Expatriates in London
London is MASSIVE. 1572 km2 to be exact. So how do you get from one side to the other or even just A to B? For an expat or holiday maker, this can be a little daunting. In this blog post we aim to break down the different travel methods for getting around the city, and what to watch out for!
Travelling Around London
How to Get an Oyster Card?
The most popular method for paying for travel in London is using an Oyster Card. An Oyster card is a credit card shaped, contactless payment card that you can get in the ticket machines at the entrance/exit of any tube station in London. Oyster cards can be pre-loaded at these ticket machines or you can set up an online account for automatic top up. When going inside a station or entering the bus, you should tap this card on the yellow circle on the scanners of the entrance units. Make sure you tap out of train journeys otherwise you will be charged the maximum fare for the zones you have travelled in. You only have to tap in for the bus.
You can also use contactless payment bank cards or Apple Pay on iPhones or Apple Watches in place of the Oyster card on all central parts of the Transport for London [TfL] network. Be careful not to keep your Oyster card and contactless payment cards together when you tap in and out as you are likely to be charged on both cards. If you are travelling outside of Zone 6, you are likely to need a paper ticket. Please check before travelling. If you are making a regular, daily journey, perhaps to and from work, then consider getting a season or annual ticket as these work out much cheaper.
Also known as ‘The Tube’ due to the tube like carriages moving through tubular underground tunnels. The London Underground is the most popular way to get around London. The Tube is segmented into 6 zones, zone 1 being the most central and 6 being the outermost ring, as shown on Harry Beck's iconic tube map. You can get to most areas of London via this transport system, however the South of London isn’t serviced by much of the tube and uses more of the national railway lines. Using an Oyster Card, Apple Pay or Contactless card, you can ‘tap’ into any station and hop on and off different tubes at each station, but be sure to tap out again when you leave the tube. Journey prices are calculated based on how many zones you have travelled in that day, and how many times you have entered and exited the tube. Each day there is a cap on how much it will cost. For more information on contactless payments, visit the Transport for London website here.
Travelling by Bus in London
The iconic red double decker buses form the biggest bus system in Europe. Each week day the London buses take approximately six million passengers across 6800 scheduled services. Buses operate on routes with each route number clearly marked on the front of the bus. You can find maps and route information at each stop, or on Transport for London's website, or using transport apps such as Citymapper, which will show you the best route to take if you giove it your destination. You can no longer pay for a bus with cash, you must use a contactless payment method. Each journey is £1.50 no matter how long you are on the bus for or how far it travels. This is capped at £4.50 per day. The Mayor of London has recently introduced a Hopper fare, allowing you to hop on a second bus for no extra cost, providing it is within 1 hour of getting on the first bus, resulting in paying for just one bus journey rather than two. There are even night bus routes that run 24 hours. These route numbers start with an N.
The London Overground is a number of lines that circle outside the center of London and take travelers to outer London. The line was created for commuters to be able to travel to the opposite side of the city without having to cross through Zone 1. The Overground line is the orange line on the Underground tube map. As if it wasn’t confusing enough.
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Docklands Light Railway
The Docklands Light Railway is also classed as part of the London Underground due to it sharing its ticketing system and many stops with the tube, however it is quite literally the opposite. This over ground rail line services the Docklands area of east London including Canary Wharf, Lewisham and Woolwich Arsenal, and is an automatic service – it has no drivers!
National / Overground Lines
The commuter railways bring in and take out people from the city to the rest of the country. These train lines are privately operated by many different companies but all journeys can be found on . Make sure you know which train to get, as there are many trains that leave London before making any stops. Also make sure that you have a valid ticket if you are leaving Zone 6, otherwise you could be charged a fine. This transport system services much of South and outer London, right out in different directions all through the country. You could even get a train from London to Edinburgh in Scotland if you wanted to!
The River Thames has historically been the main way to travel in London. This is not the case these days, but you can still get water taxis and river cruises from the 22 piers along the river. A nice change to being underground.
There are 3 types of Taxi’s in London; the iconic black cabs, private hire cars, and the somewhere-in-the-middle – Uber. Black cabs have a wealth of knowledge of the city. They all had to study the roads and local areas for three years before getting their full licence, a process known as The Knowledge. Prospective cabbies study so hard to learn so much geography that their hippocampuses - the area of the brain responsible for location and wayfinding - have been found to grow appreciably larger. Private hire taxis can be booked from local cab offices. It is advised that you make sure they have a licence as there are a number of taxi drivers in the city who are unlicensed.
Uber is the newest taxi firm in the city. After downloading their app and linking it to your bank account you can book and pay for taxis on demand with ease. No cash is needed and you can even split the fare with a friend! Uber is currently operating on a short-term licence in London. Their previous licence expired and the Mayor’s office declined to renew it after pressure from black cab operators and private hire firms.
Health Coverage in London
There is so much to do and see in London, and if you are lucky enough to be here for some time then you must get out there and explore! London is a great city to visit, but like any other country you must make sure that you are protected from accidents and potential health issues. From simply tripping up over a curb to a hospital visit, we know everything there is to know about expatriate travel insurance in our home country.