Somewhere New

Just Arrived – Getting Started

Just arrived to London or preparing for your journey? Whether you’re a natural-born traveler or it’s your first time abroad, these tried and true tips and tricks can help you with everything from getting connected to saving on exchange rate fees.


You can save a lot of money by doing all your shopping at the grocery store and then saving up for special meals out. Food prices are surprisingly cheap especially for staples like milk and bread. Plan your meals and shop ahead as shopping last minute at Tesco Metro and Local Sainsbury’s is much more expensive than going to the BIG Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s. Asda and Aldi are the cheapest (but sometimes harder to get to). And don’t forget Iceland! It’s not just for frozen food and prices are up to 25% cheaper on some items, so always worth a look! Waitrose and Marks and Spencer’s on the other hand, have super yummy food, but you’ll definitely pay extra for the quality.


For all your necessities, go to! They will have all you need and will deliver to your UK home. If you rather go in person, make Primark your best friend. Pick up any missing items of clothing for next to nothing. You can also find towels, pillows, sheets, and hangers there. Or if you want the best of both worlds go to where you can reserve an item at a shop near by and then go pick up it. Argos is one of the best places to stock your kitchen with pots, pans and everything else you might need.


Use your debit card to withdrawal a week’s worth of British Pounds from your bank account to help avoid a buildup of foreign exchange fees. (Just check with your bank to make sure there are no hidden fees!) Just remember though, in Britain, they are called “cashpoints”, so if you want to avoid any dumbfounded looks from the locals – don’t ask where the ATM is. If you have cash or want any other currencies for travelling abroad, the best rates can be found at Thomas Exchange Global. They have branches all over London, and their head branch is at 402 Strand, Charing Cross London, WC2R 0NE.


Your best plan for having a phone while abroad is by using an international or UK SIM card. You can either buy a cheap ‘bar’ phone to use while abroad, or you can bring an unlocked smartphone with you. You can go to your local Vodaphone, EE, O2, Virgin Mobile, or Carphone Warehouse store to get help with SIM cards.  But the best deal we have found is at 3, where you can get a SIM with unlimited data, as well as plenty of texts and minutes for £15 a month – and you don’t need a contract or a UK address.


Avoid pulling out large maps around tube stations – if you’re confused or lost, ask a station employee for help. You should also always have a hand on your bag or belongings while in crowded areas like attractions, the tube, or even while sitting at a restaurant or pub. If your bag has a strap, loop it around your leg while you are seated so no one can snatch it and run! Don’t ever put your wallet or mobile phone in your back pocket unless you are trying to make a pickpockets day.


In case of Emergencies dial 999. This is the number for EMERGENCIES. If it’s not an emergency but you need assistance, go to your local police station or if you need non urgent medical care you can call NHS 111. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It can provide medical advice and details of the best local service that can provide care. Telephone consultations and triage (an assessment of how urgent your medical problem is) are an important part of all out-of-hours care.


Forget the guide book, they will know all the hot spots and best places to eat. Don’t be afraid to ask strangers for directions and suggestions, Londoners are very friendly! Police officers will also point you in the right direction anytime you have questions.


Do NOT bring a hair dryer, straightener, curling iron, or any other types of U.S. heating products. The difference in voltage will ruin your product. Save yourself the trouble and purchase one in London at a discount store like TK Maxx! Plus, you have more packing space. Check out our list on the best places to shop for everything you’ll need or may have forgotten.


Some days it is 60 degrees and sunny, other days it is 40 degrees and raining—make sure you pack clothes for all seasons! Pack clothes that can be layered and mix and matched!  Also, consider packing an umbrella that you can easily carry around.