If there is one piece of advice I can give anyone planning on moving to London for their OE it is this. Do a group tour on the way into London, you will never look back.
I spent the last 18 months living in London and moved there knowing one or two people already in place. I worked, travelled a bit and generally lived it up. Towards the end of my time I decided I hadn’t seen enough of Europe and wanted to do a big tour to take in all the places that I wanted to go to. I decided on Top Deck (www.topdecktours.co.uk) as they did the most for my money 18 countries in 47 days camping. Yes you heard it right, camping for 47 days. Now, one thing you have to understand is that I am NOT a camper. I’m a kiwi but had only been camping once when I was a kid and didn’t relish the idea of sleeping on the ground, pitching tents, rain etc. I also had heard so many bad things about bus tours that I was beginning to wonder if I was doing the right thing. I needn’t have worried.
From the beginning the trip was amazing and the camping was easy and very social. In fact on the days we did stay in a hotel or a hostel we WANTED to get back to the tents as everyone bonded so much at the campsites. A word of advice though, talk to EVERYONE on the trip. There were people I hardly spoke to for the first few weeks who ended up being my best mates, and we still keep in touch. You just never know who you will click with.
The reason I say that you should do the trip on the way IN to London is that I had 5 weeks after the trip to spend back in the UK before heading home. Those 5 weeks were the BEST of the 18 months that I lived there. The reason being that I had this amazing group of people that I had just spent the last 2 months camping with getting to know the very good (and the very bad) about them. Even now, I’m back in NZ and those that stayed in London are still catching up regularly so they have a ready made social circle, which is important when you’re moving to a new country!
The other side to it is that although on the tour you only visit places for a couple of days, it gives you a real taste for the countries you want to go back to and explore a bit more. Think of the tour as a taster for Europe.
Don’t be put off if you are at the upper end of their age bracket either I was 28 when I did the trip and we had people aged 18 33 and everyone got on. In fact some of my closest friends from that trip are almost a decade younger than me! Remember, an 18 year old traveller is NOT the same as that 18 year old kid back home, so don’t get put off.
Although there are many tour companies out there I would definitely recommend Top Deck as value for money. If you are a bit unsure about group tours then go for a shorter one, but why not take the plunge and do a month or more you will have the time of your life and have a fantastic introduction to your new life in the UK.