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Tom's London Tips

PACKING LIGHTLY - Spending more time on organising your suitcase can help you to realise that the first time you pack, you have probably taken too much. When you have selected the clothes that you think you would like to take, lay them out on the bed, and try to cut this amount down by half.

PACK SMARTLY - As opposed to folding your clothes when you, pack, roll them. When you arrive at your hotel, hang your clothes upright in the bathroom, the steam shold make the creases fall out.

TAXI -It 's always a pain after a flight, when you have to stand for what seems like an eternity in a queue waiting for a taxi. It's likely that the rest of the people from your flight, and many other flights, also are waiting in the same queue, so instead, go to the departure area to get your taxi instead, and get in one in which has just dropped somebody off

INTERNET - If you need internet access but are unable to find an internet café, many of the new phone boxes are equipped with broadband access.

WATCH OUT - Be prepared to encounter a great deal of sarcasm. The British are terribly fond of it

PUB TIPPING - Tipping is not a particularly common practice in the UK. However, if you've rather enjoyed your service, then you may feel compelled to tell the bar person to "have one for yourself .

RESTAURANT TIPPING - Restaurants often include service but if not a tip of 10% should be sufficient, unless of course, you were unhappy with the service.

TOURIST PASSES - I find that I can save a lot of money by taking advantage of the various deals like the tourist passes, because the fact you only pay one price that allows you to enter many of the main attractions, and the more you visit, in reality, the more money you save. LIAM S., DARLINGTON

FAST TRACK - One perk of the special tourist passes besides saving money is the ability to miss the notorious British attraction queues. The fast track system allows you to enter the attraction directly as you don't have to wait in line for a ticket. This means you have more time to spend inside the building, see more of London, and visit other attractions. STU Mc., LONDON

LONDON EYE - As enjoyable as I found the London Eye, the queue was way too long considering how long I spent on the eye. It was only when a friend told me that pre-booked tickets (best done over the internet) can be collected at a deserted ticket machine found inside the ticket office (the old country hall building), this means you can avoid the misery of the 30 minute wait! STU Mc., LONDON

THE CANALS - I suggest you take advantage of the canals which stretch the whole width of London, for example the famous Regent's Canal has a path on its banks that stretches from Little Venice to Camden, and then into King's Cross, where you can find the canal museum. The canals are so useful but its an opportunity to see London from a different viewpoint. I suggest taking advantages of the narrow boat tours offered by some companies on the canal, complete with a guide to point out the interesting sights on the banks of the canal. Walter S.

SHOPPING - One of the best tips I can offer from my experience is when shopping on Oxford Street; take a break in St Christopher's Palace. It's like an oasis away from the hustle bustle of the high street. The area is extremely serene and often used as a backdrop for some movies. The nearest tube is Bond Street. Sharon J., Ryton

PANORAMA - I decided that I wanted a panoramic view of London, but I didn't have the money, or the time, left to visit the London Eye. Instead, I walked a little further to the Balconey of the Royal Festival hall. Get yourself a coffee on the second floor, and you'll find it's the perfect spot to watch the Thames, and stick about to see the sun go down! Its open from 10am until 10pm. Liam S., Darlington

ST. CATHERINES - If you get sick of all of the concrete and people pushing past you, make tracks for St Catherine's, a little known and most beautiful part of this city. Complete with peace and quiet, its so serene you'd mistake it for the country side! Its not too far from the tower of London, and its almost like another world from the rest of London. Highly recommended! Watch the yachts, feed the ducks, and drink some tea! This was the highlight of my trip to London. Rhiannon S.,

WINES - Interested in wines? There's a new attraction on the south bank called Vinopolis, near to Shakespeare's globe, and despite the expense, it offers some fantastic unique and special wines!

TRAVEL PASS - If you want to save money on your travel, buy a pass for however long your there for, i.e. a day pass, weekend pass, weekly etc. You can use this pass on busses, trains, tubes and even the DLR, so it is bound to save you some money. To buy any travel card longer than a daily, you'll have to get a picture card. Just take a passport photo and proof of ID to any train station and they'll sort it out. A travel card will save you an incredible amount of money in the long run. Patrick P., London

TUBE MAP - One of the essentials you must carry around with you is a tube map, not only does it allow you to see how you can get from A to B, it works like a map as in you can see where everything is in relation to each other. The design of the tube map was so brilliant it has been adopted by just about every other mass transit system across the globe, so keep one on you! Liam S., Darlington

WESTMINSTER ABBEY - With Westminster Abbey being such popular tourist highlight, you have to prepare yourself to stand in line for some time! If you are unlucky because you have arrived after the arrival of a few busses full of travellers, well waiting time can easily be more than an hour. But of course this can't be a reason not to visit this magnificent Church; it is really a "must-see". Liam S., Darlington

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