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14 Travel Tips to Make Holidaying in London with Kids More Enjoyable

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Taking pre-school children to London on holiday can be daunting, but by following our insider travel tips you will have a wonderful experience in this world-famous city. Here are some suggestions and tips for how to make family-friendly holidays in London a complete success!

  1. Child-friendly airlines

The best way to travel to London with children is by air. Even if you are only making a short-haul flight to London with children, avoid budget no-frills airlines such as Ryanair and Jet2. Although they appear to be cheaper than other airlines, they use airports that are miles from London city centre. You have to pay extra to reserve seats if you want to sit together, and pay for food, drinks and baggage, including pushchairs. Boarding budget flights usually involves waiting in long lines, and access to the airplane cabin is via a steep metal staircase. None of these are desirable or practical if you have youngsters in tow.

Get your trip to London off to a good start by using a reputable child-friendly airline such as Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Emirates or Lufthansa. They provide child-friendly entertainment, themed lunch boxes, baby food, colouring books, nappies/diapers and changing tables in the toilets.

  1. Family-friendly hotels in London

Town Hall Hotel is one of the best located family-friendly hotels in London. Located near Victoria Park, it has spacious rooms, rollaway beds, cribs, an indoor pool and babysitting services. It also provides a free chauffeur service within 1.5 miles of the hotel.

If you prefer a serviced apartment in London, Beaufort House in Knightsbridge is just one block from Harrod’s and close to several Tube (underground Metro) stations. The upscale apartments include Wi-Fi, a sitting/dining area, 1-4 bedrooms, and the kitchen is stocked with basic groceries before you arrive.

If you’re on a tight budget, Premier Inn London Waterloo is a mid-range hotel chain which includes free breakfast for children. Just five minutes’ walk from the London Eye, with views across the River Thames to Big Ben, the hotel is superbly located for returning to for afternoon naps.

  1. Family travel/health insurance

UK residents will already have full health insurance but may need travel insurance to cover holiday cancellation, flight delays and lost luggage.

Those living elsewhere in Europe should check if their home country has a reciprocal agreement with the UK for emergency medical costs. You may need to apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

If you are visiting London from elsewhere in the world, family travel insurance policies for single trips are inexpensive and provide complete peace of mind. They cover everything from a visit to the doctor, prescribed medications, emergency treatment as well as holiday cancellations, flight delays and lost luggage. When travelling with youngsters, you can’t be too careful!

 

  1. Useful apps to use in London

One of the best London apps for families is Hoop. Easy to use, it finds everything you need for kids in London including free events and activities. Browse by distance, age or category.

For getting around London, Citymapper is a must. It outlines all your transport options, including walking, bus, Tube, tram or train and has been nominated by Google for Best App 2017!

Most London attractions have their own apps, so download before you visit. For example, the Natural History Museum provides a map for planning your route around the exhibits. Tower Bridge family trail app converts your mobile/cell phone into a wrench to tighten bolts on the historic bridge, becomes a shovel for moving coal in the bridge’s boiler room and your kids can even guide a boat under the bridge by tipping the phone from side to side. It includes interactive stories and games. Best of all, the app is free!

  1. London weather – what to pack

London has a temperate climate with mild temperatures and frequent showers at any time of year. The warmest months are July and August and the driest month is July. Depending on when you plan to visit, check the forecast and pack accordingly. Whenever you plan to visit London, pack layers of clothing so you can adapt to unexpected sunshine or cooler evenings. A lightweight waterproof jacket is essential and needs to be compact enough to carry with you when not needed. It can double up as a picnic blanket when visiting the parks!

For youngsters, bring plenty of changes of clothing but buy bulky items such as nappies/diapers when you get there. Bring a familiar toy or comfort blanket for sleeping. Have a few snacks in your bag for the flight and while waiting in line for transport or tickets.

Packing tips include making a list so you don’t forget anything essential, and weighing your bag when packed to ensure it is within baggage limits.

  1. Keeping your kids safe in London

Buy a waterproof wristband for your child’s wrist so your phone number is available if you become separated in a busy shop or airport. Toddler Tags will sound an alarm if your child goes beyond a certain range. Alternatively, write your phone number on your child’s arm in waterproof pen, or put a note in their zipped pocket, just in case.

It is easy to get distracted by the vibrant city of London. Keeping an eye on your kid 100% of the time can be rather challenging. A good way to keep your kid close to you is by using a safety harness backpack. The strap keeps your kid close and the backpack comes in handy in storing all the essential kids stuff.

Carry essentials with you such as wet wipes, plasters, antihistamines, fever reducers and painkilling syrup so you can administer them without delay. Use bug spray if you are visiting London’s green parks.

On arrival, check hotel rooms thoroughly, including balcony railings and fire escapes. Move all glass vases, lamps and knives out of reach and cover sharp-edged coffee tables if you have toddlers. If sleeping in adjoining rooms, use a baby monitor.

 

  1. Airport transfers to London

The easiest way to reach your hotel from any London airport is by pre-booking a private car transfer. This service provides stress-free door-to-door transport for you, your family and your luggage.

Transfers from Heathrow

The Heathrow Express runs from Heathrow Terminals 2 and 3 and the journey takes 16 minutes. You can also use one of our drivers from Green Path Transfers for the 20-mile journey. It takes at least 45 minutes, and longer in the rush hour.

Transfers from Gatwick

Southern/Thameslink trains run from Gatwick Airport into London every 30 minutes throughout the day. The journey takes 28 minutes to London Bridge Station where you can connect with the Tube. The Gatwick Express takes 30 minutes and arrives in London Victoria station. .

Transfers from St Pancras Railway Station

This is the home of the Eurostar. If you’re coming to London or heading out to paris or Brussels via the Eurostar, you will need to get to this station. Transfer service is also provided by Green Path Transfers.

  1. Getting around London with kids

The best way to get around London with children is a combination of the Tube, buses, Uber taxis and walking. Kids under 10 travel free on the Tube, bus and DLR.

Tube/Metro/Underground

The Tube (Metro) is the most popular method of transport in Central London and kids love it. However, the long escalators make it difficult for those with pushchairs and strollers.

Each station has a special handicapped/family gate which opens when tapped with your Oyster card. It’s much easier than using a turnstile with children.

You’ll need a map to see where lines interconnect.

Buy an Oyster card for best value. They include discounts to some popular attractions.

Avoid the evening rush hour as trains become very crowded and intimidating for little ones.

Buses

Oyster cards also work on buses (red double-deckers are particularly fun!) or you can pay with a contactless credit/bank card when boarding.

Taxis/Uber

There are always plenty of black cabs which you can wave down in the street, or use your Uber app to call a private ride which will be cheaper.

 

  1. Child-friendly tourist attractions

KidZania offers role-play adventures with costumes and themed settings in a kid-sized city.

LEGOLAND is ideal for kids from toddlers up. Book a coach tour from London which includes admission and enjoy 55 rides, life-size models, 4D movies and plenty of Lego play.

London Transport Museum has buses, trains and other exhibits for exploring. There’s an excellent under-5s play area and a café.

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace is fun with kids. Stand by the palace gates before 11.30am and see regimental drummers and marching guards parade onto the palace forecourt.

London’s parks are ideal for children. There are boating lakes, ducks and plenty of green space for running and playing.

London Zoo is next to Regent’s Park and has big cats, gorillas and penguins as well as creepy crawlies in the spider walkthrough.

  1. Places to avoid with kids

Crowded underground platforms and busy escalators can be scary for children, who may get banged by backpacks or feel swamped by strangers. Travel outside the rush hour (8-9am and 4.30 to 6pm) for a better experience.

Avoid attractions that are scary or gruesome, such as the London Dungeon. HMS Belfast requires a lot of walking and the anti-aircraft weapons and operations room are unlikely to interest youngsters.

Museums and art galleries are also likely to bore youngsters who may react with noisy outbursts, running around or getting into mischief. Instead, choose attractions that have interactive exhibits.

Avoid musicals or shows unless they are suitable for children, such as The Lion King or Shrek the Musical.

  1. Clinics for children

There are many doctors’ practices (known as GPs) all over London who will treat minor health issues such as earache, rashes or sickness. If you have an EHIC or travel insurance policy, GP services are likely to be subsidised or free.

Private Urgent Care Centres such as the London General Practice are open 24/7 and no appointment is necessary.

For more urgent health matters, go to an Accident and Emergency (A&E) Unit at the nearest hospital, or dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.

  1. Restaurants with good kid’s menu

Spaghetti House is a chain you will see all over London. It has a fun kid’s menu with 2 courses for £5, plus seasonal cuisine and a drinks menu for adults.

The Rai is a colourful child-friendly place to enjoy a tasty meal in a jungle-themed environment right on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Giraffe is another great choice for family dining with restaurants across London including all major airports. It serves world cuisine for all tastes and dietary requirements.

Pubs are a great source of tasty “pub grub” at family-friendly prices. Children are not allowed at the bar, but most pubs have a designated family dining area.

  1. Things to buy for kids in London

Look for souvenir stalls along the streets of London. They have a good choice of novelty souvenirs for youngsters such as teddy bears with red Beefeater uniforms, Union Jack flags to wave, policeman’s hats, red double decker buses and other London icons.

Kids of all ages will be amazed at the 40,000 toys and games spread over seven floors at Hamley’s on Regent Street. Said to be the finest toy store in the world, the shop is laid out like a fun fair!

Harrod’s on Brompton Road is a popular store with 230 departments including designer children’s clothes, books and toys. It claims to have “everything, for everyone, everywhere”!

  1. Couple’s night out

Get a babysitter and enjoy a West End Show such as Mamma Mia! at the Novello or Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre. Book ahead as the best shows quickly sell out.

Covent Garden is a delightful backwater with many intimate chef-owned restaurants serving outstanding meals.

The OXO Tower Restaurant offers British cuisine with views across London’s skyline or dine with celebrities at The Ivy (again, book well ahead).

Travelling with your young ones doesn’t have to be a scary ordeal or nightmare. Stick to the above 14 tips and you’ll be planning your next family holiday in no time.

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