Today marks three weeks in the UK! We spent the first five days in London, and we loved it. The weather was perfect, the crowds were nonexistent, and we made lots of friends. Here’s what we did and what we learned about traversing London with four children (including a baby and a two year old).
The first two days of our trip were spent in Heathrow and Dublin airports due to a missed connection. (It’s a long story, but due to our original plans to spend the first month in Ireland, which fell through, and because of the amazing ticket price we found to Dublin, we were supposed to fly into Dublin with a layover in London, and then take a one-way flight right back to London. A missed connection in London, however, caused us to spend Day 1 in Heathrow sorting it out and Day 2 flying from London to Dublin and back to London–because American Airlines will cancel your return ticket if you don’t arrive at all your connection points on your original ticket. So, okay then. Bureaucracy for the win.) However, all that walking from terminal to terminal and no opportunity to sleep (the kids took a couple short cat naps in chairs, but that was it) forced our weary bodies to get full sleep at night.
Travel Tip: If you can stay busy and keep yourself awake for the first couple days, you can probably beat the jet lag fast. We had absolutely no jet leg at all! (But don’t expect to be fully alert, so you might not want to do your most exciting things those days, obviously.)
The biggest surprise to me about London was the short, twisty streets. Abandon, ye, all sense of direction. Kate got car sick twice, poor girl, with the stop and go traffic and crazy turns in our Ubers. (She did much better on the trains and out in the country.)
Travel Tip: Pack gallon ziplock bags and collapsible water bottles for those unexpected travel sick incidents. Our Dramamine did no good (but it did work on our later boat trip).
We stayed with new friends in London, where the kids had their own third floor attic haven complete with slanty ceilings, curtained compartments, books, and toys. Now they want a space like that at home! I completely lost my voice for basically the entire time we were there, but it’s nice to just be quiet and listen sometimes, isn’t it.
A couple of days we hopped on the tube to London Bridge Station and just walked around London. It was really nice not to have to be tourists, knowing we’d be back several times. We wandered past The Globe Theatre, wound our way through Borough Market, ate sandwiches next to The Golden Hinde (a reproduction of Sir Francis Drake’s ship) and hot donuts on a bench overlooking the Thames. It was mid-March, and there was virtually no rain. There goes that preconception! The streets were practically empty compared to Scott’s visit last July, and we were comfy in our mid-weight jackets without gloves or hats. Central London is mostly very stroller/buggy friendly, and we were very glad we had our Zoe XLC Best V2 stroller and Buggy Board with us. Caroline napped in the stroller, and Christopher rode when his little legs got tired or when we needed to go faster than a two-year-old pace. (We also brought and used a wrist leash for the crowded Underground. We hit Paddington Station at rush hour after our flight. It. was. a. zoo.)
Travel Tip: Bring your stroller/buggy to London, but make sure it’s one that collapses fast and small. We bought stroller carry straps too (not the Zoe brand, which seemed overpriced, but $7 ones from Amazon). Our super lightweight Zoe was perfect! (No, this isn’t an ad. I just love the stroller.) We loved it for walking around London, but a stroller would never ever have fit in the tube at rush hour or on the packed skinny escalators with the stroller open. (There were elevators/lifts most places, but they weren’t always the most convenient.)
On Saturday, we walked with our hosts to the Horniman Museum near their home, where we viewed the vast natural history collection and one of the most comprehensive instrument collections in Europe. (The museum is very stroller/buggy friendly and child-friendly.) That afternoon Scott spoke at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and our hostess took Caleb and Kate to central London where they visited the Fire of London Monument, the London Science Museum, and The Shard, while I stayed home with the little ones and napped.
On Sunday we worshiped at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and lunched with friends at their home in central London.
Monday morning we hit the road via London Euston station to embark on the first leg of our epic UK family road trip. I’ll be back with many more details about our amazing drive north!