Where to quench your thirst in East London

Home of Jack the Ripper and early mob films, East London can be identified as a city all it's own. Step away from the historical and expensive streets of central London and step into an area full of cultures, coffee and craft beer.  Navigating this ever growing part of the city can feel overwhelming, so we've compiled a list of our favorite places to quench your thirst any time of day!

COFFEE

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  • Common E2: Family style tables filled with young professionals working on laptops, Tame Impala playing on the stereo and local beers lining the wall make this place a perfect destination to spend several hours. In addition to the warm yet modern vibe this place can make a mean cup of coffee and a damn good sandwich. 

  • Nkora : If you are looking for a simple and delicious cup of coffee, run don't walk to Nkora. The space is small but the coffee is big. A beautiful location with mostly window bench seats, this coffee shop is the perfect location for a coffee connoisseur looking for a cup and pastry on the run.  

 

  • Brick Lane: Walking down Brick Lane you will see more adorable coffee shops than you will know what to do with. Take a break from the food and vintage markets to have yourself a cuppa tea or a freshly roasted cup of coffee!

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  • Mother Kelly's: Do you enjoy beer? Truly enjoy beer? If so, this is your destination. They don't carry any liquor and only have option for red and white wine. Their 20 tap line changes daily and they have a wall of coolers that are filled with local and european canned beers. They even have a hefty selection of craft beers that can only be found in London here. This place is a perfect date night as the 6 other couples in the room could attest to offering up cheese and meat boards and several other light fares. Even if beer isn't 100% your thing you'll want to check out this place simply for the coolness factor and patio. If beer isn't your thing, simply keep walking down this alley and you're bound to find something.
  • Redchurch Brewery : This brewery keeps in the theme of East London enjoying archways. Similar to Mother Kelly's they only serve beer, however at Redchurch they sell the beer they brew in house and it's definitely worth trying. They have a range of beers including a well balanced IPA and several sour options (which are my favorites). Make sure to stop here on a Friday/Saturday night to get a pint and jump on the dance floor.
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  •  The Kings Arms : If you enjoy a modern yet cozy atmosphere with beautifully framed butterflies lining the walls, go no further than The Kings Arms. It feels like an updated version of your fathers favorite pub and filled with young people looking to have a good night. Make sure to ask the bartenders about the rotating beer and speciality Gin and Tonic menu! 

 

  • The Sun Tavern : Beer not your thing? Step inside The Sun Tavern to try one of the over two dozen options of whiskey. Not sure what you want? Chat with the experienced bartenders to get some recommendations. But buyer beware: Nice whisky can get expensive fast! This pub is buzzing almost every night of the week so be sure to get there early to get a seat. In addition to strong and affordable drinks, they also offer a variety of traditional English pub snacks. 

 

  • Bethnal Green: Fancy creating your own pub crawl filled with locals and great drinks? The borough of Bethnal Green is packed with pubs and bars all ready to show you a good time. Let yourself wander and explore this lesser known area away from tourists, and tourist prices.

Top 5 places to get your caffeine fix in London

By Payal Budhraja

By Payal Budhraja

My favorite pass time on lazy weekends is to explore a new area of London. What motivates me to do that? The fact that I get to try a local coffee shop! Whilst for some coffee is just the caffeine,for me it’s about the experience of the café and the ambience.

I have spent a ton of time browsing through recommendations to find a nice and cosy coffee shop to spend a quiet afternoon and get some work done. Some experiences turned out amazing, others were just like any other. Here’s some of those amazing finds:

 

Drury Lane Café – Covent Garden

I have mentioned this place before as part of my brunch recommendations but I have more often visited this place for its cappuccino. When someone asks me where to go to get the best coffee in London, it’s been Drury Lane for me so far. Although my hunt always continues!

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Artigiano Espresso and Wine Bar – St. Paul’s

This coffee shop is located right across St. Paul’s Cathedral and is one of the few places I absolutely enjoyed sitting and working. Facing a pedestrian only alleyway with the chimes of the bell ringing at the cathedral, it’s a peaceful place to relish your afternoon and of course the coffee is worth the visit!

 

The CoffeeWorks Project - Angel

The CoffeeWorks Project has a nice selection of drip coffees from various regions across the globe.  It was my curiosity to try something new that drew me here. I absolutely loved sitting by the window side in this little café and another place I would go to be productive.

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Monmouth Coffee Company – Covent Garden

It is meant to be one of the most popular coffee shops in London. I was surprised to see the continuous inflow of people from the moment I entered until the time I left. While their coffee selection is something I would go back for, it is not a place I would recommend to sit and work due to the business throughout the day! You will be lucky to not encounter a queue here but  their speciality filter coffee is worth the wait.

 

Notes – King’s Cross

King’s Cross has always been my to go place. It was one of the closest places to where I lived and Notes was the perfect spot to chill with a delicious Cappuccino. However, more than the coffee, a unique thing on their menu is one of their teas, Genmai Cha. It is essentially Green Tea with rice and was something new to me. The tea turned out to be pleasantly delicious.

My list can go on and I continue searching for new spots to add to this list. I hope you can sense my excitement to try local cafes and experimenting with my coffee sensitive taste buds.

Malls and Markets and Shops, oh my!

By Payal Budhraja 

By Payal Budhraja 

London is busy and crowded, and we all know that! Bustling with noise and people from all over the world, so many tourists just visit it to shop. It is home to some of the most popular shopping destinations of the world, including Oxford Street and Regent Street. They are undoubtedly one of my favorite high-street places to shop.

Located at the cross-junction of Oxford Circus station, the two streets have leading high-street and department stores. From more expensive shopping at department stores like John Lewis and Selfridges to affordable places like Primark and H&M, you are sure to find what you are looking out for! I always try and pick a lazy weekday afternoon to have more space and less people to browse the store collections.  

There are lots of food stalls to be found in the alleyways along both Oxford Street and Regent Street and you might get to witness some cool street side music performances!

Brands are everywhere and their collections overlap no matter what. However, there’s always the more local, yet equally popular places that are worth a visit!

MY TOP SHOPPING DESTINATIONS

  1. Westfield Stratford City Mall – It is a bit far to get to from Central London. You have take the Overground, Central or Jubilee Line – but it’s got all that you need under one roof. What’s outdoors at Oxford Street is in the warm indoors here and one of my preferred places to go despite a bit of a longer travel!

  2. Covent Garden – Another outdoor area with selected shops, but nonetheless the combination of shops and food makes me want to go there. It’s got the Apple Market to buy local artsy stuff and enjoy the taste of French macarons at Ladurée. I also make it a point to get Amorino’s gelato when I shop around here!

  3. Harrods – A place with all high-end brands under one roof. Even if you do not want to shop there, it is worth a visit in the evening to see it all lit up. If you want to be a bit fancier, try out their high tea at The Georgian! (You probably guessed I have a big sweet tooth) Plus the neighborhood of Knightsbridge has got high street shopping as well in case you change your mind!

  4. Old Spitalfields Market – If you are on a look out for something more local, Spitalfields Market is the place to be! With local arts and independent fashion stalls, you are sure to find something unique for yourself here.

  5. Camden Market – Again more local! If you want something eclectic and vintage, Camden Town is the place to go. There’s numerous local food stalls to try out when you are tired wandering around. What more? They also have a pretty canal to walk around and enjoy the sunshine on a sunny afternoon!

There are lots of neighborhoods in London to visit and even more malls to go to where you are sure to find what you like. Do note, the local markets are often busy on the weekends especially during the summer months.

Budget Traveling Tips

By Anna Persson

By Anna Persson

BEFORE YOU GO:

When it comes to saving money for that big trip (or short lavish trip), there’s a lot you can do before booking that ticket and catching that flight to help save some extra cash. The biggest expense I’ve found is eating and drinking out!

Why not eat in? Invite a bunch of friends over (or take it in turns at each others houses) for a potluck. Everyone brings a dish and you get to share food, try a bunch of tasty different dishes and hang out with your buds at the same time! Drinks wise, having pre-drinks will save you money if you’re planning a night on the town. Drink responsibly, obviously!

ON THE ROAD:

Accommodation:

  • Pitching a tent in the city - the website hitchwiki.org has location based information for a multitude of cities on possible tent-pitching locations! Be smart of course and trust your gut. 

  • Couchsurfing is free, but above all is a fantastic way to stay with locals in the city you’re visiting!

  • Hostels are cheap and a wonderful way to meet fellow travelers - who knows, you might meet a future travel buddy there!

Transport:

  • Hitchhiking is free - hitchwiki.org has excellent beginners tips, safety advice and excellent hitching spot recommendations. Again, please be cautious and use your best judgement.
  • Ride sharing is fairly common in Europe - websites like bla bla car
  • Buses are generally cheaper than trains, especially when booked in advance
  • RyanAir and Easyjet are cheap, budget airlines in Europe
  • Eurorail passes can be worthwhile if you’re visiting a lot of European cities in a small period of time
  • Depending on how long you’re in a city for, look into a weekly pass for public transport +
  • Walking is free, good exercise and a slower pace in which to see the city
  • A few cities do bike share systems - Paris, Vienna, London amongst various other European ones

Phone plans:

  • Do some research before you go for which phone companies offer the best deals for you! There are some packages designed specifically for short-term stays, pay as you go, etc

Wifi:

  • Whatsapp is huge in Europe and only needs an internet connection!
  • Look out for McDonalds and Starbucks for sneaky free internet! ;)
  • Libraries are your friend - wifi, water fountains, toilets, refuge from the hot/cold/wind/rain & books!
  • Tourist information centers offer advice on what to do/see/experience in a city and are there to offer advice, directions and maps!

Food:

  • A lunchbox with leftovers is great for a lunch on the go!
  • Familiarize yourself with the local supermarket to know which is cheapest - Waitrose will be more expensive than Tesco or Sainsbury

Not falling for tourist traps:

  • Always eat a few blocks away from the main tourist attractions. Restaurants and cafes near the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben will be overpriced and the service/food will generally not be as good due to the high customer turnover.

Inspiration from a Seasoned Nomad

By Anna Persson

By Anna Persson

There’s a quote I really love, one that has resonated with me since I’d first heard it, some years ago now. From the pen of the French poet, Anais Nin.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls”

Since beginning my own travel journey and crossing paths with others on theirs, I am grateful for the courage I took to make that first leap of faith. To book that ticket, buy that backpack and walk into the unknown, only to find then lose myself, then find then lose myself...infinitely.

Travel seems big and scary and sometimes, it is.

There’s the shock of being ripped from your comfort zone, from routine and being placed in a totally unfamiliar environment. With that though, comes the joy of seeing that YOU, yes, YOU, you’ve got this! That you’re capable of so much more than you had thought possible. That you can make friends with the cool looking Finnish punks in the park and you can maneuver your way around foreign metro stations. You can read that map; hitchhike that country. You can find home and yourself in places you’d least expect.

You’ll realize that despite cultural differences, language barriers and oceans spanning between hometowns - that really, at our core, we’re all a lot more similar. You’ll learn that a smile transcends language.

Traveling connects you with people you might not normally have had the chance to meet. When you’re open-minded and receptive, you’ll learn a lot about the world, criss-crossing paths with all sorts of characters. Some you’ll get along with and who’ll become instant best friends, some not. Some cities you’ll fall head over heels in love with and never want to leave; some not.

You’ll learn more about yourself by getting out of your home turf and mixing things up. You’ll learn more and more about what situations, cities and people you enjoy and this knowledge is what helps you grow. If you think of yourself as the seeds to a flower yet to bloom, you’ve got to test the different soils.

Travel to taste foods you’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce the names of. To listen to music played on instruments you’ve never seen. To hear the sound of your footsteps on cobbled streets. To feel the nervous excitement when the plane lands and you step out into the unknown - to a new adventure.

And if you’ve got the right attitude, returning home from travels is half the fun - to see the old places with new eyes, with a new knowledge of what exists further beyond your everyday and what it is you want to change in the world! But in your own backyard! Act Local, Think Global!

But why take this writer’s word on it? Find out for yourself and discover the world that is truly your oyster. Sorry not sorry for the cliche!

The bigger question is, Why not Travel?

But reader beware, the travel bug bites harder than those bed bugs you heard that that guy at that hostel had ;)

How to: Pack Light

By: Anna Persson

By: Anna Persson

Imagine arriving at your destination knowing nothing stands between you and the crisp air of London or the humid heat of Thailand? No fumbling and waiting at baggage collection for you! You’ve packed light, you’ve packed smart and you’re ready to grab that 22in x 14in x 9in (give or take) backpack and are able hit the ground running.

There are several benefits to traveling with just a carry-on besides simply skipping the wait at the baggage carousel, trying to spot the red ribbon on your suitcase amongst the other red ribboned suitcases. Traveling light makes for easier travel. The less weight you’ve got on your back or that you’re dragging behind you (do yourself a favor and buy yourself a good backpack that you can carry on you) - the quicker you move and the more freedom you have!

So, whether it be a weekend trip or a longer destination, it’s totally doable to pack light and get away with just carry-on.

Firstly, you’ll want to check what the carry on requirements are for the airline you’re flying with; make sure that your chosen bag/backpack fits those dimensions and stays under that weight! Whilst some airlines can be lenient (always be extra nice to the person weighing your bag) with a little extra weight, some will charge you extra, a lot extra. Not fun!

I’ve learned the hard way when packing for an adventure you won’t need half the stuff that you’re putting in your bag. Struggling to lift a backpack that weighed a third of my body weight in an airport in Dublin springs instantly to mind...

So, how do you do it? Pack cleverly!

As far as clothes go, pack several different options for tops and bottoms that can be mixed up! A faithful pair of black jeans that can be paired with different tops goes a long way. Same goes for shorts if your destination sees you reveling in the warmth.

If you know what you’re going to be doing whilst you’re away - prepare for that. If you know you’re going to be going to a fancy restaurant, going out for a boogie or going for a hike - pack what you plan on wearing! This may seem obvious but it can easily be forgotten. Rolling your clothes over folding them will save you space. I even tie mine with rubber bands to make sure things don’t go too haywire and that I can find my clothes easier.

With restrictions on toiletries and liquids being 100ml/3.4 ounce containers, you’ll need to make sure your shampoos/conditioners/soaps meet these requirements. You can pick up these containers in most supermarkets or purchase travel sized versions of the ones you already use. Alternatively, you can pick up soap/shampoo bars which will save you space and are better for the environment! LUSH does really lovely ones that I’ve used on occasion.

Most airlines will allow you a laptop or camera bag in addition to your carry-on which will save you precious packing space, as will opting for a kindle over several bulky books (I know, I love the feel and smell of a “real” book too).

Microfibre travel towels are fantastic space savers and dry quickly too. If you’re staying at a hotel/hostel - check ahead to see if they provide towels! If you’re staying with Aunty Jan or that old friend from college, don’t be shy in asking if they’ve got one you can pinch.

I’ve always found that wearing your heaviest shoes and heaviest jacket on the plane will save you a significant amount of space. Plus you can take them off and stow them overhead/underneath as soon as you’re onboard.

Generally though, just pack what you will actually need and if you have reservations about something - don’t pack it!

And if all that fails, just wear ALL your clothes on the plane and fill your pockets! ;)

Brunch Recommendations in London: My top 5

By Payal Budhraja

By Payal Budhraja

I enjoy my weekend brunches, especially when it’s in the summer. It’s relaxing to take a break after a hectic week and have a perfect cup of cappuccino while enjoying some delightful eggs and toast. Here’s my favourites from the ones I have tried so far:

Caravan – King’s Cross

1. Caravan has a few branches in London. I have been to the one at King’s cross a few times and they never disappoint me. Eggs on sourdough toast with avocado is my all time favorite. It’s a spacious restaurant and always packed on the weekends. They do not take reservations. However, depending on how many people to bring to enjoy this delicious restaurant, you do not have to wait too long.  *Moral of the story: Don't bring your whole crew*

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2. Eggbreak – Notting Hill Gate

I mentioned Eggbreak in my last post as well and it's worthy of the second shout out.  It was definitely one of my best discoveries in London. I am a big fan of trying small, local places. The personalized touches create that authentic feel and taste that chains often lack. The place is located a few minutes away from Notting Hill station. It does not take reservations, but I can guarantee you that it is worth the wait.

3. 26 Grains – Covent Garden

Do you love porridge? Because I do and if you love all things warm, gooey and delicious go no where further. 26 grains has extensive options of delicious porridge. Located in Neal’s Yard (one of the most colorful and picturesque places in London, definitely google it), the café is small but seriously busy! The food is made fresh right in front of you as you wait. They do more than just porridge and have some savory options as well if your sweet tooth isn't as strong as mine. But this place tops my list with the Banana Cacao porridge and their smoothies are amazing too!

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4. Drury 188-189 Cafe – Covent Garden

This happened to be one of the closest place to my college and a perfectly decorated cosy restaurant to spend a peaceful afternoon.  If you are the person who wants to read in a quiet place then this is the place for you, they have books everywhere. What about their coffee? It is my favorite in London! I have tried their scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with smashed avocado’s here which was simply amazing too (I might have a go to breakfast item). They also have fresh salads for lunch and mouth-watering cakes (I have heard that red-velvet is the best) on display that I will go back to try again!

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5. Granger and Co – King’s Cross

An Australian menu inspired café, again in King’s cross, is indeed a nice sit down place. With long glass windows and natural light shining through (whenever there is sun which is not so often in London!), the place is definitely worth a visit!

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These are my favorite discoveries in the year I have spent in London. If you have a short time in London, just walk around the local neighborhoods and you will surely find a great local eatery. This is a short list and there are still lots of places I want to try. I usually find my places by following pages on social media and so far, none of them have disappointed me.

Exploring London: Beyond the TripAdvisor Recommendations

By Payal Budhraja

By Payal Budhraja

I spent my summer interning in London and had the opportunity to explore some more local destinations.

The London Underground connects the whole city and is probably the quickest way to find your way to all these places.

1. Notting Hill Gate

One of the secluded housing areas with vibrant and colourful houses, I spent an afternoon walking in the neighbourhood and visiting the local Portobello Road Market. I started my day by visiting a local brunch place called Eggbreak. As the name suggests, the menu had an extensive choice of eggs prepared in a variety of ways and they are delicious! The market is closed on Sundays (which of course was the day I picked to go) but a sunny summer day is perfect to enjoy the market to shop.  

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2. The Theatre District

Like Broadway in New York City, London’s West End is well known for musicals and if you are a theatre fan, I would definitely recommend catching one. I saw The Phantom of the Opera during my break, but there are many others including Disney’s Lion King and Aladdin. Shows run all week with two shows on weekends.

3. Shoreditch Street Art

Shoreditch, one of London’s popular areas known for its street art, is a must visit if you enjoy looking at creative graffiti and works of art. It has a very hipster-like feel to it. As usual when I visited, I started my day with a local brunch place called Friends of Ours after which I went on my graffiti quest. Just off Brick Lane (below), there are walls of colourful and eccentric graffiti on the streets. I’m not the kind of person who understands the nitty-gritties of art but this experience was still exciting and I was able to witness some amazing creations.

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 4.Brick Lane

Brick Lane is another street which has rows and rows of cafés, local shops and a local market which unlike Notting Hill Gate, is open on Sunday’s. They had a range of food stalls, local coffee places and street artists performing. Enjoying the entertainment and liveliness of the afternoon, I visited Cereal Killer Café (you’ve probably gathered that I enjoy my weekend brunches). As the name suggests, it’s one of the places you can customize your breakfast plate full of cereal and enjoy tempting shakes. Once in awhile, a cheat day is allowed, isn’t it? I loved their wall full of cereal display and little beds to sit and have your own delicious bowl of cereal.

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This is just a snippet of my London exploration over the summer. There is still a lot on my list to visit and experience in this bustling city!

Planning your next adventure?

By Olivia Wisden

By Olivia Wisden

As I often tell those around me, a trip is always a good idea. I also tell people that it is much easier to plan a trip to a place you've never been than you are imagining. Yet it's also easy to plan only an okay trip. Here are Babette Travel's 5 tips to planning your next amazing adventure.

  1.  Plan your trip in accordance to the amount of time you have. I used to be a strong proponent of 6-week+ trips but I have learned that it  is equally possible to have an amazing week long trip. The trick is to make sure what you're planning actually fits into the time you've allotted yourself. I know this sounds basic but it often is the bane of most trips. You get excited while planning and simply include too many things. If you are visiting Europe for 2 weeks, do not plan to visit 5 countries and 8 cities. You will exhaust yourself.
  2. Speaking of exhaustion, include at least one day to just relax. As great as it is to be out and exploring a new place, it's also exhausting. There is not much worse when traveling than when you're simply too tired to enjoy whatever you are doing. Allow yourself a day to chillax and enjoy a lazy morning and early evening. If you're planning on bopping around to different cities/countries allow a few relaxation days. Trust me, you'll thank me.
  3. Do not over plan. This may go against everything  your nerves are telling you but there will be hiccups along the way and if everything is already booked/planned it makes changing these plans very very difficult. My go-to for planning is really this simple: book my main flight, book all of my accommodations (make sure it's flexible booking) and know how I'm supposed to get from the airport (or train station, ferry, etc) to my accommodation. I also research to have some ideas of things I want to do and unless it requires tickets (a specific show or game) I leave it until I get to my destination to figure out the smaller details so I can decide as I go what I feel like doing. Yes, I plan that little. 
  4. Be open to different experiences. Most of my favorite travel experiences are all due to the fact I was open to doing something that I typically wouldn't do at home. Be this a different kind of bar, club, restaurant, walking tour, local shop, activity or whatever, including these will give you an experience and go beyond just site seeing.
  5. Use airbnb, Couchsurfing or MeetUp to get to know locals. If you want to really experience a city and go beyond the typical 'top 10 things to do' chatting with someone from the city will be your golden ticket. They will be able to tell you where to avoid, what's actually worth visiting and more often than not know of something interesting to do that all the travel sites failed to mention.

 

Arriving in London

By Rebecca Meagher (featuring the blue jacket and hot pick scarf)

By Rebecca Meagher (featuring the blue jacket and hot pick scarf)

I cemented my love of travel at an early age. I love looking up the dos and don’ts of a being in certain country as well as the country’s customs. I’ve had the chance to travel to many cool places like Ecuador, China and Spain, however in these countries I felt like I was walking around with a big neon sign over my head flashing the word “tourist” for everyone to see despite my best attempts at blending in.

While studying abroad in Madrid for a semester I tried my hardest to ditch the typical “American” stereotypes. I carried a purse instead of a backpack, wore boots and flats instead of sneakers and tried to speak Spanish with everyone. I didn’t even bring a pair of sweatpants with me.  However, much to my dismay, no one seemed to notice the effort I took. This was abundantly clear one day on the bus when someone bumped into me and quickly said “disculpe” then turned around to look at me and then said “sorry”.  

While studying abroad in Madrid I learned to accept that I would stand out, so I was very excited to take a weekend trip to London because I hoped that being in London would allow me a break from constantly looking like a tourist.

I brought my favorite – more stylish – clothes in the hopes of looking more like a Londoner. However, I tend to gravitate towards colorful clothes rather than the stereotypical dark colors of British fashion, so I thought that I was at a bit of a disadvantage. I was self-conscious of wearing bright colors, but I wasn’t ready to go out and buy new, more monotone clothing. In the end I decided to pack my bag and hope for the best.

I landed in London for the first time in mid-February, so it was cold. I put on my bright blue jacket and hot pink scarf while waiting impatiently to get off the plane and began to think about my plans for my time in London. Suddenly, my thoughts were interrupted by a fellow passenger asking: “you’re not from here, are you?” I was startled because I hadn’t even opened my mouth to say a word in my definitely-not-British accent. When I looked startled he commented that it was my blue coat that had betrayed me.

I had flown to London excited about taking a break from constantly standing out while in Madrid, however I hadn’t even stepped foot on British soil before my hopes were shattered. Thankfully my disappointment didn’t last too long because I was reunited with my family and didn’t care as much about blending in. Although, I did end up ditching my blue coat for part of the time to wear a more stylish grey felt coat that I had brought in order to feel a little bit more “European.”

A few years later I returned to London not to visit, but as a student undertaking a degree program. With me in my luggage was the same blue coat that I had worn that day on the plane. However, this time I wore it, and the rest of my brightly colored wardrobe without a second thought. I have learned that London is a very diverse city, so being confident in who I am and what I wear is more important than worrying about standing out. Besides, there will probably be someone else on the street dressed in more eye-catching garb anyways.

London has HOW many airports?

By Rebecca Meagher

By Rebecca Meagher

There are 5 airports serving London: London City Airport, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton. Some are closer than others, however the closer airports may have more expensive flights.

There are at least two public transportation options from the center of London to each airport. With so many options it’s possible to choose the transport that works best for you.

London City (LCY) www.londoncityairport.com/visitingtheairport/page/publictransport

 

Heathrow (LHR)                                            www.heathrow.com/transport-and-directions

* Travel time of 15 minutes. The express train has a shorter trip, however it may be a more expensive option. Be sure to book in advance.

** Travel time between 31 and 49 minutes. Ticket to London Paddington 10.20 pounds. Only stops at terminals 2&3 or 4 with a free transfer train to terminal 5 from terminals 2&3.

***Pay as you go cost of 5.10 pounds during peak hours and 3.10 all other times.

Gatwick (LGW)                                                 www.gatwickairport.com/to-and-from/

* Travel time of 30 minutes. The express train has a shorter trip, however it is much more expensive

 Stansted (STN)                                       www.stanstedairport.com/getting-to-stansted/

*Unlike Gatwick and Heathrow, the Stansted express is the only rail option to the airport from the center of London

Tip: There are no water fountains in the terminal, but water bottles are available in return for a donation, so bring some change

 Luton (LTN)                                                                               www.london-luton.co.uk/to-and-from-lla

* There is a shuttle bus that takes you to the terminals from Luton Parkway train station. This is an additional  cash only cost if the ticket is booked to Luton Airport Parkway (LTN). The fare for this shuttle is included in all tickets booked to Luton Airport (LUA).

Paying in London

By Rebecca Meagher

By Rebecca Meagher

The UK uses the Pound, so it goes without saying that you’ll need to pay for everything in pounds. The logical solution to the USD to GBP problem is to exchange USD to GBP and pay with your new pounds. However, there are other options such as withdrawing cash from an ATM in the UK with your US debit card.

Although your bank most likely will charge you a flat fee for using a foreign ATM as well as for converting USD to GBP, this option may actually provide better rates than exchanging cash at the airport or at local exchanges. Some US banks even have relationships with foreign banks, which may wave the flat fee making this option even more cost-effective. Talk to your bank before you leave to see if this is an option.

It is also possible to use a credit card for almost all purchases. If you are a seasoned traveler, then you have heard of a thing called “transaction cost.” This is the cost a credit card company adds to each transaction made outside the US. Your credit card company also decides the exchange rate you will get, usually it’s about an additional 3% charge.

To make things easier there are credit cards that cater to travelers traveling abroad that feature zero transaction fees. If you don’t already have one of these, check with your bank or other providers to see if it makes sense for you to get one to use when you’re abroad.

Unlike the US, every single purchase, no matter how small, that you make with a credit card will require a signature (or a PIN). Be prepared for a somewhat bewildered person at the till if you need to sign, they aren’t always prepared for it because PINs are widely used in the UK for credit card purchases. 

When paying at a restaurant you may notice on your bill a charge called “service charge.” This is almost like a tip, however this charge does not always go to the restaurant staff, sometimes it just goes to the restaurant. If you do not want to pay this charge or you want to ensure your tip goes to your server, you may ask to have it taken off your bill then tip your server in cash.

London Transport isn't always so clear

By Rebecca Meagher

By Rebecca Meagher

In the center of London there are a few forms of public transportation: Tube, Bus, Bike.

Oystercards:

One of the first things that you should do when arriving in London (or even before arriving to London depending on how organized you are) is to get an Oystercard. This can be done a couple of ways:

  • at a tube station  

  • at certain local shops (just look for a sign out front with the logo).

To learn about the most convenient place for you to get your Oystercard as well as information on the additional Travelcard and Bus and Tram passes look here: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/where-to-top-up-and-buy-tickets
 

Tickets:

Although paper tickets exist, they are hardly realistic. A journey with a paper ticket often will end up costing you more! Oystercards and contactless cards can be used for pay as you go fares. Depending on your transportation use, this may be the most cost effective option for you. They can be used on the Tube, bus, DLR, Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, River Bus and many National Rail trips.

Pay as you go fares have a daily cap, which depends on the transport types you use. For example the Zone 1-6 cap is 12 pounds while the Zone 1 cap is 6.60 pounds. If you travel only twice a day on the Tube everyday it is recommended that you use pay as you go rather than a 7 Day Travelcard for the cost savings.

For others, 7 Day Travelcards may be more cost effective if you travel over four days a week. The 7 Day travel card works for unlimited travel if your travel includes Zone 1. They can be purchased at the Tube ticket machines or from Overground or TfL rail stations. Travelcards can also be bought online in advance.

In general, peak hours on all services other than the bus are from 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning and 4:00-7:00 in the evening. This is when rush hour is, so tickets are more expensive.

Tube

During the workweek the tube closes at varying times depending on the line, however they do not run all night. During the weekend certain tube lines have night hours, however the tube may not stop at every stop. When going out at night be sure to know how you are getting home. Nothing kills a night like a £50 taxi fee.

It’s worth noting that the tube can be very warm in the summer (and even during the winter), so make sure to remain sufficiently hydrated throughout your journey.

To learn more about the one way fare of you trip click here: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/fares/single-fare-finder?intcmp=1660
 

Bus

You must have an Oyster card or a Contactless to pay for a bus fare, they do not take cash. There are hopper fares when you make two journeys on a bus or tram within an hour which makes the second trip on the bus or tram free provided you do not take any other form of transport in between the two bus fares. If you don’t have enough credit on your Oyster card to pay the fare or your Travelcard has just expired, it’s possible to make one more journey on the bus despite the lack of credit.

If you prefer the bus or the bus is your most convenient form of travel, it is possible to purchase a 7 day bus and tram pass. This can provide cost savings if you make over 14 trips a week on the bus or tram.

There are a lot of moving parts to the prices of public transport in London, so take a look at the website to learn more! https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/

To learn more about caps: https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/oyster/using-oyster/price-capping

Bike

If you are up for a bit of a challenge, Santander bikes are a third option of transportation. There are bike ports on many street corners in London. For casual bike users you will need to have a credit card or debit card in order to take out a bike. This pay as you go method can give you 24 hour access to bikes for just 2 pounds, just keep the ride to less than 30 minutes increments . If you use the bikes regularly you should look into becoming a member for 90 pounds a year.

To learn more details on how it works see here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles/how-it-works

Don't forget to pack...

By Rebecca Meagher

By Rebecca Meagher

When spending time in London there are a few items that you should be sure to not leave behind.

 As we all know, London can get a bit rainy, so the first thing in your suitcase should be a mini umbrella that you can carry with you everywhere you go. However, rain boots aren’t all that necessary, so save space and pack something else. If you do decide you need rain boots you can find them in London super cheap, 10-15 pounds or so at stores such as H&M, Primark or Tiger.

 Despite its reputation for gloomy, rainy days, London can be  quite sunny at times. Do yourself a favor and pack a pair of sunglasses. Try to carry them with you at all times because you never know when the sun will pop out behind the clouds.

 A student ID can be surprisingly useful in London. Students often  get discounts on food, movie tickets, museum entrances, and shopping. It may not seem like a large saving opportunity, but it adds up!

 The sun doesn’t set until late, so that means there is plenty of time to explore London’s streets, parks, and museums. Comfortable shoes are a must.

 As you may know, British pounds are different from US dollars. Like the Euro, pounds have coins that actually matter. Make sure to have a wallet with a good change section, or at least a plan on how to deal with the loose pounds so you don’t make the costly mistake of misplacing any of the coins, the 2 pound coin can be worth up to $3 alone!

 

Accommodation tips and tricks

By Olivia Wisden

By Olivia Wisden

One of the attractive pulls to using a placement program for finding your internship is the fact accommodation is more often than not included in the price. Similar to all inclusive vacations, it's often nice to have one price tag that includes everything. Unfortunately, also similar to all inclusive vacations sometimes this price tag is severely inflated for what you are actually getting. 

This can mean that the accommodation that is included is not what you were expecting or not exactly convenient for your internship. This is the benefit of finding your own place. While you have to put in a bit more effort, you also are getting exactly what you want. And to help with this daunting task we've not only compiled a list of sites that locals use to find roommates and accommodation, we have created a list of tips and tricks we think will help narrow down the search.

  1. Figure out your price range. While this may seem obvious, going in known exactly how much you are will to spend on your housing before you start looking will greatly narrow your options.
  2. Consider alternative methods. Places such as Airbnb and hostels often offer discounts for users who book beds for weeks or months at a time. Check to see if this option is in your price range.
  3. Plan a "buffer" accommodation for when you get there. This means you have an address to go once you're off the plane and you have an address you can give a taxi or bus driver. We call it a buffer accommodation because it is often nice to search for your accommodation once you are in the city. This way you can meet flatmates, see the apartment, get a feel for the neighborhood and know how far you are from your internship without the stress of doing it online. 
  4. Don't be afraid to ask your internship if they know of anyone who is looking for a roommate. They are locals and know that you are coming to a new city and are wanting you to have the best experience possible. 
  5. Research the different neighborhoods in the city. Every city has neighborhoods that are great for one thing or another. Apart from your internship, your apartment is the place you will be spending most of your time so you want to make sure you like your neighborhood. A simple good search of "Best (insert city name) neighborhoods" will bring you to hundreds of blogs and websites that will give you their input. Do a bit of research so you know where to narrow your apartment search.

It's Not Too Late!

By Olivia Wisden

By Olivia Wisden

You may be thinking that it's too late to plan your summer international internship, but that is where I'll stop you. Do I recommend you start planning your international internship in May? No, I would not recommend it but at the same time it does not make it impossible. It just means that you have a busy month coming up.

My first recommendation is to plan for your internship to start mid to late June. This means that you can apply for the internship and visa and still have 6+ weeks to get organized. 

If you find that your dream internship is in London, you just got a bit more work ahead of you. First you will want to apply for your certificate of sponsorship through BUNAC ASAP. You do not need to have an internship planned to start your application, but you will need to have it secured for them to give you your sponsorship. There are other sponsorship programs but BUNAC is the quickest and easiest, though it does come with a $755 price tag. You will be able to talk with a BUNAC representative so be sure to tell them you are on a deadline. They will work with you to get your application processed quickly.

After you get your certificate of sponsorship you will have to apply for a Tier 5 Visa. BUNAC will provide assistance with the visa application but make sure you expedite your visa application since it can take upwards of 8 weeks otherwise.

Talk with your internship in London and see if you can begin working for them remotely while your visa processes. That way you are slightly familiar with the team and projects before you enter London on a later date.

If you find an opportunity in Dublin you are in luck! Unpaid internships in Dublin do not require visas if they are for less than 3 months. This means that all you have to do is buy your plane ticket and book your accommodation!  

For a comprehensive list of things you should plan before going to the other side of the pond check out our checklist made just for you!

A traveler's list

By Olivia Wisden

By Olivia Wisden

Every traveler will be able to give you a list of websites/apps/tools that they swear by when traveling. We have provided you with a short list of some of the favorites to get you started.


If you have any must-use sites you think others should know about click here to send us your recommendation! 

Babette Travel

By Olivia Wisden

By Olivia Wisden

The idea of Babette did not simply come out of desire to be the next big thing, or to be the next travel site or anything monetary. The idea of Babette came out of the simple, personal frustration of finding an international internship. I had already spent a summer at an amazing internship in Dublin and I thought I knew the steps I had to take in order to find my next dream internship. I spent the next 6 months trying to find an internship in London but kept running into the same issue: in order to apply to an internship I needed a visa, in order to get a visa I needed to provide an internship. I scoured the internet looking for the magic website I figured had to exist. I spent hundreds of hours researching and cold calling businesses asking if they would take me as an intern.  I realized that my options were either apply for a placement program or not go to London and since the later was not truly an option I went with another placement program.

This started me thinking, "Why is the only easy way of finding an international internship through a placement program? How is it possible that I can find everything I need on the internet except for the one thing I desired most?" I realized that if I was having these issues there had to be others who also had the same problems. I decided that because the website I wanted didn't exist, I would create it myself. And thus the seed idea of Babette was planted.

The goal of Babette is to put the power back in the hands of interns and internships. We provide the resources, free to users, to apply directly to your dream internship in your dream city. We believe that traveling is an imperative part of education and we want to make it more accessible to all. We work with companies that are working to better our world and create healthy work environments. We provide a range of resources, tools and information to make your experience 100% yours.