. This can set the stage for a future international adventure in a place where English isn’t spoken, and situations are a little more challenging.