It’s… Wimbledon time!

Wimbledon ChampionshipsWith Wimbledon well underway at the All England Lawn Tennis Club and the Olympics just around the corner… there really is no better time to visit London!

Keep up-to-date with all the latest at Wimbledon by visiting the official Wimbledon Championships website

Interested in visiting London? Why not stay for free on a London home swap vacation!

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Top Money Saving Tips for Visiting London with Children

One of the best ways to save money when visiting London with children is to arrange a home exchange with a London family. And there’s no better place to find a great choice of home swap offers than on Home Base Holidays – a London based service!

Once settled in, there are many ways to cut down on expenses (for a start, you will have a fully equipped kitchen and can prepare some meals and packed lunches ‘at home’). I am now delighted to introduce guest author and Londoner, Janis Curry, who provides valuable tips on making the most of our great city:

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Visiting London? There are some experiences and attractions you really shouldn’t miss, but there is no reason to pay full price. If you plan on visiting The London Eye, Madame Tussauds, Tower of London, London Zoo, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Legoland and other major attractions, we’d highly recommend buying tickets in advance from Attractiontix – they guarantee the lowest prices and they’ll send you an e-ticket right away so you don’t need to worry about your tickets getting lost along the way.

You can buy tickets to individual attractions, but we’d recommend getting a pass (1, 2, 3 or 6 day passes are available) – you’ll save money, even if you only visit one or two attractions per day. With the passes, you also get some extra discounts for London restaurants, free movies, free bowling and skating, and a glossy visitor’s guide. Better still, you won’t be wasting time standing in a neverending queue when you could be out enjoying yourself – with a pass you just skip straight to the front of the queue. They also have some fantastic discounts on dozens of hit West End Theatre shows like the Lion King, Les Miserables, Billy Elliot and other must-see performances.

Click here to visit the Attractiontix website.

Get an Oystercard and enjoy cheap bus and tube journeys
Walking is a great way to see London, and you’ll find that Central London is actually pretty easy on foot, with lots of points of interest and places to stop for a bite to eat. You could even take some guided walks with London Walks – there is a brilliant Harry Potter walk every Sunday afternoon that your children will love. If you want to go somewhere a bit further afield, by far the easiest and cheapest way to get around is using public transport. If you’re planning to do quite a bit of travel by bus and tube, you should consider getting an Oyster card for each adult in your group and just adding enough credit to get you through the holiday – these smart little cards cost about £2 each (plus your fare) but will not only save you a lot of time and hassle, but they automatically recalculate your fare to make sure it’s the cheapest possible, so you save a lot of money. The £2 isn’t wasted either – you can also keep the card for your next visit to London. Kids under 10 usually travel free on public transport – there are a few odd exceptions which you can read about here.

For those with impaired mobility, baby buggies or lots of suitcases, click here for an accessibility guide showing which stations have step-free access. Planning in advance will make your journey much easier!

There is also an excellent tube map showing all of the public toilets and baby changing facilities on the underground – click here.

Visit some free museums, galleries and attractions
London has some of the most remarkable museums and galleries in the world, and many of them have hands-on exhibits and family activities as well as baby changing facilities and buggy access. Some also have lovely soft play areas for the really little ones. For the most part they are absolutely free, and even have picnic areas for you to enjoy your packed lunch.Click here to read about family friendly museums and attractions.

And finally…
We can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be rained on while in London. It’s part of the charm, really. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do indoors without feeling cooped up – click here for over 100 rainy days out. You’ll thank us!

This guestblog was brought to you by Janis Curry (a.k.a. MumVersusKids), Director & Founder of ReallyKidFriendly.com, the guide to great places for your family.

‘Slow Down London’: Take Time to Smell the Roses

The following article is by guest author, Pauline Kenny:Visit London

The first “Slow Down London” festival runs from April 24 to May 4. “Slow Down London” is a new project to inspire Londoners to improve their lives by “slowing down to do things well, rather than as fast as possible.”

We would like to inspire you to improve your travel life by slowing down. Don’t hop on a plane, check into a hotel, grab your guidebook and dash out to see the highlights. Instead pick one destination that you want to know better, find a home exchange or a vacation rental in the area, and settle in. Go to your favorite local café or tea room. Get groceries and supplies at the local shops. Talk to your neighbors, the people who live there. Read the local newspaper. Travel well, rather than as fast as possible.

Americans use the term “vacation” instead of “holiday”. For us a vacation is the chance to “vacate” our regular life. It doesn’t mean that we are unhappy with our daily life, but a change can be as good as a rest, so we leave our regular life behind and try on a different lifestyle. Maybe we go to a beach and become a beach-bum. Or maybe we head to Europe and live like a European for a few weeks.

With a home exchange or a vacation rental you get to live in a neighborhood, not in a tourist zone. Your local shops and restaurants cater to locals, not to tourists looking for something fast and inexpensive. You don’t spend two nights trying to see everything; you spend a week or two. In my travel experience, the best way to really see a place is to stay for awhile. Slow it down so you have the time to find the roses, talk to the gardener who grows them and then smell the roses.

Pauline Kenny runs two travel websites: Slow Europe, a guide to vacation rentals in Europe, and Cotswolder, a travel guide for the Cotswolds in England. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband Steve Cohen and cat Buddy. Pauline and Steve travel to Europe as often as they can and are currently obsessed with traveling in England. They have never done a home exchange because their lives are too disorganized, but they always stay in vacation rentals.

Home Exchange London!

London, one of the world’s most popular destinations, is a wonderful city for a home swap. Every home and location preference is available, from bijou flats in the bustling West End to large Edwardian family houses in the leafy suburbs.

The 2012 Olympics are only a few months away and now is the time to plan a home exchange to London to enjoy the Games in comfort – and rent-free.