Photo by [Duncan]
London is definitely one of the safer cities to explore and you are far less likely to experience problems there than you would if you were visiting, say, Rio de Janeiro or Lagos. However, although London is relatively safe, it is still sensible to take a few precautions when travelling around the city, particularly at night. So if you are planning a trip to London, here are a few simple tips to ensure you see the sights and have fun – safely.
Walking Around the City
London is perfectly safe on foot and often it’s easier to get around on foot during rush hour. If you do choose to walk, carry a map and check your route before you set off. Always look before you attempt to cross over busy roads – cyclists can appear out of nowhere, especially at dusk. Appear confident at all times and don’t take short cuts down dark alleyways at night.
Beware Petty Thieves
London, like any other big city, has its fair share of shady people. Pickpockets are common in crowded tourist areas such as Covent Garden or Tower Bridge. Often the pickpocket works with accomplices, who distract you, perhaps by asking for directions, while the thief stealthily rifles through a bag or lift a wallet from your back pocket. By the time you realise what’s happening, they have melted into the crowd and your valuables are long gone.
Always carry anything of value in a zipped, secure pocket or bag when you are on foot. Don’t carry valuable items in an open handbag where criminals can spot them and target you as a result. It is also unwise to blatantly hold expensive mobile phones or tablets in full view since these will also make you a potential target.
Black Cabs in London
Black cabs are the only licensed taxis allowed to collect fares off the street. Mini cabs have to pick you up from a specified address. Never jump in an unlicensed taxi, even if you are desperate for a ride back to your accommodation. If in doubt about a minicab, ask the driver to confirm they know who you are and where you’re going before you jump in. Keep your mobile phone fully charged so you can call for assistance if necessary; download a phone charging app if you aren’t sure where the nearest charging points might be.
Stay Safe on Public Transport
Keep your wits about you when using the underground – especially late at night when it’s relatively quiet. The underground is mostly very safe, but keep hold of your bag at all times and don’t place wallets and other valuables in pockets where thieves can access them while you are crammed together on a crowded tube train at rush hour.
Wait for public transport in well-lit places. You should also sit near the driver when travelling alone on buses at night, and if you feel uncomfortable at any point, perhaps because another passenger is hassling you, ask for help or move to another seat.
London is a fantastic city to visit, with hundreds of great attractions, so have fun, stay safe, and you’ll be able to visit again soon.