After a short 8 months, today we head back to the UK and it seems like a good time to look back at our last trip and see what we learned. So here are a few lessons and insights.
Red eyes can be beneficial—and challenging
The obvious negative to taking a red eye is discomfort from lack of sleep. We traveled premium economy last time and it was pretty comfortable with a bit more leg room and plenty of decent food, but sleeping wasn’t the easiest thing to do. This time we’re traveling business class so there’s more possibility of sleep. I’m sure we’ll be writing about that this week!
But the very best thing about taking a red eye to London is that you can time it so that you arrive in London in the morning. This helped us adjust to the time difference and avoid much jet lag on our last trip and that’s the plan for this one as well.
- Arrive in the morning,
- Fill your day and stay up as long as you can (we collapsed around 5:30pm),
- Set an alarm for a time around when you want to be getting up during your trip,
- Voilà! You have conquered jet lag!
Mind the bag
If you’re going to be traveling around a lot (something that is easy and fun to do in Europe) make sure you take the smallest bag you can. On our longest travel day we: woke up early in Dublin, took a cab to the ferry, took a ferry to Wales, took a train to London, took the Underground (during rush hour!), and then got out and pulled our suitcases along bumpy streets to our hotel. In that moment I would have loved a smaller suitcase!
Always book a table
Unlike in the US, you should always assume you need a reservation at a restaurant in the UK. They don’t seem to have the concept of “flipping tables” like we do in the US. So when you book a table it is yours for the night. There isn’t an attentive server moving you along so that the table will become available.
Because of this, we missed out on a few places we wanted to eat at last time. For this trip we have already booked tables at a few places we didn’t want to miss out on again. If you’re a foodie it would be a good idea to look ahead to the restaurants you don’t want to miss. I really like the Bon Appétit city guides.
Use your community’s knowledge
Nothing beats an inside scoop. Friends who are locals are great resources. If you don’t have any direct connections dive into your local communities for inspiration. Have a friend who has recently been to the area you’re traveling too? Take them out for coffee and get their tips. Don’t be afraid to ask. I also love looking up Instagrammers who live in the places I’ll be traveling to. You get a local’s eye view of the the place and will probably spot a few things you’ll want to see, eat or do. For more on this topic, check out this post Joel wrote.
The journey can be just as fun as the destination
That long day of travel that started in a cab in Dublin and ended in bumping a suitcase along uneven streets in Shoreditch was one of the best days! Ferry and train are relaxing ways to travel, because no one in the group has to act as navigator. You can all sit back and enjoy the views!