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[OT] Travel Planning Apps and London Public Transport   [OT]

By: Andrew Watson     Perth, Western Australia  
Date: Jul 26,2018 at 23:34

Here is an email I just sent to our friends. It is very off topic for this web site but some readers may find it useful.

We're going to London next week for 17 days. Because we have been there so many times before we are trying to find places we haven't been to before so I have been researching itinerary planning apps.

Any suggestions of esoteric, off the beaten track, must see sights welcome.

For example, almost every romantic movie set in London has a scene where they sit on a bench on a hill looking out over the city. It seems that this is at Hampstead Heath so we are going to go there.

Another example, is the concrete dinosaurs at Crystal Palace. They were created in mid-1800s so they aren't anatomically correct but interesting nevertheless.

We are probably going to make day trips to Oxford, Cambridge and/or Brighton by bus (Megabus not National Express) because trains are very expensive, eg to Oxford MB GBP12, NE GBP18, train GBP32. Suggestions for day trips welcome.

Also, I have been researching the most economical way to use tube and buses in and around London.

Sygic Travel Planning Web Site


PC version is free. Phone app is pay.

Shows icons of sights on map of places of interest. Click to see summary. Click to see full details. Add to Favorites. Icon surround turns red to make it stand out. Can add own Favorites. Once you have selected all sights you can filter to only show Favorites and then you can add them to itinerary for each day in geographical order and it will create walking route.

You could save to PDF and access on phone or buy app and it will give walking directions. Map can be saved to phone so don't need to have mobile data.

Phone Itinerary Apps

If you use Gmail, Google Trips app will have read airline itinerary and will display. Also has list of sights at destination.

Tripit does same thing. If you allow it, it can read email. Alternatively, you can forward itinerary email to specified email address. Has list of sights.

Use credit card on London Transport rather than Oyster Card or, heaven forbid, cash.

All bus fares cost GBP1.50 per trip. There are free transfers for 1 hour after first boarding. If bus route is curtailed because say bus breaks down or driver is going off shift when you are close to or beyond 1 hour free transfer limit you should ask driver for transfer ticket.

Tap on when boarding. Do not tap off when exiting because you will be charged second fare.

You cannot use cash on buses.

You should use credit card (contactless) to tap on because Oyster Card has GBP4.50 daily cap, ie GBP31.50/week, whereas credit card has GBP21.20/week cap.

If you're going to be doing a lot of bus travel and not much tube travel you should use different credit card for tube because tube caps are much higher, eg travel in zones 1 and 2, which is most likely, the credit card cap is GBP34.10 and Oyster Card cap is GBP47.60.


NEVER use the same card to travel from Heathrow which is in Zone 6 because that blows out daily cap to GBP12.50 and weekly cap to GBP62.30.

If you are travelling from Heathrow (or anywhere outside Zone 2) to central London see if you can get off in Zone 2 and walk (or bus) into Zone 1 because fares are significantly higher. For example to Notting Hill Gate is GBP5.10/3.10 peak/off peak and to Holland Park which is only 600m away is GBP2.80/1.50.

Never use cash because that will cost GBP6.00 or GBP5.90 at any time.

Note that cap week starts on Mondays.

Should always use no annual fee credit cards with no foreign currency transaction fees such as 28 Degrees CC, Citibank Plus debit card or BankWest Zero Platinum CC. Even if you don't have foreign currency transaction fees free CC and you have to pay approx 6% fee it's still better than Oyster Card.

Try and travel on tube off peak (peak is 0630 to 0930 and 1600 to 1900 weekdays only) because individual Oyster Card fares are, and daily caps can be, different. Weekly CC cap doesn't differentiate between peak and off peak.

Note that contactless means chip and PIN card. Not sure whether stupid chip and signature cards used in USA will work. They do discuss this issue on TfL website.

TfL = Transport for London

Andrew Watson

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