It's a good idea to prepare them.
This summer we spent 2 months in the UK. 4 weeks were spent in London. My glorious much loved London.
My son is 13. My daughter is 10.
My son... Well. He didn't like London. At all.
You read that right, Should I retype it.
My son didn't like London.
HOW? CAN. THIS. BE?
Let me give you a quick little synopsis. I travel to London, and other countries, quite regularly, like more than twice a year, I love to travel. And recently, I have included my children. They LOVE to fly, they love to travel, and the seriously love to explore. This was their first trip out of the United States though. They loved that experience, they loved the plane ride, they loved sight seeing and they loved all of the cool places we went in London. They loved Ireland and they loved Corby (A smallish town, in Northhamptonshire),
So what's the problem you ask?
First keep this in mind, being a typical American family, we live in the suburbs, we come from Austin, a good sized city, but my children have never used public transportation. If we want to go somewhere, we drive. Most of America does. Most places are so spread out, and so far away, we just hop in our car and drive from store to store, from school to school. We sight see... We travel. We rent more cars. Sure, we do walk... But we don't use public transportation. At all. We have never needed to. In fact, I can only think of one person, that I personally know, that takes the bus. Everyone else owns a car. You can't exactly fit an entire family on the back of your bike, not to mention that Texas is a very HOT state, very few people want to ride a bike in 100 degree heat.
That being said, I told my children all about London.
But I left one thing out, I didn't even think about.
My son absolutely freaked out the first time we got on the tube (If you don't know, that's the underground, public subway system in London). He said people were "touching" him, and by touching, he meant they were brushing against him. I was actually taken back, and told him they weren't trying to be rude, they were all trying to get on the train before it left, and that many people were trying to fit into one smallish area.
At every single opportunity, he wanted to take the bus. Also a new form of transport, but he felt some how less violated. He also loved being at the top of the double deckers. I have used the bus on many occasions in London, but only to a few places, I mostly use the underground, if I can, as it's fast. This trip though, I learned the bus system pretty well.
It wasn't just the crowded underground trains, he didn't like the huge crowds in general.
You should have seen his face when he saw the crowd of people at Oxford Circus, he actually looked at me wide eyed and said "Mom we aren't getting off here are we??"
Here is the crowd...
Looking at this photo now, I do think to myself, "That's a lot of people", but it's summer in London. It's a busy city on the coldest and wet days, in the middle of winter. So you can imagine, summer is a sea of endless human bodies!
No matter what part of London you're in...
We could barely move in the Natural History Museum
Because I'm absolutely in lust with London, I have never considered any of the "bad" sides when addressing visiting this great city. I told my children about the phenomenal history, the culture, the tourist sites, the buildings, the diversity and the people... I did even tell them about the underground trains, but alas, I forgot to mention just how vast and crowded London is. It just never occurred to me, that it might be a problem.
My son wants to go back to England, but he doesn't want to visit London. He said "There are too many people". When I think about London, from his point of view, I can see what he means. My guy doesn't like crowds of people to start with, he's kind of a home body. I think this is mostly due to him being ill for so many years, until we recently discovered he had a dairy allergy, he was honestly sick almost daily. Poor guy. And though he's feeling really great these days. He still detests crowds. And well... that's okay. Some of us love the Country life, and some of us love the beach. And then there are some of us, that don't mind feeling like a herd of cows being rounded up, when the train pulls into whatever tube station, you are lucky enough to be standing in.
Live and Learn.
If you are planning a trip to London with your children, and they or you have never been to a city of millions, You will be bumped, brushed against and sometimes shoved. On the tube you will most likely either have a butt or armpit in your face, especially if you hit the train around rush hour (take my advice and miss that time of day) and you will run into crowds of hundreds and hundreds of people, especially in the summer. These are things I don't mind. Because the pros in London, far outweigh the cons.
As of 2015, there are 8.63 million people living in London, that doesn't count the people that commute in for work. Compare that to where you currently live, and decide how that stacks up. Then prepare your children accordingly!
I hope you're having a fantastic week!