I will begin this post by stating the obvious about my journey to the UK or US. These countries are not what many people think. As tourist destinations, other nations outclass them. Knowing this didn’t dissuade me from visiting and definitely will not discourage you either. So, I shall attempt to provide a few subjective insights to make your journey to the UK or US pleasant.


The formula for enjoying a trip abroad is pretty much the same in any developed country. First, accommodation (if you aren’t staying with friends or family of course). Before you go, do a search online or ask around for the major shopping district or city centre. It’s a street or region that embodies the city’s sights and sounds. For example, during my journey to the UK & US, that was Oxford Street in London and 5th Avenue in New York.

It will be expensive to stay in the actual area, but the trick is to look for a hotel/apartment a few minutes away by public transport. That way, you’re safely inured from the hustle and bustle, while saving on accommodation expenses. You’re also minutes away from shopping, cinemas, spas, eateries, tourist attractions, train stations, you name it! Finding the ideal place to stay is absolutely key when you go on vacation. I always look for a hotel close to a cinema or bookstore. Yes, I love books and movies.


Next, communication. For business travelers, you may find it useful to roam your country phone (for those important bank alerts and OTPs), while having another phone/sim tray for a local line. Buy a sim and top up on credits at the airport when you arrive. Be sure to ask for special offers. If you plan to visit the country frequently on business, it may be cheaper for your host to get a contract line or bundled minutes. 


There are some cities that have great public transportation networks e.g. Singapore and London. Go to a train station and buy a pay-as-you-go card or travel card for a fixed period. It works on both trains and buses and saves you from having to count out the exact change for every trip. If you’ll be going out frequently, then the travel card is a better option. But if you plan to revisit the city, the pay-as-you-go option may be a safer bet. You can top it up and use it for years.

On your first day in a new city, I suggest a guided city tour to get a feel of the city before striking off on your own. You’ll find many tours online or through your hotel. During tourist season, book a few days in advance for the most popular tours.

London reminds me of Singapore with its multitude of bicycles! It makes sense when you remember that Singapore was once a British Colony. The architecture and feel is the same. You can stroll to most places as everywhere is connected!

At the train station, everyone rushes to the train platform. Why I don’t know. There’s a train about every 10 minutes, so what’s the hurry? Maybe it’s to get away from the cold. But the rush is disconcerting. It may be difficult to de-stress in a modern city. 

Like in all developed cities, there are directional signs everywhere and many things are automated, though there’s no harm in asking for help when you need it. Many service positions are manned by young, friendly and earnest people. Don’t forget to leave a tip!


To my amazement, people in London really love to eat, and they do so while standing, walking, relaxing in the park or leaning against a wall. This is truly the city of sandwiches. And yet everyone seems so trim. Maybe because they walk about so much.

I love pie so I proceeded to sample a different type each morning at the nearest café. Then I tried my first gourmet pizza. When I attended a Brand Conference in London (where I was the only black participant), one of the speakers from Pizza Express so extolled the virtues of their gastronomic delights, that I had to taste one. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed!

Whenever I travel, I never have issues with food. I love rice based dishes so I can do Italian (pasta), as well as Chinese and Thai (rice and chicken). Tap water is safe to drink in the UK, but I noticed that when I asked for tap water with my meal at restaurants, I got side glances that said, “Don’t be a cheapskate.” 

For bar hoppers, there’s a pub on almost every corner.

City Sights

The London monuments were a bit underwhelming. Apparently movies and pictures make them larger than life. At the Tower of London, I took one look at the “family jewels” (replicas?) and thought, “Is this it?” By the way, I will never do the London Eye again. Maybe, it’s an activity for photographers, but it’s incredibly slow and boring. Madam Tussaud’s was worth every penny though. 

I came across some intriguing business names in London – Jupiter, a financial services firm with the payoff – We are on this planet to perform! Also, The Couch Bar, Eat and St. Mary’s Axe.

My journey to the UK & US taught me there are offers everywhere! In the shops, you’re asked to buy two for the price of one. At a time, I felt like shouting, “It’s my money! I don’t want two!”

Suffice to say, I did all the usual touristy stuff in London, which I won’t bore you with. Unfortunately, I didn’t do much shopping. I did that in the US, as things are much cheaper there. But London has more style.

During my trip to the UK, I visited the sleepy town of Bradford to see family. It’s a former industrial town with a university. I also visited Saltaire in West Yorskshire (Aire: River, so…Salt River). It’s a UN Heritage site built by a miller who used the river as a source of hydro-electric power. I’m going to be impolitic by mentioning that Bradford is cheekily known as the Islamic Community of Bradford or Bradistan because of the large Middle Eastern Population there. If so, then Peckham should be known as little Nigeria.


During my journey to the UK & US, I noticed the British exude a sense of responsibility, politeness, order and quiet efficiency. They mind their business, but can be helpful. They do unglamorous jobs with thoughtfulness and efficiency. And the city reflects this – sidewalks with wheelchair access, public toilets, directional signs, public transportation. Parking space is still an issue and there are congestion charges.

In all, London is not only a nice place to visit, it’s a great transit point to other major cities and countries!

Read Part Two of this article here.

The formula for enjoying a trip abroad is the same in any developed country. In this article, I share some tips from my journey to the UK & US. Click To Tweet

3 Thoughts to “Journey to the UK & US”

  1. As usual insightful,informative ,honest and very well written. It’s good thing that you have written a book I would have suggested it if you hadn’t

  2. Hey you ! so you came to London and your did not come to at least say hello?! You’ve changed. Now I know. Bye 🙂

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