London & Environs

Eating & Drinking
Practical information
Days out



Practical information

Practical information - links



Practical information

Before you live

Although low cost airlines charge the traveller with cheaper fares, especially if you get the ticket in reasonable advance, national airline companies, such as Alitalia and British Airways are cutting their prices to remain competitive. So, check both options, before buying your ticket. If you are a student, remember to check out cheap student fares.

Bring with you clothes you feel comfortable with, as you need them when travelling. In particular, choose clothes that you can layer. A sleeping bag is essential if you're going to be travelling around or staying with friends. Coats are a necessity in winter. Don't forget to bring with you an alarm clock. change of underwear, toiletries to freshen up with such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant.

Ensure that your luggage is labelled inside and out. Lock every zipper and perhaps tie a ribbon or sticker on to your bag to personalise it. Choose luggage that is compact and try not to load yourself with too many bags.

Don't wear clothes that advertise where you're from and always be aware of your surroundings. Thieves are everywhere and even the most innocent looking person may not be as honest as you could think. Keep your valuables such as our passport and wallet locked in your hand luggage.

Finally, never accept a parcel from a stranger to hold or transport for them, never leave your luggage unattended and always be on the alert.

We have prepared a simple check-list which summarise some items you should not forget to bring with you:



London is very big, but is not more dangerous than other big cities. Anyway, stay safe by following these rules:



Some addresses and telephone numbers could help you if a problem troubles you:





Lost & found

Should you lose your personal belongings, some addresses and telephone numbers can help you solve the problem:



Banks are normally open from 9:00 to 16:30 or later, Monday to Friday. Some branches may open on Saturdays.

Bureaux de Change are open longer hours than ordinary banks. Many are near railway stations and in shopping areas. We'd suggest using only those displaying the official Tourist Board symbol and code of conduct. Check both rates and commission.



Any country has a particular system of taxation which derives from historical events and specific tradition, so you could not really get the meaning of some taxes you should have to pay. We'd suggest consulting a local tax office or a tax agency before starting any activity or accepting a job, so as to avoid "surprises":

National Insurance Number (NIN)

To work in the UK you must apply for a National Insurance Number. To get it, contact the Department of Social Security (DSS) - Benefits Agency Office, as soon as you get to London. Once your number has been attained, you can submit it to your employer. Tax and NIN will then deducted on your behalf on a Pay As You Earn basis. Your payslip will show the deductions made for both. At the end of the year, should your total earnings be lower than expected, you may be eligible for a tax refund. Of course, a full rebate will be awarded to those earning less than the annual Personal Allowance. The tax year is from April to April.

Council tax

Council taxes is levied on homeowners for services such as street cleaners, rubbish collection, public library, etc. They tend to pass this charge onto the tenants. Council tax is not usually included in your rent, so make sure you check with your landlord about this. This tax has to be paid monthly and there are serious consequences if it's not paid. The amount varies from area to area.

Self-employment & Limited Companies

There are some advantages to work on your own, such as offsetting business expenses against tax and claiming back the expenses incurred while doing your job. We'd suggest keeping all your receipts for reference and proof.

Tax on savings

Banks and building societies deduct a basic rate income tax from interest earned before it is paid. A rebate is claimable if the income is less than the individual's tax allowance, or if tax has been deducted unnecessarily.



Cab drivers expect to be tipped about 10 per cent of the fare. Restaurants sometimes add a service charge of 10-15 per cent, but this should be shown on the menu.

Tipping of staff such as chambermaids and porters is discretionary but it is usual to tip guides at the end of sightseeing tours.