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Free Ways to Live Abroad – Yes, Really!

free ways to live abroad or overseas

Free Ways to Live Abroad

For you, living abroad is the dream, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. I understand this need for adventure and travel because I have it too, which it why I put everything in storage and traveled roughly 8,000 miles away to Chiang Mai, Thailand on my journey to becoming a Digital Nomad.

Of course, the Digital Nomad lifestyle isn’t for everyone. Maybe you’re looking for a more temporary option, or you want a lifestyle that allows you to immerse yourself in a culture for longer periods of time. Regardless of your wishlist, if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Here are my favorite free ways to live abroad.

TEFL

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Becoming a TEFL teacher is actually much easier than you might think. English fluency is one of the most highly-demanded skills in the world. Explore parts of the world you’ve always imagined such as Europe, Asia, and Africa and make a difference in students’ lives. This is one of the most common ways for twenty-somethings to live abroad, and I’ve met several TEFL instuctors who say it’s the best decision they’ve ever made.

In fact, I met two American TEFL teachers on their way back from Jakarta and Kaula Lumpur who each spent 2 years teaching English. I was astonished… two years? Did they ever miss home? Of course they did, but the man I met returning from Kuala Lumpur said something that really stuck with me: “Of course I miss my comfort zone, but one day I’m going to wake up and have no regrets about all the experiences I’ve had, and that, is probably the greatest feeling you can wake up to everyday.”

Damn. And that just destroyed all my worries about being homesick.

AuPair

Being an aupair is one of the most romatic jobs you can think of, right? Living in a magical country, working in the day, exploring a new city at night. At least that was always a dream to me after watching this movie. You can make that dream a reality by applying to many aupair agencies and programs such as Au Pair World. About 3 years ago I actually went through the application process through that company and although it didn’t work out, I only have good things to say about that company.

Many cities already have large established aupair communities so you can meet fellow nannies in the city you live in. Spain has a huge Au Pair culture and if making fellow Au Pair friends is a requirement for you, be sure to ask your agency or potential host family what the scene is like in that city. They know the area best and will be honest with you.

To see if the Au Pair life is the life for you, check out these blogs from real life:

AshleyAbroad.com

TheFunnyNanny.com

UltimateAuPair.com

AuPairConfessional

WWOOF Abroad

This fun acronym just got even fun-ner. Want to hop across the globe living on vineyards, olive groves, goat farms, or even beekeeping homes? Then your answer is definitely to WWOOF it.

Different from this, fans of The Office:

wwoof-whuph-the-office

WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In exchange for free housing, you volunteer on an organic farm for just a holiday, or long-term. You get to set your own dates and choose the host country you’d like to live and volunteer in.

There’s a huge community of current and past WWOOFers, and a lot of them exchange tips and stories in the r/WWOOF subReddit thread.

Work on a Cruise Ship

International cruise companies like Norweigian and Carnival are always actively recruiting young adults to live and work at sea. I’ve personally noticed these two cruise lines heavily using social media to find new talent and to promote their interview round ups in large cities. I lived in the Carnival port city of Charleston, South Carolina and I know of many occasions of large-scale hiring for basic positions.

Have a special talent such as performing? Audition to be an entertainer on board. I know an aquaintance who worked for Norweigian Cruise Lines and always posted the most incredible photos from his adventures – hiking Macchu Piccu or surfing in Hawaii – because of the opportunities that came from working for a cruise line.

Royal Caribbean Career Opportunities

Disney Cruise Line Careers

Princess Cruise Line Career Opportunities

Carnival Career Opportunities

SilverSea Career Opportunities

House Sit or Swap Homes

Yep, the movie The Holiday, is real! Well, sorta. If you do have a house to offer up, there are various websites that provide online classifieds for owners to advertise and meet potential sitters.(homeexchange.com,homexchangevacation.com or homebase-hols.com)

Or, if houseswapping isn’t your jam, join the online community of House Sitters

TrustedHousesitters.com $60 annual fee

MindMyHouse.com $20 annual fee

Nomador.com $89 annual fee

Although you’ll likely have to shell out some cash for a reputible agency, the amount of money you will save by not renting a home, hotel, or Airbnb is completely worth the upfront cost. And be sure to do your research on visa and immigration requirements beforehand!

With all of these free ways to live abroad, there’s really no excuse not to pursue living abroad if you really want to. Have you taken any of these routes to live abroad for free? Share your experience in the comments below!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Which Charleston Neighborhood is Right for You?

charleston neighborhoods

So you’re thinking about moving to Charleston, South Carolina huh? With Charleston being one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, you definitely want to choose a neighborhood that fits with your lifestyle and expectations.

Charleston Neighborhoods

West Ashley

avondale west ashley
Funky murals are Abundant in the Avondale neighborhood in West Ashley.

West Ashley is a great location west of Downtown on the Intracoastal Waterway. The Avondale area is a hotspot of several bars and businesses ranging from yoga studios to a wine and cheese shop.

Expect a mix of residents from families, young professionals, blue collar workers, retirees etc.

Cons: traffic. With affordable-ish rent, comes traffic.

Folly Beach

“Hey brah, do you love surfing and just relaxing, man?” Did you answer yes? Congratulations, you’re halfway to becoming a Folly Beach resident.

There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, local surf shops and unique stores along Folly’s main street strip. There’s also no shortage of outdoor watersports companies to rent paddleboards, kayaks, and the like to burn a few calories in South Carolina’s picturesque landscapes.

Cons: tourists in the summer + not in central location

James Island

If you can’t live on Folly Beach, then James Island is your second best bet. Relaxed vibes, beach hippies, young professionals and students dominate the JI scene. Just 10-15 minutes from the ocean, you can enjoy relaxed days by the tidal creeks and scenic views of Downtown Charleston from spots like Harborview Rd.

Cons: No central area for entertainment or nightlife.

Downtown

charleston neighborhood

Expect off the wall charm in Downtown Charleston. What you see in picturesque postcards is actually what Charleston looks like, I promise. Of course, the price to pay for walkability, stunning architecture, and a lively social life is hefty. Downtown Charleston is the most expensive neighborhood of the metro area. Expect to pay on average $800-1100 for a nice bedroom in an apartment, and above that range if you expect a 1 bedroom apartment to yourself.

Stroll through the Battery through elegant mansions and cobblestone streets and enjoy a picnic in Marion Square or Battery Park. Grab cocktails on Upper King Street or rooftop bars such as The Vendue or Pavillion Hotel.

Cons: Getting stuck behind horse carriages. 

Mount Pleasant

Young professional with a healthy salary and affinity for boat shoes and dress shirts? Perfect. Mount Pleasant is the place for you. Just as the moniker suggests, Mount Pleasant is, well, pretty pleasant. I’ve been priveledged to call Mount Pleasant home for the past year and I love it.

Situated perfectly between Downtown by the Ravenel Bridge and 2 beaches (Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island). Thanks to its attractiveness to young families and young professionals, this idyllic suburb is rapidly growing and so is the rent.

Cons: Not very walkable + rising rent costs

Park Circle

mixson charleston
At Mixson Bath & Racquet Club

In my opinion, Park Circle is the “next big thing” in terms of trendy Charleston neighborhoods. This area is the spot for fun twenty-somethings look for affordable rent in a growing neighborhood. A gem of a neighborhood for those looking to escape Charleston but aren’t willing to go into the suburbs as far as Summerville.

If you’ve got the extra income, become a member of Mixson Bath & Raquet Club, a polished community of restaurants, a market, and pool club.

Cons: You’re not “technically” in Charleston. Tomato, to-mah-to.

So pack your bags and head to Charleston. Honestly, the whole city is amazing, you can’t go wrong no matter where you live!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

A Beginner’s Guide to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

A beginner's guide blue lagoon

 

There are about a million and one blogs out there about the Blue Lagoon. I don’t pretend that I am an expert, but I recently visited this natural world wonder and I have a few tips to share with first-time visitors.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

If you’re headed to Iceland soon, the first thing you need to do is book your ticket to the Blue Lagoon. The second, is adding these other activities to your trip.

Let’s dive in, shall we? (Shameless Pun)

Bring Flip Flops to the Blue Lagoonblue lagoon iceland

Most items on this list are available for purchase at the Blue Lagoon, albiet at exorbitant prices. Want to save money? Pack your own flip flops. Most everyone walks around the property barefoot and if you’re any kind of germaphobe, you’re going to thank yourself for packing personal flip flips. Especially in the communal locker room and showers.

Rent a Robe or Bring Your Own

Again, same deal. Renting a robe at the Blue Lagoon will cost you an additional 10 Euro and a towel will run you 5 Euro. Instead, save that cash for a beer at the swim up bar 😉

blue lagoon rent towel cost

Paddle to the Swim Up Bar

swim-up-bar-blue-lagoon

There are several places to relax and refresh around the Blue Lagoon campus, such as the Lagoon Bar where you can imbibe in wine, beer, or a cold slushie or cocktail to cool you down in the warm water. The Lagoon bar is on the eastern side of the spa.

Wear Your Wristband With Pride

blue-lagoon-wrist-band

Thanks to the convenient wrist bands you receive upon arrival to the Blue Lagoon, you need not worry about carrying (or losing) soggy money throughout the spa. Simply have your wrist band scanned and the money will be automatically charged for you to pay at the end of the day. Nifty, huh?

Your wristband is also your key to get in and out of the changing rooms and unlock your individual locker. Be cautious to keep your band secure throughout the day and it’s probably a good idea to check your wrists a few times an hour to make sure it hasn’t fallen off. As you can see in my photo above, mine was not tight enough and I got lucky it didn’t fall off. If you lose the bracelet, a fee of ISK 5.000 will be charged, which is approximately $43 USD. Yeah, not fun.

Condition Your Hair

first time blue lagoon iceland

So this is a much-debated topic. There are 2 kinds of people in life: those who refuse to get their hair wet at the Blue Lagoon, and those who don’t G.A.F. and get up all in it, like me, as seen above. Some people say the lagoon water caused their hair to be damaged, dry, and crispy for days after. I didn’t have this problem, but I do highly encourage every Blue Lagoon-goer to heavily condition your hair and put it in a bun to protect your strands. I even went under a few times and had no issue with crunchy hair.

However, I did step inside the locker room a couple times to reapply conditioner as the day went on, I think that is a huge reason why my hair was so protected.

blue lagoon iceland

Bring a Waterproof Phone Case

These guys will save your life. Waterproof phone cases are available for purchase at the Blue Lagoon so if you forget yours, don’t fret. You can still take Pinterest-worthy photos in the water using the phone cases provided. Although, they look more like ziplock bags than anything. And you’ll see tourists carrying them around their neck around the spa.

 

Other Icelandic Geothermal Pools

Reykjavik geothermal spa
Laugardalur

If you fall in love with Iceland’s outdoor pool tradition, don’t stop at the Blue Lagoon, take a look at Reykjavik’s other spas. You’re likely to meet more locals, and they’re a fraction of the cost of the Blue Lagoon.

Árbæjarlaug –  Features an outdoor pool, indoor children’s pool, outdoor paddling pool, water slide and fountains for children, 3 hot tubs, a steam bath and sauna.

Laugardalur – AKA “Hot Spring Valley.” Want the hot water, without the steep price tag in conveniently located Reykjavik? This is the place for you.

Vesturbaejarlaug – Relax with the locals in the hot tubs, lap pool, and multiple heated pools.

Lagafellslaug in Mosfellsbaer – no tourists, just locals here. Indulge in a relaxation room, geothermal pool or steambath. Priced very cheap, about 500kr, approximately $4 USD.

 

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

What’s On My Packing List for Iceland

Don’t know what to pack for Iceland? After traveling there, these are the items I’m glad I brought and the ones I wish I brought! So what’s in my luggage and what should be in yours if you ever visit the Land of Fire and Ice? Keep readin’

 

Waterproof iPhone Case

I ordered this universal waterproof case because I know that I will be visiting the Blue Lagoon and hopefully a few glaciers and waterfalls such as the Gullfoss Waterfall. Knowing that I wanted to use my phone to take photos and document my adventures, I knew I needed something to protect my precious phone.

I found this case on Amazon for only $7.99 with free shipping! Whaaat? It has great reviews and comes in many colors. I ordered the pink version, naturally.

Waterproof Jacketwhat-to-pack-for-iceland

In the same notion as keeping everything as waterproof as possible, I had to bring my only waterproof jacket out of storage just for my trip. I live in Charleston, South Carolina where it’s always sunny and the lowest temperatures in the winter reach 40 degrees fahrenheit.

I haven’t worn a winter coat in 3 years, can you believe that? My jacket has the functionality of being a heavy jacket for cold weather, and with the quick zip on the zipper, you can take the heavy lining out. Voila! A lightweight waterproof jacket!

Basically bring anything waterproof and you’re good 😉

Sunglasses

what to pack to travel

Packing sunglasses for a trip to Iceland is smart for a few reasons.

Depending on what time of year you travel to Iceland, the sun can be out at all hours of the day – and night. In the winter, the sun is set really low in the sky which makes driving difficult. If you plan on doing the Golden Circle, sunglasses are a must!

With the reflection of the snow throughout the country, it’s also a great idea to protect your eyes with a pair of shades. And you’ll look cool doing it.

Swimsuit

This one of not a joke, I promise. Iceland is filled with natural springs and thermal pools, including the famous Blue Lagoon. I can’t wait to take a dip in the geothermal spas during my trip! Many hotels and Bed and Breakfasts also have hot tubs – it’s a national favorite!

Also don’t forget:

Power Adapter

Backpack

Layers of clothes

Boots

Extra pairs of warm socks

HAIR CONDITIONER (Especially if you’re going to the Blue Lagoon!)

 

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

So You Wanna Digital Nomad in Charleston?

digital nomad charleston

I have had the privilege of being a permanent resident of Charleston, South Carolina for almost 3 years now. And let me tell you, I am in love with this city. And it’s easy to see why Charleston is an exciting city to be a Digital Nomad. From the endless cafes, to being a hub for Young Professionals in the Southeast, Charleston is an ideal destination to spend a few weeks or months in while working on your entrepreneurial projects.

Digital Nomad in Charleston

digital nomad charleston

 

Although I am a resident, I’ve met several nomads who call this city “home” for a temporary, unset amount of time, and I can definitely see why. What’s known as “The Holy City” is certainly a desirable destination for digital nomads all over the world – and here’s why:

 

Silicon Harbor

The Charleston area is now affectionately known as Silicon Harbor – one of America’s fastest growing technology epicenters. There are many start ups and new businesses fostering a creative hub in the city and there’s no shortage of brilliant minds in this city to network and bounce ideas off of. Seriously! Everytime I turn around I make new connections and meet inspiring folks working toward their goals.

There’s even a Silicon Harbor magazine, check it out!

Modern Coworking Offices

digital nomad charleston

Coworking in Charleston has never been more exciting. New independent work spaces are popping up everyday, which is perfect for a Digital Nomad in Charleston. Here are my favorites:

Harbor Entrepreneur Center

Locations in Mount Pleasant, Summerville, Downtown Charleston, and North Charleston.

Local Works Charleston

Flagship

InnoLabs

Whether you’re building a company, or working on side projects, these coworking spots are an excellent place to brainstorm and find inspiration.

Endless Networking Events

digital nomad in charleston

Subscribe to Tech After 5 for up-to-date networking events. Brews and meeting new young professionals in town has never been more fun. When you attend a Tech After 5 event, you’re guaranteed to make new connections in the city and, who knows, you may find new jobs and opportunities! Bonus: You get a free beer at these events 🙂

Speaking of Young Professionals… join Charleston Young Professionals and gain access to the regions most powerhouse and up and coming young leaders. Yes, that could even mean YOU!

Reasonable Cost of Living… Comparitively

The good news: Charleston is cheaper than large cities such as San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C. or Los Angeles, but if you’re looking for a very cheap city to work remotely from, Charleston may not be that place for you. However, if you know where to look and are willing to live outside the city center, it’s easy to make your money go further.

Expect to spend $700 – $900+ renting a bedroom in Downtown Charleston. However, if you live Downtown, you won’t need a car, and you can bike or uber to almost any bar, coworking space, or tourist destination. And, trust me, the are plenty of historic sites, and nationally-acclaimed restaurants just minutes from wherever you are.

Also check out these neighborhoods: Park Circle, James Island, Mount Pleasant

Want to learn more about calling Charleston home for a little while? View NomadList’s review of Charleston as a Digital Nomad hostpot.

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Best Day Trip Activities in Asheville, North Carolina

asheville activities

Living in the Eastern United States, I have always heard incredible things about the town of Asheville, North Carolina. With the mountains, the craft beer, and the weirdness all combined, I knew it was a destination I needed to visit.

 

asheville north carolina

So when I hopped off the plane from London and switched my phone off ‘airplane mode,’ one of my girlfriends had sent me a text asking if I wanted to go to Asheville the next day.

I was so exhausted from traveling, but it was January 3rd, and you know what my New Year’s Resolution is? JUST SAY YES.

Just commit.

You will look back on your experiences and remember all the fun you had with your friends, or solo, and not that you were tired.

So these are the best activities in Asheville, North Carolina:

1. Journal at a Local Coffee Shop

asheville coffee shop

There are many locally-owned coffee shops throughout Downtown Asheville.

I walked to High Five Coffee on 13 Rankin Avenue, one of the town’s most beloved coffee shops for a simple Americano. I plopped down at one of the wooden tables and make my self comfortable. I stayed so long journaling and people-watching, that I decided to order another, this time I asked for the Barista’s Choice.

As I made friends with the (admittedly cute) Barista, he explained that he was making me one of the most popular drinks – the Diablo Cubano. With hints of cayenne and cinnamon, it was the perfect punch to leave on a high note.

While I didn’t snap a photo of my Diablo Cubano, while obsessing over their Instagram, I found the recipe to another Barista Favorite, the “Short and Stout.” OH. MY. GOD.

high five coffee

Recipe:

Reduction of Highland Brewing Black Mocha Stout in browned butter caramel
🍶 steamed with milk
☕️ in a Counter Culture Coffee Cortado
🍚 topped with sea salt and served with a chocolate-covered pretzel

yummm.

2. Pubcycle Tour

Pack your poison of beet or wine and get ready to see Asheville like you’ve never seen before – by Pubcycle! Think a giant bicycle/carriage that seats 10 new friends while getting a little buzz.

Tip: If you’re visiting Asheville between October and March, book your trip during the day when the sun is out. I made the mistake of going at night in January and no amount of beers can warm you up that much. Brrrrr.

Pubcycle Asheville NC

 

3. Before I die Wall

before i die asheville

Purchase a piece of chalk from the Keeper of the Before I Die Wall, Happy, who is a United States Veteran.

Read a little more about “Happy” aka Earl Gray HERE.

Photo: Paul Clark / Citizen Times
Photo: Paul Clark / Citizen Times

 

#4 Biltmore Estate

biltmore mansion asheville

When you think of Asheville, North Carolina, you think of the Biltmore Estate. And for good reason. Spend an entire day exploring the mansion and its grounds. Eat lunch by the lush gardens and walk around the expansive wine cellar and take home a couple bottles.

Visit during the Christmas season for a spectacular holiday treat filled with joy and Christmas wonder. Nothing compares to Christmas at the Biltmore!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Why I Feel Safe Renting on Airbnb as a Single Female

feel safe renting on airbnb

I have been Airbnb-ing my apartment for approximately 10 months and each and every time it comes up in passing someone always asks me:

“Do you ever not feel safe? Like someone is going to steal your things or ruin your apartment?”

Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the people who ask me if I feel safe are my girl friends. I’ve had almost 100 Airbnb experiences while renting my apartment – from being in the space with my guests, to leaving the apartment completely to them during their stay.

And guess what?

I always feel safe renting on Airbnb. Here’s why:

Verified Identities You Can Trust

rent your house airbnb

Since its launch, the company has added consumer and host protections and worked to make online profiles. These profiles can have the added layers of verification such as character recommedations from friends or family, and validating your identity by linking your Facebook profile, email address, scanning your ID and other forms of identity verification.

I can absolutely say that you can rent and host with confidence in the sharing economy home rentals.

Learn more about Airbnb’s Trust and Safety right here.

Rely on reviews from fellow renters

In addition to relying on personal profiles on Airbnb, you have the added protection of reading reviews from fellow hosts and travelers.

Hosts can learn more about how travelers left houses of previous trips. I.e. did the renter completely trash the place or break things without replacing them? A review from that homeowner will likely let you know what kind of tenant that traveler is. Allowing you to trust that your home is in good, responsible hands.

Travelers can also expect the same amount of protection from reviews. You can read all about the host from renters just like you! Get a feel of the vibes at the home and owner and learn if they cook breakfast for you, are easy to communicate with, and if you feel comfortable sharing a house with them for either a short or extended period of time.

safe on airbnb as femaleAsk No-Obligation Questions

Airbnb’s built-in messaging system makes it easy to communicate between hosts and renters before booking. This way, if you get a total creep vibe you can move along with no consequences. Questions to and from are no-obligation, and you can communicate without having to add in a payment method beforehand. Features like this on the platform keep my feeling safe renting on Airbnb.

Airbnb’s Host Insurance Protection

feeling safe renting airbnb

The Host Protection Insurance program provides primary coverage for Airbnb hosts and landlords, as additional insureds, in over 15 countries. The program protects against liability claims up to $1 million  that occur in a listing, or on an Airbnb property, during a stay.

Read more about Host Protection Coverage HERE.

TLDR:

Look, Airbnb and the entire sharing economy is built entirely on trust. And just like all businesses, there are going to be people who take advantage of that. However, the overwhelming majority of those who participate in Airbnb as guests or homeowners are trustworthy and honest. Over 60 million guests have had safe, positive experiences staying on Airbnb, and I firmly believe that you will too!

Want to save $30 on your next Airbnb trip? Click the photo below!

airbnb discount code

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

The One Time of Year to Avoid Visiting London

travel to london

London is a beautiful city enriched with history, culture, and breathtaking culture. It’s also a city that is pleasant to visit all year round. Except for one time of the year…

Christmas.

When I traveled across the pond to London, I was expecting any other holiday filled with making new friends, bustling bars and pubs, and tasting food at a variety of restaurants.

Little did I know that Christmas would be the most inopportune time to fulfill those expectations. And now I want to let other travelers know when to avoid visiting London – if they’re expecting many places to be open.

Now don’t get me wrong. Any chance you get to travel to London – take it. It’s a magical city that never disappoints. However, here are some reasons why you may want to avoid Christmastime if you can.

Why?

Most Pubs are Closed

london pubs

In America, on holidays, even Christmas Day, you can expect many bars, theaters, and restaurants open for at least a portion of the day. In large cities, almost all tourist-driven places are open and bustling.

Which was why it was such a surprise to me that I had the most difficult time finding restaurants and pubs to meet locals and have a good time and enjoy good grub.

Hotels are an excellent place to go when the rest of the city is shut down. Find the hotel bar and chat with fellow travelers and make friends with the bartenders if it’s not too busy.

The St. Giles Hotel is 1 block from Tottenham Court road in SoHo has a great bar and also a casino if you’re feelin’ lucky.

Closed Public Transportation

london subway closed

During my recent jaunt to London, I had the idea of taking the Eurostar from London to Paris.

The Eurostar is Closed

Want to explore the city or actually find an open bar a few neighborhoods away?

Think again.

The tube will be closed, busses don’t run, and almost all taxis will be off the roads as well.

Be sure to check the www.tfl.gov.uk website before traveling over the holidays in London.

 

Museums and Tours Closed

london travel
Buckingham Palace on Christmas Day. Tours were closed, but you can still walk around outside!

Almost all of London’s attractions close for at least one day over Christmas, and many close from December 24th to the 26th, and depending what day Christmas falls on, possibly December 27th.

Be aware that many businesses and attractions have modified opening hours on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Of course, this advice of when to avoid visiting London is purely based on my experience. And I can’t wait to see the city in the summer months!

What should I put on my itinerary the next time I visit London? Let me know in the comments!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Why the London Tube is Perfect for Beginner Travelers

the-london-tube

I’ve experienced my fair share of public transportation in my home country of the United States. New York City, Washington D.C. and many other cities have great public transportation, but I’ve never been to happier to experience the London Tube.

I’d say navigation comes naturally to me, so when I was briefly living in New York City, I couldn’t quite understand how tourists and locals alike couldn’t quite get a hang of the subway.

 

For any first-time traveler who’s nervous about getting around the city, I highly recommend making London your first introduction into public transportation.

Location, Location, Location

London double decker bus

While choosing either your hotel, or semi-permanent residence during your time in London, be sure to choose somewhere near a tube station.

During my visit to London, I stayed in the Soho area near Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road.  After I had visited all my neighborhood hotspots such as the British Museum and Oxford Street on Boxing Day, I bought an Oyster Card and was on my way.

To learn more about the Oyster Card the best practices of use, read this blog.

picadilly circus platform

Clean and Quiet

The famous London Underground was the first underground railway in the world, and now stands as one of the most impressive public transportation services in the world.

I was shocked at how pristine the tube cars are in the London Underground. Even the seats were covered in fabric – what?! Definitely not used to that in the New York City subways or Washington D.C. Metro.

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Fewer Delays and Reliable Routes

I rarely heard of anyone experiencing delayed trains or cancelled routes. And I adore that if you accidentally get off at the wrong stop, the next train will promptly come back along within 2-7 minutes. Just hop back on and continue to your destination!

Easy to Read Rail Maps

I mean, it’s next to impossible to mess up! As long as you know which platform you need to get off, riding the tube is a breeze.

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If public transportation or bustling cities in general make you a little flustered, I highly recommend making London your first big city visit! Especially for English-speakers, I found all staff very helpful and friendly.

Have you experience better public transportation than London? Give me your thoughts in the comments!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!