London! Home to Big Ben, the Thames River and almost nine million souls, the UK capital is a veritable melting pot of languages, cultures and things to do and see. Unfortunately, due to its inflated size and the sheer laws of mathematics, it also harbours more ne’er-do-wells than your average town or village.
That doesn’t mean you need to wrap yourself in cotton wool when working, studying or visiting the city, however. London is generally a very safe to place to navigate, even at night, though it never hurts to keep your common sense and your wits about you. Here are some top tips for helping you to stay safe after an evening at the theatre, a night on the tiles or a session of burning the midnight oil.
Know your route
First and foremost, know which route you need to take well in advance of leaving the pub / club / home / office / other place at which your night has come to an end. There’s nothing worse for advertising your status as “lost” than whipping out Google Maps on the street and staring at your phone for too long.
Though generally safe, it’s not a good idea to walk around London at night, especially on your own. Quite aside from the safety factor, it’s also a major capital city – if most journeys take upwards of an hour via public transport, just imagine how long they’ll take on foot. If necessary, call a taxi in advance of your departure time (just remember that Uber no longer has a license to operate in the capital).
Take out headphones
Listening to music might make the journey go faster, but it also inhibits your spatial awareness and makes it harder for you to know what’s going on around you. Turn off Spotify and tune in to your surroundings to make sure you stay extra safe.
Keep your belongings close
This is just plain good advice any time of the day, but the Tube can get pretty packed late at night – which is a perfect time for pickpockets to thrive. Keep any bags zipped up tight and held in front of you, and avoid having valuables in baggy pockets which allow easy access.
Stay in touch
Arrange to call or message your friends to let them know you got home safely and vice versa. If you don’t hear from each other, you can chase them up and nip any problems in the bud right away.
Don’t miss the last connection
Depending on the night of the week and the route you plan to take, the Tube might close well earlier than the pub or club you’re frequenting. As a general rule, the last train leaves around midnight (though that has changed for certain lines). Be aware of night bus timetables to pick up the slack if need be.
Choose your neighbourhood well
If you aren’t familiar with the layout of London prior to choosing your accommodation, it can be a little tricky to pick a safe and secure neighbourhood. Our handy blog on the subject can give you some ideas about how to search for your ideal place.