After two weeks of Wimbledon… This week I was asked:
What would you do if you had a couple of days in London?…
So this week the blog will be a virtual tourist and take a trip to London… This is by no means a complete London guide, but rather our guide and covers the things we did while we were there.
Any project with kids requires preparation and here are se7en things we did to prepare:
Get: A notebook and plot a page for papers and documents you need to take. Another page with things you plan to pack (easy to loose your mind at the last minute and forget vital stuff)… and then plot a page for each site you plan to visit… Also plot your intended itinerary… and keep it as a travel log through your journey – it is a great resource for later – I am using mine now!
Research: Choose one or two good guidebooks – we mostly used:
The first one is complete and detailed, as you would expect from a DK book. The second is short and to the point and highlights London in a colorful and enticing nutshell. Read these with your kids and let them pick out things they want to do, it keeps them interested if they are involved. Also, they choose the darnedest things – ours wanted to see: The changing of the Guard; a hippopotamus at the zoo and The Imperial War Museum. Plot your chosen list on a map so that you can group events together and then plan your days accordingly.
Use: your friend google to visit absolutely every sight you plan to see – get opening hours and prices – you can even print floor plans! Plot these factoids in your travel notebook… Most sites have a great kids section that you can visit on-line with your kids and prepare them in advance. It really helped that they knew where they were going and what to look out for and what to look forward to.
Train: Somehow traveling requires a serious level of fitness, dashing from site to site not to mention tripping around museums – so we trained and climbed the mountain behind our house everyday for weeks – Not just for the kids benefit but for mine – I had to get used to lugging a child a heavy child (9.5 kg at 6 months!!) and a number of water bottles and a guidebook – so yes – we practiced packed – and I was glad of the fitness when on the second day we beat the streets of London for nine hours straight!
Practice: Wherever we went the kids took their own backpack with exactly what they needed on the trip – no more (some keen pack rats!) and no less (some that pack absolutely nothing)! Try and carry as little as possible in your day pack because you will gather stuff throughout your day and need somewhere to put it… Also always have a warm rain proof sweater in your pack – we were there in the summer and packed these as a last thought – weren’t we grateful – London summer turned out to be a lot ‘crisper’ than a Cape Town winter on some days! Otherwise, while they each had their own strong notebook and envelope to keep all their papers and tickets and little things they gather… I did regret not having thin paper and crayons for bronze rubbings – in places like the Tower of London there were opportunities to do rubbings but we didn’t have the necessary materials.
Crowd control: The streets of London, not to mention the underground can be packed with people and your children have to know to stay with you ALL THE TIME and not get distracted by a passing red bus or a brightly colored shop window. We still say “practicing for London” and our kids gather round and walk real close… everyone holds another hand so as not to get separated by the crowd. We did find the people of London incredibly helpful and perfect strangers often offered to help up and down the Underground and crossing roads.
Talk: to people that have been there and done that… you can learn a lot about things unique to London – for example the public transport was brilliant and worked really smoothly – once we knew how!
Thats all I can think of – off the top of my head – but I will post more on where to go and what to see tomorrow.