For a city that has stood for many centuries, London is often surprisingly easy to get around for seniors. There are few steep hills in the UK's capital city. Although bustling, many of the city's streets have broad side-walks and the traffic is controlled in many areas allowing pedestrians easy points to cross the road, so exploration by foot is easy. Nevertheless, there are some pitfalls that senior travelers can fall into when staying in London that are easy to avoid once you know how. For many travelers in the over 55 age range, a trip to London can be the vacation of a lifetime, so making sure that you are street smart will not only afford you peace of mind, but help to prevent unwanted problems during your stay.
Many of London's luxury hotels are situated in the West End of London. Since many seniors are on a long-planned trip, staying in style is likely to be on the agenda. World-famous London hotels like the Ritz, the Dorchester and the Mandarin Oriental all offer five star luxury in the West End. The West End of London means the western part of the central district and encompasses areas like Westminster, Piccadilly and Mayfair.
Although London has many hotels in other parts of the city, those toward the eastern side are near to the financial districts and these tend to cater for the needs of business people, not seniors on vacation. Having said that, many hotels offer discounts on weekends when they tend to be less busy, worth bearing in mind if you plan to move around during your stay.
Plenty of hotels in the city are geared up for the additional needs that senior travelers have. This might mean providing step-free access into the building, for example. Many London hoteliers choose to train staff specifically for helping older guests and this can include the use of specialist equipment, if needed. If you have a mobility impairment, then asking for a room on the ground floor is often all that is required to ensure that the hotel staff pay particular and discreet attention to your specific needs. Services like induction loops for hard of hearing guests are commonplace.
Like nearly all Londoners, traveling by public transport makes the most sense for older tourists to explore the city. Car travel is quite possible, but with congestion charges which are levied by the Mayor of London and the slow-moving traffic, most visitors opt for the Underground network, or Tube as it is commonly referred to. The tube network is easy to understand and navigate.
Concessionary fares for visiting seniors on rail and Tube services tend to mean registering with your passport and filling out lengthy forms. However, if you buy a travelcard — which gives you unlimited travel for either a week or a day — from an overground railway station, you will obtain many 'two for one' discounts for some of London's best attractions. Since many of London's major rail terminus stations also have direct access to the Tube — such as Victoria, King's Cross and Paddington — buying one and taking advantage of the offers via the underground is easy. With a travelcard, you can get to many of London's most famous sights in one day simply by heading to the nearest Tube station, such as Buckingham Palace at Green Park or Big Ben at Westminster. They also allow access to overground train services within the capital and London's famous red buses.
When traveling on the Tube or on a London bus, certain seats are designated as a priority. This usually means that Londoners will freely give them up to a senior, someone with a disability or a pregnant woman, which tend to be located closest to the exit.
London is an extremely safe city, especially for visitors, but problems do occur. Thankfully, street robbery and mugging is very rare, but distraction theft is on the rise. This is the practice of someone engaging you, perhaps by asking for help, while an accomplice attempts to pickpocket you and unfortunately older people tend to be targeted. Nothing more than remaining vigilant is all you need to combat this crime.
The Metropolitan Police advise tourists to keep valuables in a safe rather than in their room and to keep cameras and handbags in front of them rather than slung over their shoulders. Money socks can also be a good option for hiding away some of your cash. Seniors sometimes have trouble getting used to the traffic being the left hand side of the road, so use a crossing point, where the cars must stop, to avoid any unwanted collisions. In order to get complete peace of mind, ensure that you and your belongings are fully covered by an adequate insurance policy such as those available from Allianz Global Assistance.