So ladies and gentlemen, that was a 1200-word version of back-story of trip to London. Now, on to the valuable lessons:

  1. Check for multiple transport options and routes for an important intra-city, with their respective costs. Ask a local if possible.
  2. Avoid midnight arrivals and departures from an unknown city when travelling solo.
  3. There are both good and bad people. When travelling solo, if keeping bad at bay requires an arm’s length from good, it isn’t a bad deal.
  4. Commuting in London is as tiresome as they say. No exaggeration. It takes AT LEAST an hour to get anywhere by trains. And that is because they have a dedicated track. With cabs and buses, add at least an hour to Google predicted time during peak hours.
  5. Carry a bottle of water – always. Force yourself to stay hydrated. And try not to OD on coffee and fizz.
  6. Police in England (unlike Germany and Pakistan) are extremely friendly and helpful. No issue is a nuisance for them, so seek them out instead of talking to strangers.
  7. Carry a handbag with a zipper and ensure that it is closed at all times. It is the basics that screw us up more often than not. My dad recommends wearing a pouch to hold all your documents, and cash.
  8. Print your boarding pass if possible, or at least have it on two devices. Technology will fail you when you least expect it to.
  9. Flights within Europe are often delayed. Try not to have important flights on consecutive days.
  10. Keep emergency contacts and addresses in a notebook/diary/paper with you. This should include family, friends and police.
  11. Keep at least 10 Euros/Pound in coins (ideally denomination of one).
  12. When booking flights for over 200£, opt for flexible option (where you can rebook). It costs a little more but can save a lot more when things go south.
  13. To get to or fro London from Stansted Airport, opt for a coach instead of train if you have more time. It is less than half the price.
  14. Keep your ID and passport separate from money. Pickpockets only care for cash, and I don’t even want to think about the consequences if my German ID and Pakistani Passport were in my wallet *shudders*
  15. In crisis, don’t give up. Be resilient. When you are traveling solo, you are all you have got. It is mostly amazing but it can get dicey sometimes. Just get through it.
  16. Tickets to Pakistan are much cheaper from London than most European countries (Germany included).
  17. If you have friends and family in the area, get in touch pronto. It would have been a lot more difficult to get through for me if it weren’t for the Khala gang (for which I am infinitely grateful).

While I feel a little shaky around airports and the idea of going to London this weekend isn’t my favourite thought, I know that I will get over it. Travelling is in my DNA (I have got two very distinct moles on my feet, if you know what I mean). Also, I liked what I saw of London and want to go back to decide how I feel about the city.

And, there is an upside – I arrived at the airport today two hours before my flight.

* As you must have already gathered, first three days were great.