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a VirtualTourist member


Help Please!

I am planning a trip to London with one of my close girlfriends. We are both 18 and want to know the best way to carry money and ID and the safest ways to travel and the safest of everything. Can anyone help me?

17 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Phoenix

in any travel, I distibute my money in different places, along with my cards...different pockets, different parts of my luggage, and I always have those nice thin money wallets that you can put around your waist, hidden from view under your pants :) organization, organization....and keeping your wits about u at all times :)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Phoenix

also, make sure you have a photocopy of your ID and passport in a different part of your luggage....

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chicago

I've traveled to London many times by myself and I've never had a problem. Some things you might be aware of:

try and book a hotel that is central and close to a bus or tube station in case you come back later in the evening

opinions vary but I have never had the need to carry my passport with me, carry a copy if you feel you must but leave your original somewhere safe in your room. Some people make a copy and store it on their email for easy access anywhere.

do not leave your purse on the back of your chair or on the table. I don't actually even carry one but if you must do not leave it unattended and pay particular attention to it if you have to stand on the tube or bus

ATM-if you need to get money out, make sure you are in a well lit, high traffic place. Don't do it at a stand alone ATM at a store, make sure it's attached to a bank.

Some people use money belts, I never have but I do make sure that I'm not carrying a huge amount of money, that we distribute it between the two of us, never carry it in a pocket that we can't see (ie back pockets are prime pickpocketing targets). If it's cooler out, I carry it in an inside pocket, Columbia has winter and rain coats with zipped inside pockets

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Monterrey

hey Ashton,

a good thing is, as has been said, never keep everything in one place. Distribute your valuables. In a city like London I don't think it is necessary to carry around a large amount of cash. Most places will accept plastic and there are bound to be ATM machines to "refill your cash". And keep your head cool. Think positive. That way you'll avoid to show a behaviour that'll mark you as a possible target.
And most of all...have fun!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Calabasas

As for petty theft, tourists are easy targets as we are often distracted, not only with the new sites but also just trying to figure out where we are and where we want to go. Hence many of the precautions mentioned above. I usually carry no more than 200-300 dollars/pounds/euros on me at any time and most of those are stashed in a secure location under the front of my pants. I keep 20 or so in my wallet that has a cable securing it to me belt. When not in use my camera is in a heavy duty camera bag around my neck and shoulders in front of me. Backpacks are easy pickings and purses slung on the side. Valuables on chairs or tables or in hanging purses behind you are often gone in a second. But once you have the routine it won't be a burden as it first seems.
Personal - make sure you know where you are going and how to get back. If you get stuck, go to a local hotel and have them call a taxi. Ask the clerk or concierge at the desk where the areas are that you should avoid. Ten years ago it used to be the area around Kings Cross.
There are several good female VT members who have great information for women travelers. Unfortunately it has been a while since I visited their pages....;-(

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Puerto Princesa

I also have never had a problem in London but know a few people who have been robbed, usually pickpocketed. I always have a hidden pocket sewn on the insides of my jeans and wear a belt, and for sure it has to be an extremely clever thief who would manage to steal anything from there, as it is next to impossible. Many people wear these huge money belts around their waste with their money, passport, credit cards camera etc, but never do this as it is like saying to the thief "here are all my valuables, come and get me!"

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Germany

You've got very good advice already, let me add one more tip: Don't get drunk.If you go clubbing, watch how much you drink and watch your drinks, to make sure that nothing is added.
Know when to stop. Someone who's drunk is an easy target anywhere in the world.
Enjoy London.

answered by
Mary Smith from Leicester

I travel as a solo middle-aged female and take the same precautions when I visit London as I take anywhere else.

The main 'dangers' are of pickpocketing and petty theft, so use common sense city precautions and stay alert.

I don't know if I'm one of the female members Norman mentioned but my advice about safety is here (point 9):

[original VT link]

  • As Davidjo notes, fanny-packs/bum-bags are not in any way safe. They are not worn as a norm by Europeans (other than cyclists) I have said many times on this forum...they simply scream 'I'm a tourist and all my valuables are right here!'. They are easy to steal and easy to steal from.
  • Keep most of your cash, cards and documents in the hotel safe. That includes your passports: the UK does not require you to carry ID. However, you may need age ID to enter clubs or buy alcohol in pubs, supermarkets etc. A photocopy of your passport should be sufficient for this or, if you have one, you might prefer to carry your photo driving licence (if you have one). It's much less hassle to lose your licence than your passport.

Take with you only what you will need for the day. Keep most of it underneath your clothes (I have a soft fabric coin purse which ties around my waist) and only keep a small amount in your bag/pockets.

  • London public transport is safe and used by everyone but take more care if travelling late at night. On buses late at night sit downstairs and near the driver. On the Tube, make sure you get into carriages where there are several other people.
  • Avoid badly-lit and deserted places late at night. If somewhere 'feels' wrong, listen to your instincts and turn the other way.
  • Take heed of Christine's advice about alcohol. It is good advice.
  • Do not get into 'minicabs' which are touting for custom outside clubs, pubs etc. There are some illegal operators.

The only taxis legally allowed to tout for custom (that is, stand around waiting) are the black cab. Other taxis ('minicabs') must be called by phone. If you plan to be out late it would be sensible to ask your accomm for the phone numbers of recommended minicab firms or, failing that, ask the place you are at to call you a taxi.

London is no more a 'dangerous' place than any large European city and is considerably safer than many. So you don't need to be actively worried but you *do* need to take sensible precautions about your personal safety and your valuables, just as you would when visiting any large city.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Hertfordshire

As far as major capital cities go, London is pretty safe and the likelihood of you, as a tourist, wandering some of the less salubrious areas is very slim.
As in all large cities precaution & awareness is always key, especially against theft. I would not recommend a rucksack out of sight on your back.... That lind of thing!
You are not required to carry ID about your person so, if you have aroom with a safe - use it!
Everywhere excepts credit cards so the need for oodles of cash about you at all times is small. There are also plenty of banks & cash machines.

answered by
Mary Smith from Leicester

A caveat to the 'everywhere accepts credit cards' comment. Whilst that is the case, you will find that some places (especially smaller shops) do have lower limits. they won't for example, accept card payment for bills of less than e.g. 5GBP. So do make sure you have some cash on you as well as your card/s.

You don't say where you are from but if your cads do not have chip & PIN you will almost certainly find they will not be accepted by automated machines (e.g. for tickets) other than ATMs. Although chip & PIN has long been the norm in Europe 'swipe & sign' technology still exists, so you should have no problems using unchipped cards in other circumstances (except where there is a minimum payment limit).

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Ealing

Everyone has given such good advice already. I have lived in London for over 50 years and travel almost daily on my own, including often at night, and have never had a problem, but that doesn't mean it's 100% safe - no city is that, let alone one the size of London. But if you follow all the sensible precautions suggested above you should be fine.

I agree with those who have said that pickpockets are probably the most likely threat, and although I've never been targeted I have several friends who have. Make sure you have a bag that can be closed, and keep it closed when in crowded places, especially on Underground trains. Also, keep hold of it - a bag that goes across your body is better int hatrespect than one that sits on your shoulder. Don't get paranoid, but do be conscious of those around you and watch for odd behaviour such as hands getting too close to other people's possessions - you could be next. If you are worried by anyone else on the Tube (Underground) get off at the next station and move to another carriage (you should have time) where there are other people.

Staying somewhere central is helpful too. The trains get quieter at night the futher out of the city they go, so you will always have plenty of people around if you stay centrally. You COULD take a cab if worried at night but these are expensive and I've never felt the need to do so.

As others have said, there's no need to carry your passport (ID isn't regularly requested here, but when it is, a photocopy would suffice - at your age you will probably need this in order to buy alcoholic drinks). And don't carry large sums of money either. Have at least two bank cards and keep them in separate places - carry one each, don't let one of you be the only one with cards and money.

If you are walking on the street and are concerned about anyone nearby or following you, go into a restaurant, pub, hotel, shop - any business in fact - and either simply wait for a while till the person has disappeared or if really worried, ask for help (calling a cab for instance). And talking of cabs, only the black "London" taxis are allowed to pick up fares on the street, so if any driver of an ordinary car says it is a taxi and he/she will drive you anywhere, refuse to get in and if there is one in sight, tell a policeman - the driver is breaking the law and probably up to no good. Mincabs (as these ordinary cars are called) CAN however take fares when pre-booked, so if your hotel or some other establishment calls a taxi firm for you and one turns up it is almost certainly OK - but ask to see their license if at all worried.

Really though, don't worry too much and let that spoil your holiday. Make plans in advance to stay safe, and then focus on enjoying the trip. London is a wonderful city so do get out there and explore!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Basildon


A few commons sense tips for any place you are traveling to. London is pretty safe but...

If you are using back packs to get your stuff around in, don't store anything valuable in them. I have seen people stand on the tube (underground, metro) and reach behind themselves to grab out a phone or i-pod. If you have to reach behind you to get something, then someone else can just as easily get to it without you seeing. Backpacks are also an easy target for anyone with a knife, slit the bottom and see what comes out...

Wear a handbag that crosses your body from one should to the opposite hip, with the flap towards your body (says he that is male!). Bag snatchers and sneak thieves want an easy target and wearing this type of bag makes it kinda hard for them to get away with anything

If you are going to a strange venue (night club, show, even your hotel the first time), make sure that you know which way to turn when you leave. London streets are not all in straight lines and it can be all to easy on a dark night (probably with a drink or two in you) to go in the wrong direction and find yourself in an area which is not too savoury.

For London travel, get an Oyster travel card and keep it seperate to your purse. Not only will it make it easier for you to travel around but if you do lose your purse, at least you can still get back to your hotel!

If you take a bit of care, London is safe and a great place to visit. Wishing you the very best for holiday


answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Chicago

You've received a lot of extra helpful advice, I absolutely agree with christine about the drinking seeing as you are young ladies. If you are going to go pubbing or clubbing, try and stay near where you are going to go out at night so it's a quick walk back to your lodgings. Keep an eye on your drinks to make sure no one spikes them and don't drink too much, probably not a bad idea regardless of where you are :-)

Like Sarah, I've never felt the need to take a taxi in London but it's always an option if you don't feel you can make it back on your own. When I travel by myself, I try to make sure my hotel is on a main street and that I don't have to access it by walking down side streets. I also don't wear headphones when walking by myself as that makes it easier for someone to surprise me, of course you wouldn't do that when traveling with a friend.

I've never had trouble using my swipe credit card in London, even at automated machines. Paris, yes, London no. But still it's good to have a way to get cash (ATM card) and carry a modest amount of cash with you for smaller purchases.

One more thing, I don't know if this has happened in London but in Chicago there have been some incidents where people have had their iphones or similar devices snatched from them at transit stations. Try not to take out money while on the streets and try not to be so absorbed in your iphone etc that you are not paying attention to what is going on around you.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Ealing

Yes, I have heard some instances of phones being snatched while being used - and the "smarter" the phone the more likely it is to attract such attention. Good advice to always leave a bit of your attention to your surroundings, especially in crowded places

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Albufeira

If you really must have a phone on the street, buy a £20 one you can afford to lose. Leave the £300 smartphone in the room safe.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from London

Keep photocopies of your passports and visas in your luggage and if you can handbag. I always do this as a safety measure. If you are students, you may want to get the ISIC card, you can get some discounts too with it and it has your date of birth and photo which acts as an ID. Money, if you can get an international debit card, nothing like it, so u can withdraw money as and when you need.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Perth

Prior to Leaving

Travel insurance - a must
Check with your bank to see if they have affiliated banks in the UK/Europe, an ATM transaction can cost up to $5/6aud for every withdrawal. An affiliated bank costs nothing.
Advise the banks you will be traveling overseas, if you dont they will put a hold on your card after the first transaction.
Visa currency fees appear to be cheaper than Mastercard, be mindful when using plastic.
Make sure your card password is acceptable for overseas ATM's
Send a copy of your Itinerary/ insurance, passport page etc to your closest friends/ Family.
If taking your phone, set up Global roaming which means you can use your phone overseas.In Australia we have to or it doesn't work.

When Abroad

Turn off Data Roaming on your phone, unless you feel like paying a fortune when you get back home - look for Wifi, McDonalds usually has free wifi. It is important to understand that when you download through your phone overseas. it is costing a fortune, hence wifi.I use Skype when travelling, check out other variations.
Use your phone to take a picture of your passport page and other documents, insurance etc
I use the app My Flights to track my airline flights - very good app.
Exchange rate app probably wouldn't hurt either.

Finally don't do drugs or get smashed, that goes for anywhere in the world!

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