Joel had to work for two days during our trip so I took the opportunity to see a bit of London by myself. This gave me a chance to learn how to make the most of a solo sightseeing day. I learned a few things!

What Not to Do

On my first solo day in London I have one goal. I want to go to Kew Gardens. I have admired photos of the Palm House at Kew Gardens for years and I really want to see it for myself. It looks so great in photos! I told myself that I’ll be happy if all I do today is see Kew.

I know it will take me about an hour to get from the hotel near King’s Cross to Richmond where Kew is located. I pull up the tube and bus directions on my phone selecting the shortest route, toss my camera and phone battery in my bag, and head out the door toward Euston Station

If I had taken a minute to look at the routes I would have realized that traveling to Kew from central London via the District Line towards Richmond drops you right off at Kew Garden Station. The tube ride is longer than the one I took, but it’s much easier to find the gardens from Kew Garden Station.

I’m sitting on the 30 minute tube ride when my stomach starts to growl. I think vaguely about eating breakfast or lunch at the gardens. When I get to Kew I realized that my bus dropped me off at the farthest point between two of the gates. So I walked. I walked and walked.

Finally, I arrive I step into the massive grounds. Tackling a huge park with lots of features on an empty stomach is not advisable. I enjoyed my morning at Kew, but I did cut it short to go in search of food.

What to Do

  • Plan your day. Spend a few minutes before heading out the door to decide where you want to go and how you are going to get there.
  • Don’t try to cram too much in. London is a big place and it can take awhile to travel from one area to another. Give yourself time to enjoy where you are before rushing to the next location. Pick two or three things to do per day.
  • Double-check your routes. The shortest option on your map app might not be the best.
  • Eat breakfast first. Making time for meals can feel unimportant when all you want to do is explore a new city, but it will make your day much more enjoyable.
  • Podcasts, music, audiobooks. Unless you’re in an area with a lot of tourists, you’ll probably find it hard to strike up conversations in London. Most people are just going about their normal routine and they don’t really want to hear what you think of Buckingham Palace. I kept my earbuds in for most of the day and it was nice to walk around Kew Gardens with a favorite podcast. 

What are your tips for traveling alone?

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